Vision in White (Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet Series #1)

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Overview

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts cordially invites you to meet childhood friends Parker, Emma, Laurel, and Mac—the founders of Vows, one of Connecticut’s premier wedding planning companies.

With bridal magazine covers to her credit, Mackensie “Mac” Elliot is most at home behind the camera—ready to capture the happy moments she never experienced while growing up. Her father replaced his first family with a second, and now her mother, moving on to yet another man,...

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Vision in White (Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet Series #1)

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Overview

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts cordially invites you to meet childhood friends Parker, Emma, Laurel, and Mac—the founders of Vows, one of Connecticut’s premier wedding planning companies.

With bridal magazine covers to her credit, Mackensie “Mac” Elliot is most at home behind the camera—ready to capture the happy moments she never experienced while growing up. Her father replaced his first family with a second, and now her mother, moving on to yet another man, begs Mac for attention and money. Mac’s foundation is jostled again moments before an important planning meeting when she bumps into the bride-to-be’s brother…an encounter that has them both seeing stars.

Carter Maguire is definitely not her type: he’s stable, and he’s safe. He’s even an English teacher at their high school alma mater. There’s something about him that makes Mac think a casual fling is just what she needs to take her mind off dealing with bridezillas and screening her mother’s phone calls. But a casual fling can turn into something more when you least expect it. And with the help of her three best friends—and business partners—Mac must learn how to make her own happy memories…

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  • Vision in White
    Vision in White  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The frighteningly prolific Roberts (see also Black Hills, reviewed on page 42) kicks off a frothy series about four friends who form an all-inclusive wedding service called Vows. Mackensie "Mac" Elliot loves capturing happy and playful moments with her camera, but her own life is all about work-until she meets English teacher Carter Maguire. He's escorting his bride-to-be sister to a meeting with the Vows team and recognizes Mac as the girl he crushed out on in high school. Funny sparks fly: he's a geeky guy who quotes Shakespeare, she's a trendy workaholic who loves shoes. He's crazy about her, which makes him verbally clumsy and, to Mac, charming, though she's saddled with a needy mother, an absent father and difficulties with both that make falling in love complicated. Roberts pulls off a nice switch in making the woman afraid of saying "I do," and her gentle humor and likable cast will immediately endear this series to readers. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Nora Roberts just keeps getting better and better.
Booklist
Extraordinarily imaginative, prolific, and popular.
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Roberts weaves a story like no one else.
Library Journal

Enthralled by weddings since childhood, best friends Mackensie, Parker, Emmaline, and Laurel get a chance to live out their dreams when Parker inherits her family's Connecticut estate and suggests they go into business as wedding planners, with each woman taking over a special aspect of the event. Passionate about collecting happy moments on film ever since she was given a camera for her eighth birthday, Mac is the photographer, happily staying in the background and focusing on her work. Marriage is not on her radar, but when brainy, surprisingly perceptive Carter Maguire accidentally barges into her life, she knows everything is about to change-if only she will let it. A conflicted heroine and a hero with hidden depths slowly work their way toward commitment (and marriage) in this tender, funny, spicy romance that is the first installment in the author's "The Bride Quartet" series. Roberts (The Pagan Stone) lives in Keedysville, MD.


—Kristin Ramsdell
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780515150643
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Series: Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 93,945
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Nora Roberts is the number-one New York Times–bestselling author of Chasing Fire, The Search, and Black Hills, among other titles. She is also the author of the bestselling futuristic suspense series written under the pen name J. D. Robb. There are more than 400 million copies of her novels in print.

Biography

Not only has Nora Roberts written more bestsellers than anyone else in the world (according to Publishers Weekly), she’s also created a hybrid genre of her own: the futuristic detective romance. And that’s on top of mastering every subgenre in the romance pie: the family saga, the historical, the suspense novel. But this most prolific and versatile of authors might never have tapped into her native talent if it hadn't been for one fateful snowstorm.

