Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bed Of Roses by Nora Roberts

Title: Bed Of Roses
Author: Nora Roberts

Type: Contemporary Romance
Series: Book 2 in the Bride quartet
Published: 2009

Blurb: As little girls MacKensie, Emma, Laurel, and Parker spent hours acting out their perfect make believe "I do" moments. Years later their fantasies become reality when they start their own wedding planning company to make every woman's dream day come true. With perfect flowers, delicious desserts, and joyful moments captured on film, Nora Roberts's Bride Quartet shares each woman's emotionally magical journey to romance.

In Bed of Roses, florist Emma Grant is finding career success with her friends at Vows wedding planning company, and her love life appears to be thriving. Though men swarm around her, she still hasn't found Mr. Right. And the last place she's looking is right under her nose.

But that's just where Jack Cooke is. He's so close to the women of Vows that he's practically family, but the architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship. When Emma returns his passion-kiss for blistering kiss-they must trust in their history...and in their hearts.

Why: Duh.

Thoughts: I enjoyed this one as much if not more than the first, Vision In White. Because this is Nora Roberts, there is little left to say on characterization, prose, strength of storyline, etc. It's all good. As it always is. However, I can talk a bit about Emma and Jack, point out the one thing that didn't totally work for me and throw out a couple of thoughts sparked by this book.

I liked Emma's "normal." Great family, great friends, great job. No hang-ups here, just a true romantic who is crazy passionate about her job. And apparently she is stunningly beautiful. I loved how Roberts conveyed that...with the jokes about Emma's never-ending line of men (when she wants them) and with the male viewpoints about Emma's gorgeous Mom (with only hints at the beauty she passed to Emma). So not an outright point of discussion or internal thought, just a few well-placed jolts to let readers know she's all that and a bag of chips.

Jack is the one with the baggage. Divorced parents add up to committment issues for him. Other than that, he is a fun-loving guy, with great friends and great job. To me, he was as likable as Emma. He was not a "project" in my mind, didn't need saving or enlightening. He was just a guy living free and single for now. I figured he had plenty of time left to outgrow his aversion to committment; or that he would overcome it (without too much fanfare) when he fell for Ms. Right.

Jack and Emma share history. They are friends, fixtures in each others' lives. The conflict is a simple one--she's a romantic believer in marriage, he's not. Because Roberts masterfully balanced conflict with romance (the unfolding of it), I began and finished the story in total relax mode. Well...not entirely true. I'd had a hell of a bad day and, unable to sleep, I picked up Bed Of Roses and read it straight through. That it relaxed me, diverted my attention from personal troubles, says much for Roberts. Like I said, it was balanced. I tingled at the sexual tension, then fell in love and finally, accepted that it was time for Jack to get over it. It was all pretty smooth. And honestly, very enjoyable.

That last bit however, is the one thing that didn't totally work for me. I have never been overly romantic about marriage--not when I was young and single and not now, after 13 years of marriage. I believe in it, sure. I'm just a practical sort and can point to lots of practical reasons why folks should wait a bit on marriage. In Bed Of Roses, I wanted marriage for Emma and Jack. HEA, duh. However, I didn't totally accept Emma's anger and her friends' unwavering support of her position when Jack failed to cast off his fears and commit for the long haul. They dated for months, not years--not even A year. What in the hell was the rush exactly? I understood her feelings about wanting in his personal space. Those were fair. But wanting or viewing those things as some measure of long-term committment? Didn't completely buy it. And thought her a little immature or pollyanna for it. Although...not necessarily while in the story. Like I said, I really, really enjoyed this book. It was after putting it down that I gave thought to this little piece of unreasonableness.

One more comment before I digress to the 'sparked thoughts.' Roberts got me good with the sequel baiting for Laurel. Got. Me. Good. That one promises to be very, very sexy.

