The Bachelor Chronicles

The Bridal Chronicles
by Lissa Manley
(Silh. Rom. #1689, $3.99, G) ISBN 0-373-19689-X
In the follow up story to The Bachelor Chronicles, Manley gives us The Bridal Chronicles. This time, the stunt is a bridal show with a pretend wedding. The outcome is still the same – two people who are not looking for love find it with each other.

Anna Sinclair is the heiress to a banking fortune. Her father has dictated that she go into the banking business, but Anna has always dreamed of designing wedding dresses. She enters into an agreement that if she can demonstrate that she can be successful in a year, he will get off her back. There are plenty of reasons why Anna and her father have this type of relationship. Anna now finds herself in Portland, Oregon, with the hope that this “pretend wedding” publicity stunt will get her wares out and she will land an exclusive contract. To prove to herself she can make it on her own, she is going by the name of Anna Simpson.

But there is a snag. The model who was supposed to wear her dress in the photo shoot is ill and now Anna has to stand in. Her hope is that the “groom” assigned to her will not be photogenic, thus avoiding her picture being splayed across the pages and being recognized for who she really is.

But her “groom” is none other than debonair millionaire Ryan Cavanaugh. Ryan is a self-made man, having pulled himself out of poverty and foster homes to start a business and make millions. Ryan, too, has his reasons for doing this shoot. He is helping his favorite charity, which helps young boys without families have hope.

The major conflict flows from their pasts. Ryan was duped by a society broad who looked down her nose at his humble beginning, breaking his heart. He swears he will avoid rich women. Anna has been burned by men who just wanted her for her money. She has sworn off love and entanglements to avoid having her heart broken again.

The chemistry between these two is the glue that holds this story together. Each is a likable person in their own right and together they gel. They bring out the best in each other, even if they don’t want to admit it or even realize it. Their interactions are generally enjoyable and fresh.

The plot line is weak and creates stress on the relationship where none need exist. There are plenty of little misunderstandings thrown in followed by Anna and Ryan manipulating each other to their point of view. This works the first few times, but gets old after that. An example of this is when Anna gets cold feet and decides not to sign the photo release. Ryan uses his sob story about his charity to get her to give in. Another time, Anna has decided she cannot do any more photos, even if they win the Most Perfect Couple award. She gets Ryan to agree to this against his better judgment by claiming she has an unhealthy fear of cameras. Of course, then Ryan changes his mind when he realizes how lucrative the publicity will be, so he manipulates her back into action.

The other piece that is slightly problematic is the speed with which the two change. In order to reach their happily-ever-after, they both must see themselves and adjust their thinking. This happens quickly rather than gradually throughout the story.

The Bridal Chronicles is a nice story about triumphing over your past. It has many things to keep one interested, but just one too many misunderstandings to make it more than that.

--Shirley Lyons

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