Heroine and wedding planner Ivy Rhodes believes in love and happily ever after. Hero Bennett Westcott, a reality show camera man, not so much. Fortunately these two don’t let that minor detail stand in the way of a smokin’ weekend encounter during which Ivy realizes he’s her man. But Bennett takes note of the sappy love-and-forever direction Ivy has in her sights and flees. (No, really, he’s outta there.)
When Bennett returns, this time producing and filming Ivy in a new reality show she hopes will fund her next business venture, she plots to make him hers. Of course, with Bennett’s deep-seeded opposition to all things romantic, Ivy has her hands full: she needs to make him not only fall in love with her, but to realize, admit, and EMBRACE it. This sounds like a monumental task, but Ivy is convinced she can handle it, and considering her ability to solve OMG-wedding-day problems for her clients, there’s room for hope.
Her colleagues? Not so much believers. Ivy’s friends and coworkers — who rock so hard I want them for myself — have seen this all before. To put it nicely, they remain unconvinced. Adding to the oft-hilarity of having Bennett in constant proximity with a world of circling hearts is the group dynamic, which is practically a character in itself. At some point during the reading, I realized I would probably recognize most of these guys if I saw them on the street, which either says a lot about Ms. Barth’s writing or my own mental state. (Eh…probably a little of each.)
Needless to say, Ivy’s well-sculpted plans don’t go as … planned. The first notable kink in her streak of perfection comes at the worst time — an important family event — during which Bennett makes a cringe-worthy scene in front of pretty much everyone Ivy knows. (No, really, I cringed. And might have offered some him unsolicited advice, which he naturally ignored, apparently because scolding the screen of a Kindle isn’t an effective method of communication).
I loved this story. To say it’s delicious is an understatement (oh, yeah, there are some calories involved), and when I say I want to hang out with these characters I am SO not kidding. Some of my favorite moments are those when Bennett realizes this group of awesome doesn’t just belong to Ivy anymore … they’re his friends, too, and genuinely so. As as genuine friends are prone to do, they don’t lead him to this conclusion by being polite. They do so with some well-aimed brutality, hitting him, like Ivy, where it hurts-so-good: his heart.
If you enjoy lighthearted contemporary romance, PLANNING FOR LOVE belongs at the top of your reading pile. I’m SO looking forward to the next installment in Ms. Barth’s Aisle Bound series!
(copy provided by the author for review)