RogerBW's Blog

Vision in White, Nora Roberts 04 February 2020

2009 romance. Mackenzie Elliott and three of her childhood friends run a wedding business, everything from engagement photos to the Big Day. But, inspired by the example of her mother, Mac thinks true love can't be for her…

So on the one hand this is very clearly a category romance (and Nora Roberts, who also writes the …In Death series as J. D. Robb, has written an awful lot of category romances). But good writers can do good things inside constraints, and this gets away from many of the expectations.

So while Mac isn't independently wealthy she isn't struggling either, and she certainly isn't looking for a rich man to take her away from all this; she loves her work. And her True Love Carter Maguire isn't doing badly, but he's a school teacher (because he loves it, having stepped back from teaching at Yale… hmm, there's probably some sort of worth-of-job social coding in there, but he's teaching at a fee-paying school rather than with the masses) rather than anything more glamorous.

In a writing market normally bound by conventions of family-is-all, Mac has a horrible mother with whom she does not reconcile – indeed, a major part of her character arc lies in realising and accepting that that would be the wrong thing to do. It's a great relief to see that even in romance-world some behaviour by relatives really can be regarded as unacceptable, though mother sometimes needs to be cartoonishly bad to qualify.

There are also solid female friendships here, principally among the wedding planners: Mac does the photography, Emma does flowers and interior decoration, Lauren does the cooking, and Parker owns the big house and does the overall arrangement. (Why yes, there are four books in the series.) All right, I don't think much of the huge-expensive-wedding industry and there's no real voice to suggest that for some people small and simple might be the right thing, but as well as the friendships there's some excellent competence porn, both with the basic logistics of getting everything set up at the right times and places and wrangling outside experts as needed, and in the manipulations necessary to make sure that the client couples have a good day in spite of themselves and their friends. I like reading about capable people doing things well, and they make an excellent background to the story.

"Naomi Right's maid of honor just found out that her boyfriend—the brother and best man of the groom—has been having an affair with his business partner. MOH is on a rampage, as one might expect, and is refusing to serve unless the cheating bastard is banned from the wedding. Bride is frantic and sides with MOH. Groom is pissed, wants to strangle cheating bastard brother, but feels unable to bar his own brother from his wedding, or replace him as best man. Bride and groom are barely speaking."

As for the actual romance, of course it can't run entirely smooth or there wouldn't be a book, but the relatively minor problems it encounters are consistent with who these people are and how they've lived. There are even some scenes from Carter's viewpoint, rather than leaving his internal life a mystery the way more strictly female-centred romances do.

It's a quiet and gentle book, with no grand dramatic passions, but I found I rather enjoyed it.

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