Always a Wedding Planner by Davalynn Spencer, Toni Shiloh, RL Ashly, Leeann Betts – Book Review

Posted June 2, 2021 by Phyllis Helton in Book Reviews, Guest Post /

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Heroes and heroines – they’re why we read romance, right? Sometimes we love them, sometimes we love to hate them, and sometimes we get frustrated with their antics. But what would romance be without them?

In the newly released Always a Wedding planner, readers have four heroes and heroines with which to sympathize (or to scrutinize). This contemporary collection from Barbour Publishing looks at the lives of four unmarried business partners who run Weddings by Design based in Loveland, Colorado. For those not familiar with Colorado, there really is a Loveland – the Sweetheart City – where the post office adds its famous cancelation to cards and letters sent in every February before they forward them on to their intended recipients. It’s great fun.

Today, each of the four authors in this collection will share a sketch of their “leading lady and gent,” as RL Ashly puts it. Her overview is followed by authors Leeann Betts and Davalynn Spencer. But starting things off, just as she does in the collection, is Toni Shiloh, author of Story 1, “Finally a Sweetheart.”

From “Finally a Sweetheart” by Toni Shiloh

One of the first things I do when preparing to write a story is to discover who my characters are. I want to know everything about them! Of course, some are stubborn and refuse to share. Others are an open book and tell me all I need to know! 

When I wrote Finally A Sweetheart, the characters unveiled themselves pretty quickly. I knew that Felicity Edwards wanted a family, had a heartbreaking backstory, and loved God with all her heart. Once I knew those details (and more), I had to make sure to find an inspiration photo that went with the woman taking shape in my mind. 

Enter: Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She played Belle in the movie of the same title. She embodied everything about my character. I could see the grace that I imagined Felicity had. Could see a little heartache in the eyes. She fit perfectly and I happily moved on to the next character. Will Davenport also came easy to me because in the novel he’s a barber and owns his own business. My mind jumped to Michael Ealy who played a barber in the movie Barbershop. 

With these two cast, I was ready to start writing! 

From “Hemmed In” by RL Ashley

Kiki Bell is a forty-something seamstress who creates wedding gowns, bridesmaids’ dresses, veils, and any wedding attire ordered by clients. She enjoys working with her best friends and together they help brides feel beautiful on their special day.  She inherited her late aunt and uncle’s farm and dreams of turning it into a wedding venue. 

Kiki adopted her late sister and brother-in-law’s children. Her niece and nephew Tressa and Jack Torres are her world. Kiki believes she is past the age of matrimony. Who would notice a single mom with two teenagers? 

Bing Kelley is a forty-something fireman and local crooner. As a confirmed bachelor-till-the-rapture, previous relationships have taught him that women are complicated and who has time for that? But when a fire at a farm close to his home introduces him to Kiki Bell he is smitten. He is the proud owner of a large black lab named Oxford that specializes in eating. Ox plays an important role in getting Bing and Kiki together. He helps set up their first date and loves the new neighbor kids. Oxford was a fun character to write. 

In “Hemmed In,” Kiki and Bing learn to trust and love each other. 

From “The Worst-Kept Secret” by Leeann Betts

In “The Worst-Kept Secret,” Cassie Blackthorn and Brady Millman are complete opposites. Cassie sees Brady as an extroverted playboy completely out of touch with reality. How the man keeps a business running is a mystery to her. Rumors around town say he came to Colorado because of the legalized marijuana.

The first time she meets Brady, her suppositions are confirmed. He looks like he’s coming off a weekend bender, and his limousine—the one she wants to rent for a client—smells like a brewery. And a vomitorium.

For Brady, he’s not so sure about this Cassie woman. Why does she seem so standoffish? And why doesn’t she like him? Or is it men in general she distrusts? From what he can gather, she’s a workaholic who never has any fun. So why is he drawn to her? Is it true that opposites attract? 

