Review: The Secret Bride by Jeannie Watt (Secrets of Cherry Lake #5)


Note: This ARC was provided by Tule Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ten years ago, Jacie Rose left Brett Jackson waiting at the courthouse where they were supposed to get married. Now, she's returned to Cherry Lake to head a renovation project of a historic hotel. With her daughter Darby in tow, she's ready to face the challenges of the job and even her ex-stepfather who treated her terribly. The one thing she isn't prepared for is seeing Brett again and learning that he's her neighbor. She's hesitant to re-start the friendship she once had with the guy who was willing to marry her because she was pregnant with another man's child, but soon her old feelings for him re-surface. Can she provide her daughter the kind of home life she's always planned while becoming involved with Brett or will she end up having to choose the safety and security of her daughter over her own chance at happiness?

The Secret Bride by Jeannie Watt is the fifth and final book in the multi-authored Secrets of Cherry Lake series and is about another Jackson cousin, Brett, and the girl he almost married ten years ago, Jacie Rose. This is a mix of two well-loved tropes: second chance romance and friends to lovers, although Brett and Jacie were nothing more than friends as teenagers and their mutual crushes on each other were unknown to the other until their little reunion. Brett's an honest-to-goodness good guy who wants nothing more than a chance to re-kindle his friendship with Jacie and see where it could lead, but Jacie is very wary and her over-protectiveness toward her daughter becomes her constant and convenient excuse to not pursue anything with Brett even though she really wants to, so there's a lot of back and forth between these two.

I admit that I much preferred Brett over Jacie, and I think a lot of that had to do with her running from her problems and underestimating her own daughter and what Darby was capable of understanding and accepting. Children see more than we think they do, and Darby was no fool, being highly aware of what was going on and being far more mature in how she viewed it all than how her own mother handled it. I did like that Jacie was trying to be a good mother, but it got to the point where she was trying too hard. I'm glad that what happened between her and Brett was handled the way that it was because I would have honestly been rather upset if, after the choices that were made, the aggrieved party was the one who had to make amends. Sometimes, the other person has to prove they're just as invested in the relationship.

But, while I was not a Jacie fan, I did enjoy the story of a woman struggling to stand her ground and look forward instead of constantly looking back on the past. The theme of family remains consistent in the series and it's one of the things I loved best about it. And while this was a pretty quick read, there was no rushing whatsoever in the story. Readers get to see the hesitance and misgivings about beginning any sort of relationship and we're able to read about the experiences Brett and Jacie go through as two individuals who try to have something more than friendship but one isn't as prepared to be an actual couple in public. There's always drama in this series, but there's also always that lightheartedness leaves you with a smile on your face. I've enjoyed the Secrets of Cherry Lake series and I'm giving The Secret Bride five stars. ♥

Release Date: 15 September 2015

Date Read: 14 September 2015

Learn more about Jeannie Watt here.

Pre-order The Secret Bride on Amazon | Kobo.

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