As her fans well know, in 1979 a blizzard trapped Roberts at home for a week with two bored little kids and a dwindling supply of chocolate. To maintain her sanity, Roberts started scribbling a story -- a romance novel like the Harlequin paperbacks she'd recently begun reading. The resulting manuscript was rejected by Harlequin, but that didn't matter to Roberts. She was hooked on writing. Several rejected manuscripts later, her first book was accepted for publication by Silhouette.

For several years, Roberts wrote category romances for Silhouette -- short books written to the publisher's specifications for length, subject matter and style, and marketed as part of a series of similar books. Roberts has said she never found the form restrictive. "If you write in category, you write knowing there's a framework, there are reader expectations," she explained. "If this doesn't suit you, you shouldn't write it. I don't believe for one moment you can write well what you wouldn't read for pleasure."

Roberts never violated the reader's expectations, but she did show a gift for bringing something fresh to the romance formula. Her first book, Irish Thoroughbred (1981), had as its heroine a strong-willed horse groom, in contrast to the fluttering young nurses and secretaries who populated most romances at the time. But Roberts's books didn't make significant waves until 1985, when she published Playing the Odds, which introduced the MacGregor clan. It was the first bestseller of many.

Roberts soon made a name for herself as a writer of spellbinding multigenerational sagas, creating families like the Scottish MacGregors, the Irish Donovans and the Ukrainian Stanislaskis. She also began working on romantic suspense novels, in which the love story unfolds beneath a looming threat of violence or disaster. She grew so prolific that she outstripped her publishers' ability to print and market Nora Roberts books, so she created an alter ego, J.D. Robb. Under the pseudonym, she began writing romantic detective novels set in the future. By then, millions of readers had discovered what Publishers Weekly called her "immeasurable diversity and talent."

Although the style and substance of her books has grown, Roberts remains loyal to the genre that launched her career. As she says, "The romance novel at its core celebrates that rush of emotions you have when you are falling in love, and it's a lovely thing to relive those feelings through a book."

Good To Know

Roberts still lives in the same Maryland house she occupied when she first started writing -- though her carpenter husband has built on some additions. She and her husband also own Turn the Page Bookstore Café in Boonsboro, Maryland. When Roberts isn't busy writing, she likes to drop by the store, which specializes in Civil War titles as well as autographed copies of her own books.

Roberts sued fellow writer Janet Dailey in 1997, accusing her of plagiarizing numerous passages of her work over a period of years. Dailey paid a settlement and publicly apologized, blaming stress and a psychological disorder for her misconduct.

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    1. Also Known As:
      J. D. Robb; Sarah Hardesty; Jill March; Eleanor Marie Robertson (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      Keedysville, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      Silver Spring, Maryland

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

By the time she was eight, Mackensie Elliot had been married fourteen times. She’d married each of her three best friends—as both bride and groom—her best friend’s brother (under his protest), two dogs, three cats, and a rabbit. She’d served at countless other weddings as maid of honor, bridesmaid, groomsman, best man, and officiant. Though the dissolutions were invariably amicable, none of the marriages lasted beyond an afternoon. The transitory aspect of marriage came as no surprise to Mac, as her own parents boasted two each—so far.

Wedding Day wasn’t her favorite game, but she kind of liked being the priest or the reverend or the justice of the peace. Or, after attending her father’s second wife’s nephew’s bar mitzvah, the rabbi.

Plus, she enjoyed the cupcakes or fancy cookies and fizzy lemonade always served at the reception.

It was Parker’s favorite game, and Wedding Day always took place on the Brown Estate, with its expansive gardens, pretty groves, and silvery pond. In the cold Connecticut winters, the ceremony might take place in front of one of the roaring fires inside the big house.

They had simple weddings and elaborate affairs. Royal weddings, star- crossed elopements, circus themes, and pirate ships. All ideas were seriously considered and voted upon, and no theme or costume too outrageous.

Still, with fourteen marriages under her belt, Mac grew a bit weary of Wedding Day.

Until she experienced her seminal moment.

