Title: Spring Brides
Authors: Rachel Hauck, Lenora Worth, and Meg Moseley
Narrators: Julie Lyles Carr, Christy Ragland, and Amber Quick
Published: March 2015 by Zondervan (print) and Brilliance Audio (audio)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christian fiction, Novella Collection
Series: A Year of Weddings
Duration: 8 hours, 41 minutes, unabridged
“Happily ever after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at three spring weddings….” (from the book’s description)
The Spring Brides collection features a re-release of three of the twelve novellas in Zondervan’s A Year of Weddings series – A March Bride, An April Bride, and A May Bride. Being a fan of contemporary Christian romance, I’m enjoying the opportunity that this series offers to sample shorter pieces by a variety of authors in the genre. I previously reviewed the audio edition of the Winter Brides collection, and am pleased to have the opportunity to review this one as well. Since each novella stands independently from others in this series, there’s no need to read them in any particular order. Nevertheless, it has been fun to read them during seasonally appropriate weather, so be sure to check this one out and be on the lookout for the Summer Brides collection, coming in May.
A March Bride by Rachel Hauck, narrated by Julie Lyles Carr
“Susanna Truitt (Once Upon a Prince) is three weeks from royalty. She’ll soon marry King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom. But when the government insists she renounce her American citizenship before the wedding, coupled with the lack of involvement by family and friends, Susanna’s heart begins to doubt whether this marriage is God’s plan for her.” (publisher’s description)
It was nice to reconnect with Susanna and Nathaniel from Rachel Hauck’s earlier book, Once Upon a Prince. The scope of this story felt well suited to its length, and it seemed a plausible extension to the earlier one. In fact, I rather liked the real-world feel to it where Susanna starts having second thoughts about her fairy tale. I also enjoyed the earthly analogy to a spiritual concept regarding citizenship. Bits of backstory from the earlier book are sprinkled here and there to refresh the reader’s memory or bring you up to speed if you haven’t read the earlier book, so this story can stand alone if necessary (though, if you ask me, there’s no reason not to read them both!)
The narration of A March Bride was clearly and precisely read in a pleasant voice. Unfortunately, it suffered a bit in comparison to the narration of Once Upon a Prince, which featured a distinctly southern accent for Susanna and a classy British accent for Nathaniel. I found myself missing those accents because the characters’ voices became a part of who they were, in my mind at least. Nevertheless, I did still enjoy listening to the novella.
An April Bride by Lenora Worth, narrated by Christy Ragland
“Bride-to-be Stella Carson cannot wait another day to marry soldier Marshall Henderson. But when Marshall returns home to Louisiana, it becomes clear to them both that he is not the man he used to be. With only weeks until the wedding, Stella and Marshall must choose between a marriage built on the past and faith in long-ago love or a very different future than the one Stella imagined.” (publisher’s description)
I liked the concept behind this one and I found the ending pleasantly sweet and romantic, even if the timing was a little convenient for total plausibility. But the middle of the story turned out to be a little angsty for my taste. It felt like no matter what happened or what the characters were talking about, the characters’ thoughts and conversations kept circling back to the same dilemma with little forward (or backward) progress until nearly the end. There were some scenes I particularly liked – their carefree trip to the zoo comes to mind – but on the whole, this story wasn’t one of my favorites.
The narration got the job done in a clear and matter-of-fact style. Like the narration for the other novellas in this series, it’s a straight reading that doesn’t differentiate between characters’ voices.
A May Bride by Meg Moseley, narrated by Amber Quick
“Ellie Martin, a country girl living in Atlanta, has dreamed of a traditional wedding all her life, but she’s missing a key ingredient to her plans for the future: a groom. Then Ellie meets Gray Whitby – at a wedding of all places. But when Ellie jeopardizes her own future for the sake of her sister, Gray feels like he’ll always be second to Ellie’s family. Can Ellie and Gray find their own way together amidst the demands and perceptions of others, or will their romance end before it has truly begun?” (publisher’s description)
Taking narration and storyline as a whole, I think this is my favorite of the three novellas in the spring collection…which is pretty cool, since I too am a May bride. I thought the characters and their relationship were well developed, and I loved the concept of a “guerilla wedding.” I also appreciated the growth of the characters over the course of the story, as well as the emphasis on grace.
The narrator did a great job reflecting the emotions of the characters and situations over the course of the reading, which made for a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.
Thank you to Brilliance Audio and Zondervan for providing me with a review copy of this audiobook.