Ok, stray thoughts. First, the book itself. Just gorgeous. Almost too pretty to read. Don't know where this bit of marketing genius originated, but Wow these books are just so beautiful. Straying further...have you noticed the new squared look of book cover images online? Look at the most recent Writerspace-news email touting November releases. Look at the image of Bed Of Roses I copied from Barnes And Noble. The book cover images are squaring up. And I don't like it. Which is strange because that kind of thing rarely blips on my radar. But somehow, to me, they look less like books and more like CDs or something. Don't care for it.

Second, I did notice Roberts' inner gardener in here. In her gardening trilogy a couple years back, I thought there was far too much of the science behind gardening. In her Bride quartet, thus far, there is quite a bit about the business of weddings, including the floral arrangements. Here though, it all feels balanced and necessary to the act of immersing myself in the lives of her characters. I mention it because I followed Bed Of Roses with Jasmine Haynes' Show And Tell. In that one, I didn't have nearly enough context and it bugged. Made me think back to an example of 'work detail' that served the characters well. An example Roberts easily sets with Vows.

Without looking, I'm sure we'll get the baker's story next. Then the conclusion, featuring the group's leader, Laurel. There's an interesting question in that sequence, raised by Jessica this week. I tend to agree with her on this.


  1. Shoot. Your review makes me want to pick up a NR again.

  2. Holy goodness, nobody ever has to write another review of this book, yours takes the cake! Fantastic review JenniferB!

  3. I'm on the library wait list for this and looking forward to it. I agree with your stray thoughts, especially about how beautiful these books are. They're throwbacks to a time when the physical act of producing a book was as important as the content. Lovely to see.

  4. Great review, Jennifer!! I felt exactly the same way as you. The book is great, except for the conflict. First, I'm so tired of it, it's always the same thing, one cannot commit, usually the hero.

    And I did think that Emma kind of blew off for nothing. I mean, Jack was kind of justified for being annoyed after his tough day.

    Hopefully, Laurel's book will have a different conflict.

  5. Lori - I'd recommend this quartet, knowing your tastes. Really. For me, this will be a Nora couple of weeks, LOL. Bed Of Roses, Kindred In Death and Black Hills. Have em' all.

    Thanks Rowena. :-) Wow.

    Phyl - I recall how militant I got every time my 6-year-old BOY even looked at the book. "DON'T touch that!" Beautiful AND borrowed from the library. And yes, something to be treasured, for all it conjures up about when we each fell in love with reading.

    Nath - Totally. I felt for Jack in that scene. Specially as a sufferer of headaches. Her anger I didn't get. His WTF? I totally got. Wondering about Laurel's opposites attract thing to start.

  6. I know! I totally got Jack in that scene. Emma really blew up for nothing in my opinion... You know what annoyed me the most though in this book? Parker pointing out to Emma that she was in love with Jack. I mean, I know Parker knows-it all... but that's not really helping them. I don't think Emma was ready to realize it. Anyway.

    So far, we've seen heroine afraid to commit. Now, we got hero afraid to commit. Hopefully, Laurel and Del will jump at the opportunity to commit, LOL :)

  7. I didn't read your review because I plan to read the book (someday..after I read the first one). But this made me LOL:

    Why: Duh.


  8. I totally agree with the review. I was very happy to have read and finished the book. Honestly though, I am more excited now to read the next in the quartet. So sad I have to wait months for it :(

  9. I had to come back and re-visit this comment thread because I just finished this book today. I can't resist the chance to say how much I agree with your review. I really did enjoy this book, although like you and Nath, I thought Emma over-reacted to Jack at the end. And yeah, love that set up for Laurel. And even the one for Parker & Mal--I'm assuming I've got that one right.

  10. Glad you enjoyed in Phyl and J! I'm looking forward to the third installment too, now that you mention it. Was so tweaked by Laurel's story, I'd forgotten the tension Roberts' has been building for Parker's story.

  11. I really like the 1st book, Vision in White. I also enjoyed this one, up until the end. In this book Emma and Jack get together after knowing each other for over a decade and being close friends. They are worried that they will lose their friendship, but move past that and form a really nice, romatic relationship.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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