For her eighth birthday Mackensie’s charming and mostly absent father sent her a Nikon camera. She’d never expressed any interest in photography, and initially pushed it away with the other odd gifts he’d given or sent since the divorce. But Mac’s mother told her mother, and Grandma muttered and complained about “feckless, useless Geoffrey Elliot” and the inappropriate gift of an adult camera for a young girl who’d be better off with a Barbie doll.

As she habitually disagreed with her grandmother on principle, Mac’s interest in the camera piqued. To annoy Grandma— who was visiting for the summer instead of being in her retirement community in Scottsdale, where Mac strongly believed she belonged—Mac hauled the Nikon around with her. She toyed with it, experimented. She took pictures of her room, of her feet, of her friends. Shots that were blurry and dark, or fuzzy and washed out. With her lack of success, and her mother’s impending divorce from her stepfather, Mac’s interest in the Nikon began to wane. Even years later she couldn’t say what prompted her to bring it along to Parker’s that pretty summer afternoon for Wedding Day.

Every detail of the traditional garden wedding had been planned. Emmaline as the bride and Laurel as groom would exchange their vows beneath the rose arbor. Emma would wear the lace veil and train Parker’s mother had made out of an old tablecloth, while Harold, Parker’s aging and affable golden retriever walked her down the garden path to give her away. A selection of Barbies, Kens, and Cabbage Patch Kids, along with a variety of stuffed animals lined the path as guests.

“It’s a very private ceremony,” Parker relayed as she fussed with Emma’s veil. “With a small patio reception to follow. Now, where’s the best man?”

Laurel, her knee recently skinned, shoved through a trio of hydrangeas. “He ran away, and went up a tree after a squirrel. I can’t get him to come down.”

Parker rolled her eyes. “I’ll get him. You’re not supposed to see the bride before the wedding. It’s bad luck. Mac, you need to fix Emma’s veil and get her bouquet. Laurel and I’ll get Mr. Fish out of the tree.” “I’d rather go swimming,” Mac said as she gave Emma’s veil an absent tug.

“We can go after I get married.”

“I guess. Aren’t you tired of getting married?”

“Oh, I don’t mind. And it smells so good out here. Everything’s so pretty.”

Mac gave Emma the clutch of dandelions and wild violets they were allowed to pick. “You look pretty.”

It was invariably true. Emma’s dark, shiny hair tumbled under the white lace. Her eyes sparkled a deep, deep brown as she sniff ed the weed bouquet. She was tanned, sort of all golden, Mac thought, and scowled at her own milk white skin.

The curse of a redhead, her mother said, as she got her carroty hair from her father. At eight, Mac was tall for her age and skinny as a stick, with teeth already trapped in hated braces. She thought that, beside her, Emmaline looked like a gypsy princess.

Parker and Laurel came back, giggling with the feline best man clutched in Parker’s arms. “Everybody has to take their places.” Parker poured the cat into Laurel’s arms. Mac, you need to get dressed! Emma—”

“I don’t want to be maid of honor.” Mac looked at the poofy Cinderella dress draped over a garden bench. “That thing’s scratchy, and it’s hot. Why can’t Mr. Fish be maid of honor, and I’ll be best man?”

“Because it’s already planned. Everybody’s nervous before a wedding.” Parker flipped back her long brown pigtails, then picked up the dress to inspect it for tears or stains. Satisfied, she pushed it at Mac. “It’s okay. It’s going to be a beautiful ceremony, with true love and happy ever after.”

“My mother says happy ever after’s a bunch of bull.”

There was a moment of silence after Mac’s statement. The unspoken word divorce seemed to hang in the air. “I don’t think it has to be.” Her eyes full of sympathy, Parker reached out, ran her hand along Mac’s bare arm.

“I don’t want to wear the dress. I don’t want to be a bridesmaid. I—”

“Okay. That’s okay. We can have a pretend maid of honor. Maybe you could take pictures.”

Mac looked down at the camera she’d forgotten hung around her neck. “They never come out right.”

“Maybe they will this time. It’ll be fun. You can be the official wedding photographer.”

