Runaway Bridesmaid faces a familiar problem in a folksy rural town in Alabama with more panache than a reader might expect. It also contains an
oft-used plot device: young teenage lovers split up, one leaving town, with the teenage boy not knowing about the child he fathered.
The unwed mother in this story is Dr. Sarah Whitehouse, now the town vet, who instead of relinquishing her child for adoption devised a way of keeping her (with the aid of her mother). Sarah’s mom had a mid-life pregnancy and lost the child in a miscarriage. Sarah had moved out of town allegedly to recover from mononucleosis. Her mother joined her and they both returned to town with baby Katie now known Sarah’s baby sister.
Dean Parrish had been Sarah’s best friend forever, but pressure from the aunt who reared him after his parents died made him realize that dyslexic as he was, he could only be a hindrance to the very bright and ambitious Sarah. He staged an ugly fight, lied about not caring for her and left town.
Nine years later, Dean’s younger brother is about to marry Sarah’s sister and the best man is suddenly unable to serve. A week before the wedding, Dean steps up in his place and the wedding plans go forward with Sarah paired with Dean for the first time in almost a decade for the entire seven days before the wedding.
Unfortunately, Sarah is still in love with Dean but so hurt she won’t communicate with him. From his point of view, all he can do is apologize. The line that “what I did was best for you” falls as flat with Sarah as it would with anyone. So Dean retreats, regroups and varies his strategy to regain Sarah.
Sarah’s problem is obvious: it is hard to condemn someone for lying to her about their relationship, when she by omission has lied in failing to disclose the fact to Katie and to Dean that he is her father.
The characters are likeable, unaffected and unsophisticated with the dialogue on the simple side. For brief moments a reader can slip into the social fabric of a small country town.
A real plus in Runaway Bridesmaid is that author Templeton has a light hand with past angst. The reader is not told repeatedly what the problems are but recognizes them from the actions of the characters.
This is an easy read but lacks the usual element of suspense that one has come to expect from a novel in the Intimate Moments series.