Mary Kay Andrews
Save the Date
St. Martin's Press / June 3, 2014 / $26.99 print, $12.99 digital
A Savannah florist is about to score the wedding of a lifetime—one that will solidify her career as the go-to-girl for society nuptials. Ironically, Cara Kryzik doesn't believe in love, even though she creates beautiful flower arrangements to celebrate them. But when the bride goes missing and the wedding is in jeopardy, Cara must find the bride and figure out what she believes in. Maybe love really does exist outside of fairy tales after all.
It only takes reading a page or two of one of Mary Kay Andrews's books to remind me why I enjoy her books so much. Of course it is a given that I enjoy her plots, and her writing, but what makes her books stand out to me are well-rounded and fleshed-out characters.
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading almost perfect heroines and heroes as much as the next romance reader. But as readers, sometimes we just want to read about a heroine who experiences emotions and situations like we do: having to borrow money from relatives, having a cooler die in her flower shop which then toasts all of her twelve thousand dollars of flower inventory, or worst of all, having a jerk steal her dog. Cara Kryzik is one such heroine.
Transplanted from the Midwest, Cara has had a difficult time since moving to Savannah. It has been a struggle to fit in with the inherently insular and wary small town and its noisy populace, most of whom seem to view Savannah as the Paris of the South. Still, Cara loves her flower shop, and is determined to make it a success. It helps that she is extremely talented and visionary with her creations.
It's ironic that she has made a name for herself doing weddings because since her divorce, she is not a believer in happy-ever-after. But talent alone doesn’t pay the bills or keep antiquated equipment running, as Cara discovers. New competition moves in, and that competition has connections to the Savannah’s old guard society that Cara doesn’t. That doesn’t mean she is going to throw in the towel, though, because there is a future wedding that could just put her business back in the black. But along the way she runs into plenty of roadblocks, and this is where Cara comes alive on the pages. Like when she is trying to explain to her father why she hasn’t been able to make her promised payment to him:
“Our agreement was that you’d start making payments on the loan in February. You should have had plenty of money from Valentine’s Day business, right?”
She felt a stabbing pain between her eyes. “We actually had a pretty good Valentine’s Day. But all the profits went back into the shop. My computer died, and I had to buy a new one…”
“Not my problem,” her father shot back. “If you’d prepared a detailed business plan, as I’d suggested, you could have anticipated that a five year-old computer would need to be replaced. It’s called a contingency plan. These things are a cost of doing business, Cara.”
“I know, but…”
“If you’ve got business coming into the shop, I’d think you’d be in a position to start re-paying at least the interest on your loan,” he went on.
“Dad, if you’d just let me explain,” Cara started.
But the Colonel wasn’t interested in explanations. Not from her. And then there are the zealous brides who have been planning for their wedding since they were in their teens:
The bride leaned across Cara’s desk and stabbed a long pearly pink fingernail at page 72 of the March 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Weddings. The page was dog-eared, and the rest of the magazine bristled with pink Post-it notes. “This one. This is the exact bouquet I want. I’ve saved this magazine since I was 18 years-old. I picked out my wedding dress because I knew it would go with this bouquet.”
Cara groaned inwardly. How well she knew this particular wedding bouquet. She was sure it was the most-pinned item on every single bride’s Pinterest page in the universe. She wanted to rip page 72 out of this magazine, ball it up and burn it. Instead, she did what she always did. She picked up a pencil and pointed it at each flower in the bouquet. “Heather, these flowers here? They are Casablanca lilies. They wholesale at $30.00 a stem. . . Now these—these are the budget killers. Lilies of the valley are so tiny, you need a lot of them to make any impact. One tiny bunch, which is ten skinny stems is $90.00. I’d say there are at least six bunches in this bouquet. That’s $360.00. . . Heather, the bouquet you’re looking at cost roughly $1200.00.”
But there is also Cara’s kindness too:
“Loorrrd,” he drawled. “When I looked out the window and saw those two pull up in that tired old Ford Fiesta I almost told them they’d come to the wrong place. What I don’t get is why you didn’t just tell them you can’t do a Bloom wedding for $2,000. Why didn’t you just tell them to take their sad little selves out to Sam’s Club.“
“Cut it out Bert,” Cara said sharply. “I can’t blame the girl for wanting something nice. Most girls dream about their wedding day their whole life. It’s not Heather’s fault all those magazine and websites love to feature fantasy weddings.”
But Cara’s niceness doesn’t mean she lets people walk all over her, as Jack Finnerty discovers:
“You mind?” he said pointedly, fastening the studs on his tux shirt. “I’m trying to get dressed here.”
"And I’m trying to get my dog back,” Cara said. “I’m not leaving this room until you agree to hand over Poppy.”
“Suit yourself,” he said. He unzipped his jeans and nimbly stepped out of them. Cara blushed and looked away quickly, but the impression was made and it caused an involuntary fluttering in her chest. The starched shirt-tails hung just low enough to reveal an inch or two of black briefs and tanned, well-muscled thighs. The dognapper was a very um, well-proportioned man.
Cara’s tribulations will entertain you, but her gumption and resourcefulness will charm you. This Midwestern girl shows some Southern “True Grit” and along the way finds more happiness than she ever expected.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews, available May 27, 2014:
Leigh Davis, blogger