Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Happy Birthday, assmonkey.”
Abigail had her whole world planned out until the love of her life left her standing at the altar on their wedding day. Now, ten years later, her runaway groom has come home. He wants a second chance but Abigail has closed that chapter of her life.
Braxton Dean left town and his best friend when his fears got the best of him. He regrets his disappearing act and after spending years trying to forget her, he has come home to face the music. Either he’s going to win her back, or let her go for good.
Braxton and Abigail square off as an entire town lines the streets and keeps the phone lines buzzing, taking sides and laying bets. Can Braxton and Abigail find their way back into each others hearts? It may take some nosy residents, a condom balloon bouquet, and a trip down memory lane for them to find their happily ever after.
Runaway Groom is a romantic contemporary that digs deep into your heart and funny bone and doesn’t let go. A fast paced humorous and heartfelt story about two people who are given a second chance at love again. Nelson uses dual POVs to give us a complete story with all the facts. The characters are all delightfully quirky and wonderfully flawed with a deep vein of realism running through them. The story is written in an enjoyable conversational style with engaging laugh out loud dialogue that will keep you entertained all the way to the end.
Emotionally satisfying and humorous to boot, we get a ringside seat as we watch Abby try to understand and come to terms with what happened ten years ago. Braxton explained everything to Abby in a series of letters that she claims she never received. You want to lay all the blame at Braxton’s feet but as the story develops, you realize that you can’t. There were mistakes made on both sides. Heavily character driven, it’s very easy to get caught up in their lives and develop affection for them. Abigail is a strong heroine who has admirably dealt with the hand life gave her with lots of humor, intelligence, and patience. She is not only hurt over Braxton’s disappearance but also angry. Angry he couldn’t just be honest with her. She deserved better and they both know that. Her life didn’t stop that day he left but it did leave her in a lot of pain and with a hole in her heart because not only did she lose the love of her life but her best friend.
The timbre of his voice seemed to stroke across her skin, stirring up a potent cocktail of emotions-lust, love, fury, and pain.
Braxton made me laugh and cringe as he tries to worm his way back into Abby’s life. He has some residual anger in him for Abby never answering his letters and he both flatters and accuses her throughout the book. He hurt her badly and accepts that he may never get her back into his life as a lover or even as a friend. He knows he needs to make amends to the town folks if he wants to get through to Abby. He too has hurt the entire time he was gone. He may have found himself but he too lost his best friend. He never forgot Abby and he never gave away his heart to another woman because she has held it since they were teenagers.
Only recently he’d figured out why he’d done it. The realization was still not a comfortable one.
The story itself is pretty straight forward in its delivery. Braxton and Abby grew up together, dated, got engaged, and almost married. Braxton disappears, then reappears years later with excuses. Sounds simple, but it’s not. We learn that sometimes what’s expected of you isn’t always the best thing for you. We learn communication is paramount between couples and fear can make you do really stupid things. While I enjoyed this tale, it’s the characters who breathed life into it and elevate it beyond a simple contemporary romance. Dynamic in development, Nelson gives us real people who react as we might. They are easy to relate to. Their joys, fears, wants, and needs are laid bare and we are allowed to share in their journey as they experience the lessons life hands us. The journey isn’t perfect and both protagonists have some issues that need to be resolved. The execution, with alternating points of view, flows effortlessly between the past and the present, offering a unique view into their thoughts and recollections. It’s a nice way to see what they thought had happened and what really did. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Braxton’s letters. One for everyday for he was gone. Regardless of what he did, you never ever doubt that he loved her…and still does.
“The promises I made you long ago…I meant them. I may have left your side, but I never left you, Abby. Not really. I took you with me, every step.”
Braxton and Abby are hilarious together. The chemistry explodes between them from the first time they see each other again. Theirs is not an instant reconnection and I appreciated that. Abby doesn’t make it easy for Braxton. Their reconciliation is slow as they reacquaint themselves with one another and learn to be honest with one another. There is something magical about watching two people who are given a second chance. You can feel the anger, resentment, confusion, and hurt rolling off them. It was both painful and funny to watch as these two struggle to find a way to forgive each other and themselves.
Maybe, just maybe, her knight in shining armor really could be the first boy she ever loved…
Equally engaging secondary characters round out the story and add lots of humor. Nothing beats small town antics. Especially when they get a notion in their head; like helping to facilitate a romance. Lou and Carnie, good friends to Braxton and Abby, offer insight, advice, and shoulders to cry on. We meet Abby’s mother and learn more about their co dependant relationship. The town folks are hilarious as they sneak around; waffling between wanting to protect Abby from getting hurt again and wanting her and Braxton to get back together. I would have liked more insight into Abby’s mother and Braxton’s father though. I felt that by not hearing their POVs we missed part of the story. We know what they did but not why. Abby’s sister. Good lord. *laughter* I feel sorry for any man that tries to take her on.
The ending is predictable but nice in how it plays out. Runaway Groom is a funny engaging romantic contemporary that will have you giggling and tearing up at times as you watch Braxton and Abby fight their way through the misconceptions and heartache to find their way back to each other.
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