“Take one of me and Mr. Fish,” Laurel insisted, and pushed her face and the cat’s together. “Take one, Mac!”

With little enthusiasm, Mac lifted the camera, pressed the shutter.

“We should’ve thought of this before! You can take formal portraits of the bride and groom, and more pictures during the ceremony.” Busy with the new idea, Parker hung the Cinderella costume on the hydrangea bush. “It’ll be good, it’ll be fun. You need to go down the path with the bride and Harold. Try to take some good ones. I’ll wait, then start the music. Let’s go!”

There would be cupcakes and lemonade, Mac reminded herself. And swimming later, and fun. It didn’t matter if the pictures were stupid, didn’t matter that her grandmother was right and she was too young for the camera.

It didn’t matter that her mother was getting divorced again, or that her stepfather, who’d been okay, had already moved out. It didn’t matter that happy ever after was bull, because it was all pretend anyway.

She tried to take pictures of Emma and the obliging Harold, imagined getting the film back and seeing the blurry figures and smudges of her thumb, like always.

When the music started she felt bad that she hadn’t put on the scratchy dress and given Emma a maid of honor, just because her mother and grandmother had put her in a bad mood. So she circled around to stand to the side and tried harder to take a nice picture of Harold walking Emma down the garden path. It looked different through the lens, she thought, the way she could focus on Emma’s face—the way the veil lay over her hair. And the way the sun shined through the lace was pretty.

She took more pictures as Parker began the “Dearly Beloved” as the Reverend Whistledown, as Emma and Laurel took hands and Harold curled up to sleep and snore at their feet.

She noticed how bright Laurel’s hair was, how the sun caught the edges of it beneath the tall black hat she wore as groom. How Mr. Fish’s whiskers twitched as he yawned.

When it happened, it happened as much inside Mac as out. Her three friends were grouped under the lush white curve of the arbor, a triangle of pretty young girls. Some instinct had Mac shifting her position, just slightly, tilting the camera just a bit. She didn’t know it as composition, only that it looked nicer through the lens.

And the blue butterfly fluttered across her range of vision to land on the head of a butter yellow dandelion in Emma’s bouquet. The surprise and plea sure struck the three faces in that triangle under the white roses almost as one.

Mac pressed the shutter.

She knew, knew, the photograph wouldn’t be blurry and dark or fuzzy and washed out. Her thumb wouldn’t be blocking the lens. She knew exactly what the picture would look like, knew her grandmother had been wrong after all.

Maybe happy ever after was bull, but she knew she wanted to take more pictures of moments that were happy. Because then they were ever after.

CHAPTER ONE

On January first, Mac rolled over to smack her alarm clock, and ended up facedown on the floor of her studio.

“Shit. Happy New Year.”

She lay, groggy and baffled, until she remembered she’d never made it upstairs into bed—and the alarm was from her computer, set to wake her at noon.

She pushed herself up to stagger to the kitchen and the coffeemaker. Why did people want to get married on New Year’s Eve? Why would they make a formal ritual out of a holiday designed for marathon drinking and probably inappropriate sex? And they just had to drag family and friends into it, not to mention wedding photographers.

Of course, when the reception had finally ended at two a.m., she could’ve gone to bed like a sane person instead of uploading the shots, reviewing them—spending nearly three more hours on the Hines- Myers wedding photos.

But, boy, she’d gotten some good ones. A few great ones. Or they were all crap and she’d judged them in a euphoric blur.

No, they were good shots.

She added three spoons of sugar to the black coffee and drank it while standing at the window, looking out at the snow blanketing the gardens and lawns of the Brown Estate.

They’d done a good job on the wedding, she thought. And maybe Bob Hines and Vicky Myers would take a clue from that and do a good job on the marriage.

Either way, the memories of the day wouldn’t fade. The moments, big and small, were captured. She’d refine them, finesse them, print them. Bob and Vicky could revisit the day through those images next week or sixty years from next week.

That, she thought, was as potent as sweet, black coffee on a cold winter day.

