Wildflower Wedding, by LuAnn McLane. Signet/Eclipse. 304 pages. Mass market paperback $7.99.
This latest addition to Naples resident LuAnn McLane’s popular Cricket Creek series is filled with romance, misunderstandings, fear of failure, small town warmth, and the continued post-recession economic resurgence of this (for the most part) friendly Kentucky river town.
Young Gabby Goodwin, a social outcast in her high school days because she came from the wrong part of town, has made her way to a degree of success as owner of a flower shop. Back in high school, she had a crush on notorious bad boy Reese Marino, but she kept it to herself for fear of rejection and because of concerns about troubled Reese’s wild behavior.
Now, after having been straightened out by living with his Uncle Tony in New York, Reese is a college graduate who has remade himself without losing his charming good looks. He has returned to Cricket Creek with his uncle, and the two of them have opened River Row Pizza. Uncle Tony is still recovering from his wife’s betrayal, and his anger is manifest in many ways. Reese returns to a place in which he and his mother, Tessa, suffered unhealed emotional wounds from the unexplained disappearance of Reese’s father some ten years back. The guy just up and left and hasn’t been heard from since.
Then there’s Trish Daniels, a gorgeous woman who is more than a bit gun-shy herself in the wake of a failed marriage.
Not a great background for romance, you might say. You’d be wrong. You don’t know LuAnn McLane.
To complete a multi-generational pattern of budding romance, the author focuses on Clyde, the Don Juan of the Whisper’s Edge retirement village, as another resident named Joy tries to make him a one-woman man.
The common theme through the major potential pairings is an insecurity based on past experiences – a fear of getting hurt again. Reese worries about still being plagued by his past reputation. Can he really start fresh back in Cricket Creek? Can Gabby think of him without being reminded of his youthful, mixed up self? Can “river rat” Gabby hold her head up in a town where she was a social outcast?
For the middle-agers who are suffering the pain and humiliation of failed relationships, can they risk once again putting their hearts on the line? Can Tessa find closure after the disappearance of her husband?
Knowing the patterns of romance literature, we expect that things will turn out well. However, LuAnn McLane’s skill is in managing to create strong suspense elements even as the familiar formula guides the plot lines. She accomplishes this by being able to get into the heads of her characters and by building several missteps along the way. . . .
To the entire review, as it appears in the May 14, 2014 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 15 Bonita Springs and Naples editions, click here Florida Weekly – Wildflower Wedding 1 and here Florida Weekly – Wildflower Wedding 2