Lucas Wilder’s best friend is a traitor. First, Audrey moved back to their hick-infested hometown, Bluewater Bay, and now she’s marrying a local. His own brother, in fact. And as her man of honor, Lucas gets coerced into returning for an extended stay. Although, between his unfaithful ex-boyfriend and his artist’s block, going home isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Even if the best man is Gabriel Savage, Lucas’s first crush, first hookup, and first heartbreak.
The only reason Gabe hasn’t been waiting for Lucas to return to Bluewater Bay is because he never thought it’d happen. Not that it matters now that Lucas is back—Gabe’s still a logger who’s never been anywhere (Canada doesn’t count), and Lucas is now a famous sculptor who’s been everywhere twice. Plus, there’s that shared past.
When Audrey asks Lucas to make her wedding favors, the only place to set up a kiln is at Gabe’s tree farm. Soon, they pick up where they left off twelve years before, then blow past it, discovering why neither of them forgot the other. Now they have to choose how much of their history they’ll repeat, and what future they’ll make together.
This was a must have follow-up story to the prequel short, Helping Hands’ that appeared in the anthology, Lights, Camera, Cupid!, which was the book before this one in the series. A farmer and an artist take a stab at a second chance set against a wedding in a small town. Yep, gimme!
As I said, this one is a follow-up number and I was really glad to get it. Helping Hand introduced a very young pair and left things really wide open. In fact, that one only worked because I was pretty sure this one was coming along eventually in the series. Wedding Favors picks up twelve years from the ending of Helping Hand. Let’s just say a lot of water has gone under the bridge, the prodigal has returned and Sleeping Beauty is awakened. Sorry, couldn’t resist stringing all those together.
But really, that is kind of how this story hit me. I spent a lot of time not really vested in this story and just sort of distantly enjoying it. I liked it, but didn’t love it for some time. It was a story that had to grow on me. But, I do like this author’s writing, and I enjoy the series so I gave things some time and I’m glad I did. The second chance and these two guys, the way they were with each other when the dust settled, worked for me even if it felt long.
Early on, I couldn’t stand Lucas. I thought he was a self-absorbed jerk who really got hung up on pretty much everything, but especially that one encounter with Gabe in the past. I understand why a teenager would get worked up over someone starting something and then just backing away, but a man twelve years later who couldn’t see the truth from the distance of time and maturity was a tough one for me. He was also so dead set against his home town and anyone who might actually like the place including his family. But, as Lucas began to settle in, see what he’d missed and appreciate the people and Gabe, I got past my issues with Lucas. Now his best friend and some others, they had me snarly over their interference after a while.
The situation with Gabe’s farm and Lucas’ art careers was one of my favorite parts of this story. I liked this is who and what they were, but also that they really liked and appreciated this side of each other and supported each other. Oh, and this pair got up to some pretty hot and sizzling times.
I experienced this story in audio format with Nick J. Russo doing the narration. I do enjoy his work a great deal. I had a moment when I laughed when I encountered Gabe’s voice for the first time. I had this mental picture of flannel-clad Paul Bunyan lumberjack that just would not leave. But it was all good. I’m at the point that I’d probably snag an audio book just because he’s narrating.
So, early on it was wobbly for me, but then Wedding Favors found its stride and I enjoyed it as much as many others in this delightful series. I would recommend this book/series for those who enjoy gently-paced character driven stories in a small town setting.
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