This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on January 6, 2015
I really didn’t pay close attention to the blurb when I picked this one up (gasp, I know, should have warned everyone to be sitting down for that shocking announcement). I read the author’s previous book and loved it so much that if I had time for re-reads, I would be re-reading it. I wanted that experience again and after shutting the cover, I honestly think she surpassed my previous experience.
Keywords and phrases to describe my latest Jessica Topper journey: sassy cartoonist music superhero geek, wedding from hell and the domineering mother to go with it, geeky computer wizard who secretly wishes to escape his life, society wedding and bridezilla, growing up military, rocky Romeo & Juliet past, quirky, miscues and misunderstandings, truth and daring card game, drunk is in order, tour around Chi-town, nightmare transportation woes, faux newlyweds, and it all comes back to the Dictator Dress.
Quirky, snarly and geeky graphic artist, Laney Hudson, has the simple task of getting herself- and more importantly- her mother’s bridal dress from NYC to Hawaii in time for the big third times the charm wedding. All her life she has been one huge pile of disappointments for her mother so she is out to prove that she can handle this one task. Unfortunately, the weather and the airline are working against her and getting to Hawaii has become a whole lot more complicated. Or is it truly unfortunate? She is now pushed down an unforeseen path alongside an annoying stranger that becomes less annoying and more endearing as time goes by. He is a surprise and a catalyst to force her to look back on her past and painful present, but he is going his way and she is going hers in the end.
Noah Ridgewood, geeky and serious computer app inventor and closet comic book fan is on his way to his bachelor party in Vegas with threats from his wealthy, powerful future father in law that he’d better come up to scratch with his petulant, demanding Bridezilla daughter or else. Just his luck he gets stuck next to another bridezilla and she gets him embroiled in a misunderstanding with everyone they encounter that he is her groom. Then he starts to see the real woman and the truth brings him to analyze his own situation. For the first time, he realizes what has eluded him all along only his opportunity window is shutting fast and there is a lot more riding on his choices that affect others.
This book had a fun, but realistic plot. Anyone who flies in the winter and experienced the hazards of weather, mechanical or computer failure will be nodding their heads knowingly over all the mishaps these two experienced. Though, personally, I thought these two had way more fun with their groundings, overnight stays and delays. I was also entertained by the insertion of the comic book love, rock music moments and all around fun geekery that themed this story.
Really, it just plain tugged so many emotions out of me. Laney’s snarky, grief-ridden defensiveness, Noah’s sad and lonely pensiveness and their opposites personalities and situations offered so much for me to experience and to which I could connect. The story is told in alternating narrations, but Laney’s narrative sections also included dips into her past to explain why she is who she is in the present. My heart just ached for her. Noah’s past wasn’t as trauma-laden, but he too was shaped by his past. Laney must let her past go and learn to live on her own terms while Noah, as brilliant and organized as he is, must stop drifting and finally take a chance to find his home.
Because of the situation, the romance stays strictly on the ‘look, but don’t touch’ side for a long time. I was nervous at first knowing that Noah was an engaged man and thinking that he might give into his attraction, but relaxed when no cheating took place. These two had so much internal baggage and distractions that they had to deal with stuff before even the feelings could come. They were both antagonistic when the other one inadvertently poked a sore spot. It was all very tentative and slow. I was pleased with the pace and eager because I had no trouble buying into these ‘met as strangers to friends to lovers’ couple.
This was not just a romance, but was a growth and development story too. The symbolism of Laney’s growth was the wedding dress.
[quote]You’ve got a dress dictating your every move. That’s what Noah had said back at the airport food court. And he was right, even before knowing that it wasn’t mine. It was if the dress, even flat in its bag, embodied my mother. And everything she had ever criticized me for, disapproved of, and forbidden me to do was stitched into its very fabric and held fast. p. 148 Laney, Dictatorship of the Dress[/quote]
The epiphany point for Noah was a memory of his childhood with his dad watching a political speech on the news.
[quote]”It’s because he wasn’t honest, son. He lied to the people. And then he lied to himself, to make him feel better.”
His words had concerned me…”How do you know the truth from a lie?” I asked him.
“You’ll know the truth by the way it feels, Noah.”
My father’s words rang clear then and I heard them now, despite the winter wind whistling in my ears. And standing in this spot, while looking down at Laney, brought them full circle. p. 208 Noah, Dictatorship of the Dress[/quote]
The ending was predictable to a certain extent, but it was the surprising way it happened that left my swoony romantic heart so satisfied and my vocal sigh fortunately unheard. I loved how perceptions were changed, courage was gathered and surprises ensued. I will definitely be going on with this series and I think lots of Contemporary Romance fans will love this book.
My thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for an honest review.
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