Review: You Say It First by Susan Mallery (Happily Inc #1)

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

Prior to reading You Say It First, I had only ever read one other Susan Mallery title--Daughters of the Bride--although her epic Fool's Gold series has been on my to-be-read list for what feels like forever. Now I wish that I had read said series because her new Happily Inc series feels like a spin-off. That's not to say that you won't be able to enjoy You Say It First--or I'm guessing the rest of the upcoming Happily Inc books--without having read the original series. I'm just the kind of reader that prefers to read interconnected books in the order that they're supposed to--EVEN when they're promoted as standalones. Let's face it, they're part of a series for a reason, and more often than not, there are recurring characters, especially when it's a small-town romance series. At least that's what reading as much as I do has taught me. That being said, however, if you aren't as neurotic (cough*anal*cough) a reader as I am, you can jump into this new series free of any reading prerequisites and enjoy it absolutely on its own merits. Even with my need to read all books in a series in order, I was still able to appreciate this series starter.

Set in the fictional town of Happily Inc, California, the series starts off with Nick Mitchell and Pallas Saunders. Nick is a gifted and well-known artist and sculptor who has moved to Happily Inc on the heels of his two youngest brothers, Mathias and Ronan, in order to distance himself from their domineering father. The two eldest Mitchell brothers, Del and Aidan, found love and got their happily-ever-afters in Thrill Me and Best of My Love, both novels in the Fool's Gold series. Nick is waiting on a commission that'll have him staying in Dubai for two years if it's given to him. To bide his time, he decides to work as a carpenter for Weddings in a Box, a company which specializes in weddings that can be customized based on choices in a menu of sorts. Passed down to Pallas by her late mentor, she wants nothing more than to make a success out of the business, a lofty goal in the eyes of her mother who would prefer her daughter work in the family-owned bank. Both have family issues and are at a crossroads of sorts with their work, but can they find their way to love and happiness with each other and see they're worth the risk?

This certainly checked a lot of boxes on my list of romance fiction must-haves. As a series starter, the story really is about Nick and Pallas, but we're also introduced to quite a few notable supporting characters, Nick's younger brothers, Pallas's circle of girlfriends, and Pallas's cousin (who also happens to be the ex-boyfriend of one of her closest friends, so I'm smelling a second chance romance sometime in the future!). We also get a feel for the town of Happily Inc, which I found quite interesting since it's a town that's earned a reputation as a wedding destination, all thanks to the town legend. Nick and Pallas's story itself was a slow burner and I appreciated that we got to know them and fell in love right alongside them. One of my favorite things about it, though, was the planning and execution of Nova and Joel's wedding. I had it pictured in my head and it was enchanting! The last couple of chapters did feel a teeny tiny bit rushed, but other than that, I quite enjoyed this small-town romance and am all excited to start reading the ARC for the second book. Fingers crossed it'll be as good as You Say It First! Four stars. ♥

Date Read: 02 September 2017

Learn more about Susan Mallery.

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