RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck


Title: The Wedding Dress
Author: Rachel Hauck
Publication Info: Thomas Nelson 2012
ISBN: 9781595549631
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book The Wedding Dress This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Celia. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Inspirational Romance category.

The summary:     

Four brides. One Dress. A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can't she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new-shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”

Charlotte's search for the gown's history-and its new bride-begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share.

For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte's heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

And here is Celia's review:

I was prepared to love this book.  I really was.  I mean, it’s about a magical wedding dress.  What’s not to love?  Well, as it turns out, most of the book. 

Right from the start our heroine Charlotte is trying to figure out whether or not she should marry Tim.  In great detail.  We haven’t even met Tim yet and already she’s casting all these doubts on his character.  By the end of the first chapter, I honestly didn’t want her to marry Tim at all.  Not because he’s a bad guy but because I was so annoyed with Charlotte’s introspective, wishy-washy lack of decision making that I hoped Tim would be the smart one and get out while he still could.

By the time the second storyline about Emily, the first woman to wear the wedding dress, came around, I was already predisposed to like her because she wasn’t Charlotte.  And for a while I did.  I liked Emily.  She stood up for her beliefs, had rendezvous with men in the shadows, and called out of open windows against her mother’s wishes.  Then came the part where she had to chose between two guys.  Would she marry the rich playboy Phillip or the poor, honest Daniel?  I know what you’re thinking, we’ve heard that one before but hey, you never know, it might make things interesting.  It didn’t.  Instead Emily finds out Phillip is cheating.  She SEES him necking (yes, I did just say necking) with another woman on a street corner and she’s still going to marry him!  Ok so there’s her family and societal expectations but blah blah blah.  I mean this is a woman who will go get a dress from a black seamstress during the Jim Crow laws in the south yet she’ll also marry a guy who’s publicly cheating on her?  He says things like “Would a man who kissed you like that be burning away his desires with another woman?” I get that she’s innocent but come on.

Then there is the business of the wedding dress secret.  Charlotte spends most of her time trying to figure out who wore the dress and what it’s history is.  Only, get this, through Emily’s story we already know the history.  Actually, the back of the book tells us the history.  I read the back and thought to myself, ok, so she meets these three other women and they all get know each other and bond over this dress.  No.  She goes searching for the women who wore the dress but she never even meets Emily, she doesn’t find Hillary until halfway through the book and doesn’t meet Mary Grace until the end.  I knew more about the dress than Charlotte did.  Obviously it was the same one Emily was having made from the beginning.  Worst kept secret ever.

Hillary, the third woman to wear the dress, was ALL over the place.  She’s supposed to be an older woman but then she’s compared to Charlotte as a sister?  She’s wild with grief one moment and then wants to be BFFs the next.  I just found her annoying and was glad she didn’t show up earlier in the book.  Oh and apparently her second husband was still alive.  Yeah, that was completely dropped until the end.

My absolute biggest problem with the book was it gave away the climatic ending way too early!  I was excited to see how Emily’s wedding day played out because I figured, with that much frustrated testosterone there was bound to be something fantastic.  Was she going to ride off on a white stallion with Daniel?  Or would she go through with the wedding to Phillip and solidify her status as my least favorite character ever?  The anticipation was mounting.  Then, new info is uncovered in Charlotte’s storyline that gives away the ending.  And its just mentioned  once in passing so you might miss it.  Oh no, Emily’s married last name, her husband’s name, the whole end to her story was spelled out before I got to read it for myself.  I was so mad.  The great wedding scene I was looking forward to was completely ruined.  If I hadn’t been so close to the end that I felt compelled to see it through, I might have stopped reading entirely.

I thought there was a lot of irrational point of view switching.  I understand (sort of) switching between Charlotte and Emily as the two protagonists but did we need to hear from Daniel and Tim as well?  Oh and have one short section from Mary Grace’s POV?  In general I find switching points of view in romance novels to be ok but unnecessary.  This random switching between so many characters, sometimes in the middle of a chapter, was just obnoxious.  No, I don’t care how Tim feels about Charlotte because he just told Charlotte how he feels about her.

If you haven’t gathered, this was not the book for me.  I thought the writing was decent.  The description is a little lengthy but overall good.  The religious elements weren’t overpowering but added to the characters and how they related to one another.  So if you like introspective whining and premature endings, this is the book for you.  C+

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