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Dakota Halifax loves to be in love. In fact, as one of Las Vegas’s premier wedding planners, she’s built a whole career around romance. Which is why her own wedding has to be nothing short of perfect. And then her fiancé jilts her. While she’s waiting in her wedding dress. On a cruise ship already out at sea. Once back on dry land, Dakota tries to pour her heart into her business and weekly wedding advice column, Get Ready to Wed. But how can the heartbroken celebrate others’ true love? When she reconnects with her childhood best friend, surprisingly sexy and all-grown-up casino bouncer Brendan West, Dakota wonders if maybe she can fall back in love with being in love. But then her ex reappears, begging for another chance and suddenly Dakota questions if she’ll ever understand love. Can someone once-burned and twice-shy ever find her way down the aisle again?
Ready To Wed looked and sounded like an adorable story with heart and humor. Opening the pages I quickly found all that to be true. Setting the stage, the story opens with Dakota waiting on the dock of a cruise ship for her fiance to come meet her for their wedding. When he never shows up Dakota must pick up her train and head back home still single. Normally after a woman is stood up she can hide in the shadows until the sting of betrayal lessens but poor Dakota is in the spotlight from day one of her return. She's a successful wedding planner with a local Vegas blog column with hundreds of readers who absorb her tips and advice about their big day. Now that she's back in reality she has to learn to heal while thousands of eyes are on her while trying to sort things out with her ex. Add in her childhood best friend who shows up after not seeing him for years and the story gets incredibly juicy.
Going into Ready To Wed, the only thing I knew to expect was humor because I wasn't familiar with Madsen's work until now. I got a little more than I bargained for with a childhood sweetheart story built in to the humor and that just made it fantastic! Dakota's wedding ordeal is something I can relate to in that I've been left almost at the proverbial alter. I loved watching Dakota balance her work life with her personal life and the realistic circumstances of what her fiance Grant dropped in her lap. The first part of the story takes you through Dakota working through her conflicted feelings for Grant and how she handles everything. Being dumped has caused her to lose her hope and joy in the sanctity of marriage and the wedding process. I was surprised to find out she's a bit of a love-aholic. Always jumping right in after getting burned with little wait time between relationships. When I was younger I had a tendency to do this too so it didn't seem out of character to imagine Dakota being the same way. She had a lot of baggage weighing her down, between her mother running out on her at a young age and her father always busy she's never felt stable or had security. I admired her strength but the way she seemed to let Grant off so easy bothered me a little. Especially about the financial aspect of her life post botched wedding. I would have nailed him to the wall over that but I guess the way she handled it was unique to her personality. Dakota wasn't a vindictive ex like some of us would be. She was lovable enough though so I let it slide after a while.
Grant and Dakota have a lot to work through and even though what he did was cowardly and stupid I found myself NOT hating Grant. At all. He was just a guy who did what guys do. Fuck things up. I didn't want the two to be together anymore but I didn't dislike him. Mainly because the addition of Brendan completely eclipsed his character for me. Brendan is the childhood best friend who grew up with Dakota. He was basically her only friend when she was a kid with the two of them being inseparable. Childhood sweethearts. It's what I love. No matter what, I'll always root for these kinds of relationships because no matter how strong a relationship may be in the present tense there will always be that stronger bond between two people who grew up together and shared so many life changing moments. Once Brendan returns it's like no time has passed between the two and their friendship picks back up where they left off. Except that now they're both adults with working parts and sometimes that gets complicated. Especially when you still have an ex fiance trying to glom onto you because he's a twat. Yes I said I didn't hate Grant but he totally cock blocked a few moments between Brendan and Dakota. Bren was amazing. Sexy, strong, confident, SWEET as could be and devoted. Brendan was amazing not only to Dakota but her sweet dog Cupid. This guy was so fantastic that he offered to let her dog stay at his house while Dakota was in the transition of moving out of Grant's. You know a guy is on the level if he loves dogs.
Ready To Wed was funny and romantic. There's only one pet peeve I had about the story. The bulk of it revolved around Dakota's wedding planning, bride emergencies, being at the weddings while trying to figure out who she was, what she wanted and trying to fend off a bitch paparazzi hell bent on ruining her reputation. That was all cute and important to the story but I would have really enjoyed seeing the romance take more of a front seat throughout. I felt like it took a long time to reconcile everything between Dakota and her feelings for Grant and what she felt was happening with Brendan. It wasn't a deal breaker I just wanted a little more of the romance and a little less of the day to day happenings of her business but I got that she needed time to grow without a man. Character building and what not but still. With that said I was pleased with the overall direction the story ended up taking and was pleased with the end. This was definitely a great story regardless of my peeves. Ready To Wed made me take notice of Madsen and her writing so I look forward to reading more from her in the future.
Being around him chased away the darkness always tugging at me, and I needed that In my life. eARC 35%
"I've loved you one way or another since the first day we met, Dakota Jane Halifax, and I'll keep on doing it, no matter what happens. Even if we find out we're better as friends." eARC 62%
Also, who says what's a normal family and how you need to get there? There's no deadline. No race. No perfect checklist that'll give it to you - if there was, I swear I' have found it. I love me some checklists. eARC 70%
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About The Author:
Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children. She is the YA author of DEMONS OF THE SUN & ALL THE BROKEN PIECES, and the adult author of FALLING FOR HER FIANCE, ACT LIKE YOU LOVE ME and CINDERELLA SCREWED ME OVER.