The Love Charm

No Ordinary Princess

Sealed With a Kiss

Simple Jess

Sweetwood Bride

Here Comes the Bride
by Pamela Morsi
(Avon, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-06-101366-8
Pamela Morsi is one of those authors whose books I regularly buy but don’t read. I purchase the books because of the positive reviews and because of the storylines, as well as the nice things said about them on the lists. I don’t read them because I buy too darn many books every month and because I’ve never before been assigned one to review. So except for Courting Miss Hattie, Morsi is terra incognito for me. But not for long! I enjoyed Here Comes the Bride so much that Morsi has just moved from my “must buy” to my “must read” list.

I have heard this author referred to as the “Queen of Americana Romance” and I can sure see why. Morsi has the ability to recreate life in our country’s past to such a degree that one can almost feel the heat of a Texas summer, see the fireworks on the Fourth of July, and taste the hand cranked ice cream. She also has the ability to make the lives and loves of ordinary folks delightfully romantic.

Augusta Mudd, “Miss Gussie,” is a successful businesswoman in the small town of Cottonwood, Texas. She run’s the town’s ice plant and has since her father’s death. She has also turned thirty-one, and she wants to get married. For three years, she has been “walking out” with handsome Amos Dewey, the town’s barber. But Amos, apparently still grieving for his wife, isn’t thinking of remarriage. So Gussie decides that she has to do something drastic.

Gussie decides that what Amos needs is some competition so she asks her plant manager, Rome Akers to pretend to court her. If the ploy succeeds and Gussie gets what she wants -- a trip down the aisle - Rome will get what he wants to: a partnership in the plant. Rome, with some hesitation, agrees to the plan, as long as it is understood that the courtship isn’t for real. He’s not ready to settle down. After all, he has a friendly liaison going on with the town’s scandalous widow, Pansy Richardson. He’s certainly never thought of Miss Gussie in the role of his sweetheart.

Of course, there is that saying about “the best laid plans.” Gussie’s and Rome’s “courtship” certainly gets Amos’ attention, and that of the whole town as well. It also changes the dynamics between two people who have always had a business relationship. Gussie and Rome discover that they really enjoy each other’s company, that they laugh at the same jokes, that they have a lot in common. And when they arrange for Amos to see them kissing (a delightfully humorous episode centering on a kissing booth), those kisses send them both soaring. But Rome’s past comes between them and threatens their new found love.

Gussie is an unusual heroine in her devotion to her company. Her business-like approach to matrimony seems natural to her, sort of like creating a strategic plan and following it, makes sense. But she has to learn that the heart is not always logical. Rome is a fine hero, who, in the end, lives up to his real name, Romeo.

Morsi shows her talent in her creation of her secondary characters. The townspeople come alive in her pages, with all their good and bad points. Most cleverly, she does not make Amos a dolt. He might not be right for Gussie, but he is nonetheless an admirable fellow. We can understand why Gussie might well want to marry the man. We also understand why Amos, having closed himself off from all feeling after his wife died, never even thought of marrying Gussie.

Probably the most interesting secondary character is Pansy Richardson. The widow of the town’s richest man, she became a pariah after an understandable mistake borne of her grief and has proceeded to live down to the town’s expectations. How she redeems herself and gets her happy ending is one of the best parts of the story.

Here Comes the Bride manages to be humorous, touching, and romantic. It provides a charming glimpse of what small town life was like in early 20th century America. And it certainly helps me see why Pamela Morsi is such a popular and well-loved author.

--Jean Mason

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