Opening a cupboard, she pulled out a box of Pop- Tarts and, eating one where she stood, went over her schedule for the day. Clay- McFearson (Rod and Alison) wedding at six. Which meant the bride and her party would arrive by three, groom and his by four. That gave her until two for the pre- event summit meeting at the main house.

Time enough to shower, dress, go over her notes, check and recheck her equipment. Her last check of the day’s weather called for sunny skies, high of thirty- two. She should be able to get some nice preparation shots using natural light and maybe talk Alison—if she was game—into a bridal portrait on the balcony with the snow in the background.

Mother of the bride, Mac remembered—Dorothy (call me Dottie)—was on the pushy and demanding side, but she’d be dealt with. If Mac couldn’t handle her personally, God knew Parker would. Parker could and did handle anyone and anything. Parker’s drive and determination had turned Vows into one of the top wedding and event planning companies in the state in a fi ve- year period. It had turned the tragedy of her parents’ deaths into hope, and the gorgeous Victorian home and the stunning grounds of the Brown Estate into a thriving and unique business. And, Mac thought as she swallowed the last of the Pop- Tart, she herself was one of the reasons.

She moved through the studio toward the stairs to her upstairs bed and bath, stopped at one of her favorite photos. The glowing, ecstatic bride with her face lifted, her arms stretched, palms up, caught in a shower of pink rose petals. Cover of Today’s Bride, Mac thought. Because I’m just that good.

In her thick socks, flannel pants, and sweatshirt she climbed the stairs to transform herself from tired, pj- clad, Pop- Tart addict into sophisticated wedding photojournalist.

She ignored her unmade bed—why make it when you were just going to mess it up again?—and the bedroom clutter. The hot shower worked with the sugar and caffeine to clear out any remaining cobwebs so she could put her mind seriously to today’s job.

She had a bride who was interested in trying the creative, a passive- aggressive MOB who thought she knew best, a groom so dazzling in love he’d do anything to make his bride happy. And both her B and G were seriously photogenic.

The last fact made the job both plea sure and challenge. Just how could she give her clients a photo journey of their day that was spectacular, and uniquely theirs?

Bride’s colors, she thought, flipping through her mental fi les as she washed her short, shaggy crop of red hair. Silver and gold. Elegant, glamorous.

She’d had a look at the flowers and the cake—both getting their finishing touches today—the favors and linens, attendants’ wardrobes, headdresses. She had a copy of the playlist from the band with the first dance, mother- son, father- daughter dances highlighted.

So, she thought, for the next several hours, her world would revolve around Rod and Alison.

She chose her suit, her jewelry, her makeup with nearly the same care as she chose her equipment. Loaded, she went out to make the short trek from the pool house that held her studio and little apartment to the main house.

The snow sparkled, crushed diamonds over ermine, and the air was cold and clean as mountain ice. She definitely had to get some outside shots, daylight and evening. Winter wedding, white wedding, snow on the ground, ice glistening on the trees, just dripping from the denuded willows over the pond. And there the fanciful old Victorian with its myriad rooflines, the arched and porthole windows, rising and spreading, soft blue against the hard shell of sky. Its terraces and generous portico heralded the season with their festoons of lights and greenery.

She studied it as she often did as she walked the shoveled paths. She loved the lines of it, the angles of it, with its subtle touches of pale yellow, creamy white picked out in that soft, subtle blue.

It had been as much home to her as her own growing up. Often more so, she admitted, as her own had run on her mother’s capricious whims. Parker’s parents had been warm, welcoming, loving and—Mac thought now—steady. They’d given her a calm port in the storm of her own childhood.

She’d grieved as much as her friend at their loss nearly seven years before.

Now the Brown Estate was her home. Her business. Her life. And a good one on every level. What could be better than doing something you loved, and doing it with the best friends you’d ever had?

She went in through the mudroom to hang up her outdoor gear, then circled around to peek into Laurel’s domain. Her friend and partner stood on a step stool, meticulously adding silver calla lilies to the five tiers of a wedding cake. Each flower bloomed at the base of a gold acanthus leaf to glimmering, elegant effect.

