The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck (review)

theweddingdress_hauck_thomasnelsonfrom the book cover:

Four brides. One dress.

A tale of faith, redemption,

and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift—and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress—or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte purchases a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new, shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it?

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the beauty of finding true love.

◊   ◊   ◊

This book pushes a lot of my romance-reader buttons.  It has conflict, secrets, lead characters with integrity and faith, and a few characters and events that make things a bit more interesting on the way to happily ever after.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of dual-timeline stories, and that might have tripped me up if the author hadn’t so seamlessly woven THE dress throughout each of four brides stories.  And along with the (sisterhood of the traveling) wedding dress that magically miraculously fits each bride without alteration, a certain odd gentleman in purple who seems to be in the right places at all the right times to give little nudges to those brides.

“Some of the world’s best love stories are about men and women who met one day and married the next.”  “Yeah, like who?” …”I don’t know…but I’m sure it’s true.” (p.221)

While some of the characters (ok, mostly Tim) took me a bit to warm to, I instantly fell for Grace and her beau.  There is something about encountering lively older characters in novels that just tickles me pink, and I have a definite fondness for 1930’s stories.

Ultimately, this is an unabashedly romantic novel.  Romance that spreads across the decades and links four women in more ways than one.  It is also very much a feel-good novel that manages to touch on many topics including prejudice, pride, grief, and faith.

Can’t always have life the way we want it.  But there’s always pizza. ~Charlotte, p.221

Having read the entire Royal Wedding series in quick succession last December, I once again enjoyed the author’s writing voice in The Wedding Dress.  Though the plot and structure of this novel is quite different, I thought it was good that there had been some time since reading the series or else the similarities could easily blend them together in my mind.

Hauck’s writing is consistent, pleasant, and inviting.  I love how the faith of the characters is just out there, being lived and discussed, and I always enjoy seeing how she weaves in the supernatural element.  Her characters are also consistent, unfortunately, in that they sometimes almost feel like watching the same set of actors trying to take on slightly different roles in a series of movies.

An enjoyable, quick, and decidedly Southern read.  3/5 stars for sheer romance and enjoyable storylines.

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck | Thomas Nelson, 2012 | paperback, 337 pages

This review refers to a finished copy received from Thomas Nelson and Zondervan’s Fiction Guild.  No compensation was received.  All opinions expressed are my own.