Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2012/08/06/review-planning-for-love-by-christi-barth/
I am such a sucker for weddings, and contemporary romance, so when I saw this new author and book from Carina Press, I requested it immediately. I have to say, not only am I so glad that I got this book, it will probably be one of my favorite contemporary romances of the year!
Ivy is a wedding planner and a hopeless romantic. She believes wholeheartedly in love, and loves going to work every day doing the thing she loves: helping couples show and share their love through their wedding. When she finds out at the last minute that one of her brides will be on a sleezy reality show, she worries that her career as a respected wedding planner is down the drain. Instead, the network executives were so impressed with her they tap her to do her own wedding show.
Ivy never expected her one-night stand Ben to show up as her cameraman for the new show, especially after their disastrous and fabulous first date. But the more time they spend together, the more Ivy knows Ben is the one, and the more determined she is to make him fall in love with her. The only problem is that Ben is so jaded, he might not be able to stick it out, regardless of if he falls for her right back.
I can not say enough good things about this book. All of the things I loved the most about the Bride Quartet series by Nora Roberts: the friendship between co-workers, the elegant and amazing weddings, and the beautiful core romance were all just as fabulous in Barth’s story. Add in the playful writing and sexy interludes, and it was an all around incredible contemporary romance read.
One of the things I loved most about this book was Ivy’s unwavering belief in love. She was so optimistic, so set in her faith that love really can conquer all, and she lives her life to the fullest with that belief every day. Many times when heroines are so obsessed with love, they can come across as desperate, however Ivy was so genuine and sweet and caring and loving with every single person she came across, and it felt so refreshing for me while reading. I loved that she loved her job, that she treated each and every person she met with the utmost respect and care, and that she was just such a loveable heroine.
While Ben was a complete opposite in his beliefs, constantly quoting the divorce rate and all the horrors a wedding day can bring – bridezillas, heinous mother-in-laws, etc – he was also a romantic in disguise. He never seemed to realize that he was sweeping Ivy off her feet with every small and sweet gesture, every helpful hand, every supportive shoulder. He talked big about never wanting to fall in love, never wanting to get married, and yet his actions were always loving and caring and supportive toward Ivy, the exact opposite of his words. It was kinda sweet to see him be so clueless, and yet such a fabulous hero at the same time.
Their romance was great as well. It started off with a bang (literally) and after they knew they could heat up the sheets, Ivy backed off and tried so hard to get Ben to fall for her emotionally as well. the sexual tension that went along with their dates and interactions at work blew me away and had me giggling and smiling at every page. I absolutely adored their journey together and can’t wait to see more of them in future books as they settle more into their relationship.
The supporting cast of characters is absolutely AWESOME as well. I loved Ivy’s business partner and team, as well as the group of guys that Ben finds himself falling in with. I liked that Barth added male characters who were part of the wedding scene, and yet manly and strong hero material as well. I never thought I’d be so excited to read about a male cake decorator, but I am swooning for more of Sam!
All in all this was such a fabulous contemporary read. The hero and heroine are both deep and wonderful characters in their own right, and when brought together they light up the book. Their friends and family are wonderful supporting characters as well, and make for a wonderful foundation for a series I know will be at the top of my to-buy list. Contemporary romance fans need to go out and read this book immediately, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
I give Planning for Love an A-