From  “Taste and See” by Davalynn Spencer

At twenty-eight, Saffron Fare is too busy cooking for other people’s weddings to cook up romantic plans of her own. As the Food and Beverage Director for Weddings by Design, she gives all her attention to making a bride and groom’s special day the most delectable it can be—and keeping the secret from her business partners that she can’t taste or smell a thing. Cooking has been her life and she had hoped it would be her future. But when her gas is shut off due to a leak, Ronnie fears she’ll not be able to afford the repair bill and keep her dreams and her end of the business going. 

Ty Ellicott runs a few steers, owns a rope business, and takes care of odd jobs for friends, including plumbing problems. This time it’s a friend-of-a-friend with a gas leak. He arrives at an old Victorian house looking for Ron Fare and is met by a young woman who smells like cinnamon rolls and goes by “Ronnie.” Life takes a sharp turn toward romantic entanglement that he has successfully avoided for years. He can’t resist adding Mr. Fix-it and official taste-tester to his resumé and wonders if God had a plan after all.

Always a Wedding Planner by Davalynn Spencer, Toni Shiloh, RL Ashly, Leeann Betts – Book Review

Always a Wedding Planner

by R.L. Ashly, Leeann Betts, Toni Shiloh, Davalynn Spencer

Published by Barbour Fiction
Publication Date June 1, 2021
Genres: Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Colorado Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 25-34, 35-60
Written for: Adults
Pages: 448


Love Is Only Business for 4 Wedding Planners

Discover how keeping secrets from each other threatens four women’s friendships, wedding business, and own ability to find love in Loveland, Colorado.

Business partners Felicity Edwards, the cake baker; Kiki Bell, the seamstress; Cassie Blackthorn, the coordinator; and Chef Saffron Delarosa are best of friends in a town that is a romantic wedding destination for many couples—who work together at Weddings by Design to make every bride’s special day perfect. Could each falling into their own romance be the key to working out their differences and learning to trust each other—and God—with their futures?

I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

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Sharing a common theme of secrets and trust, these four authors have written a fun collection of stories. The stories revolve around a wedding business with each partner having a different specialty. As with most collections I’ve read with multiple authors, I enjoyed some of the stories more than the others. But if you notice the five stars I gave the collection, the ones I liked, I loved!

Let me tell you about Taste and See by Davalynn Spencer. This story was everything I’ve come to expect from her. The writing was top-notch with intriguing characters, lovely descriptions, a plot that moved along at the perfect pace, and it felt, for lack of a better word, substantial. This story alone is worth the price of the collection!

I enjoyed the fact that many of the characters were a little older than we often see in Christian Romance, being in their mid to late thirties. This seemed appropriate; after all, for a woman in her twenties to feel like she is “never a bride” would be a little silly, right?

Each of the stories had a faith message and had the characters searching their hearts and drawing closer to the Lord.

I will mention that a “resolution” to a conflict in one of the stories simply made my blood boil! The story was cute but the problem was much worse, in my opinion, than how it was treated and I felt that making light of what happened was wrong.

If you enjoy Christian romances, I recommend Always a Wedding Planner.

More Shareables

About Davalynn Spencer

Wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, Davalynn Spencer writes cowboy romance. She is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. And she’s fairly certain that her previous career as a rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter prepared her for life in Colorado wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley.

About Leeann Betts

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. Together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, edit, facilitate a critique group, teach writing classes, blog regularly for Heroes, Heroines, and History, judge writing contests, and are members of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, Pikes Peak Writers, Capitol Christian Writers Fellowship, Christian Women Writers, and Christian Authors Network.

About R.L. Ashly

RL Ashly is a master seamstress with a Master of Arts degree in literature. A mother and grandmother, she is active in her local writing community, never says “never” to a home improvement task, and strives to one day write the great American novel.

About Toni Shiloh

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.

Blog Contributor for: Putting on the New | Heartwings  Blog | Diversity Between the Pages | ACFW Virginia

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