Jimmy Tanner Scott and Melissa Miranda Harrison. Jimmy T. and Missy. The two were inseparable throughout their high school years in Mayland, South Carolina.
Missy did the things young girls in love do. She practiced writing her name in her notebooks as Mrs. Jimmy T. Scott or as Mrs. James Tanner Scott “for important times when nicknames wouldn’t do.” At 13, Missy had begun creating her wish book with dress designs, fabric swatches from her mother’s bridal shop, articles about flowers, receptions and information on wedding vows. “When I get married, I want everything to be perfect. I only expect to do it once, so it has to be perfect; my dream wedding.”
When Alice Wootson’s second novel, Dream Wedding begins, Missy is 24. She has been in Philadelphia for the last five years. After graduating from high school, she received a full college scholarship and went away to school. She remained in Philadelphia until she was laid off from her teaching position. Missy is on her way back to Mayland to teach and to get married. Melissa Miranda Harrison is four weeks away from her dream wedding . . . to Walter Wilson.
People in Mayland know of Missy’s upcoming marriage to local real estate agent, Walter Wilson. However, they always expected Jimmy T. and Missy to get married. Their breakup right before graduation was the result of “a stupid argument about nothing.” Perhaps no one was more surprised that they weren’t getting married than Jimmy T himself. He had shared her dream of a peach and white wedding officiated by Rev. Butler. “I didn’t have a wish book, but I had wishes and dreams for when you graduated. I was waiting for you. I had big dreams that included us together in a house we’d build on the piece of property my grandpa left me . . . I'd open up my own shop . . .
After high school, Jimmy T. pursued his natural ability and his interest in auto mechanics and went to trade school. He owns his own garage. He is well respected in the community. Jimmy T. has also built a home on the land he owns. The only dream deferred is that of a life with Missy. When her car breaks down outside Mayland, the auto club calls him and it’s Jimmy T. to the rescue. Theirs is a highly charged reunion. Fate has brought them back together and given him one last chance. Jimmy T. has four weeks before the wedding to show Missy the error of her ways and puts on a full court press.
Missy is not immune to the explosive chemistry that still exists between them. When Jimmy T. is not around, there are other powerful reminders of the love they once shared everywhere in the small town. Their tree, town events and rituals. Jimmy T. still has the Mustang he used to squire her around town in. The town folk seem to have a vested interest in the outcome. Even Missy's 80-year-old former schoolteacher wants to know: “How could you cut him loose and latch hold of somebody like Walter . . . ?”
Dream Wedding is a worthy successor to Alice Wootson’s debut novel, Snowbound with Love. As a relatively new author, Wootson is still developing her narrative voice and rhythm. And while some passages are choppy and the writing could have been tighter, it did not hamper my enjoyment of the story. The story is familiar without being predictable. Through her flashback scenes and the main characters’ recollections, the author accurately depicts the challenges, intensity and evolution of young love.
The main characters are likeable young people whose chemistry and confusion are very believable. The town of Mayland provides local color and that in-your-face and in-your-business aspect unique to small town life. Secondary characters are excellent from Missy’s scene stealing mother and best friend to the erstwhile fiancé, Walter Wilson.
I liked Alice Wootson’s lighthearted story about young love, sweet dreams and second chances.