“That’s a winner, McBane.”

Laurel’s hand was steady as a surgeon’s as she added the next lily. Her sunny hair was twisted at the back of her head into a messy knot that somehow suited the angular triangle of her face. As she worked, her eyes, bright as bluebells, held narrowed concentration. “I’m so glad she went for the lily centerpiece instead of the bride and groom topper. It makes this design. Wait until we get to the ballroom and add it.”

Mac pulled out a camera. “It’s a good shot for the website. Okay?”

“Sure. Get any sleep?”

“Didn’t hit until about five, but I stayed down till noon. You?”

“Down by two thirty. Up at seven to finish the groom’s cake, the desserts—and this. I’m so damn glad we have two weeks before the next wedding.” She glanced over. “Don’t tell Parker I said that.”

“She’s up, I assume.”

“She’s been in here twice. She’s probably been everywhere twice. I think I heard Emma come in. They may be up in the office by now.”

“I’m heading up. Are you coming?”

“Ten minutes. I’ll be on time.”

“On time is late in Parker’s world.” Mac grinned. “I’ll try to distract her.”

“Just tell her some things can’t be rushed. And that the MOB’s going to get so many compliments on this cake she’ll stay off our backs.”

“That one could work.”

Mac started out, winding through to check the entrance foyer and the massive drawing room where the ceremony itself would take place. Emmaline and her elves had already been at work, she noted, undressing from the last wedding, redressing for the new. Every bride had her own vision, and this one wanted lots of gold and silver ribbon and swag as opposed to the lavender and cream voile of New Year’s Eve.

The fire was set in the drawing room and would be lit before the guests began to arrive. White- draped chairs sparkling with silver bows formed row after row. Emma had already dressed the mantel with gold candles in silver holders, and the bride’s favorite white calla lilies massed in tall, thin glass vases.

Mac circled the room, considered angles, lighting, composition— and made more notes as she walked out and took the stairs to the third floor.

As she expected, she found Parker in the conference room of their office, surrounded by her laptop, BlackBerry, folders, cell phone, and headset. Her dense brown hair hung in a long tail—sleek and simple. It worked with the suit—a quiet dove gray—that would blend in and complement the bride’s colors. Parker missed no tricks.

She didn’t look up but circled a finger in the air as she continued to work on the laptop. Knowing the signal, Mac crossed to the coffee counter and filled mugs for both of them. She sat, laid down her own file, opened her own notebook.

Parker sat back, smiled, and picked up her mug. “It’s going to be a good one.”

“No doubt.”

“Roads are clear, weather’s good. The bride’s up, had breakfast and a massage. The groom’s had a workout and a swim.

Caterers are on schedule. All attendants are accounted for.” She checked her watch. “Where are Emma and Laurel?”

“Laurel’s putting the finishing touches on the cake, which is stupendous. I haven’t seen Emma, but she’s started dressing the event areas. Pretty. I want some outdoor shots. Before and after.” “Don’t keep the bride outside for too long before. We don’t want her red- nosed and sniffling.”

“You may have to keep the MOB off my back.”

“Already noted.”

Emma rushed in, a Diet Coke in one hand, a file in the other.

“Tink’s hungover and a no- show, so I’m one short. Let’s keep this brief, okay?” She dropped down at the table. Her curling black hair bounced over the shoulders of her sweatshirt. “The Bride’s Suite and the Drawing Room are dressed. Foyer and stairway, nearly finished. The bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres checked. We’ve started on the Grand Hall and the Ballroom. I need to get back to that.”

“Flower girl?”

“White rose pomander, silver and gold ribbon. I have her halo—roses and baby’s breath—ready for the hairdresser. It’s adorable. Mac, I need some pictures of the arrangements if you can fit it in. If not, I’ll get them.”

“I’ll take care of it.”

“Thanks. The MOB—”

“I’m on it,” Parker said.

“I need to—” Emma broke off as Laurel walked in.

“I’m not late,” Laurel announced.

“Tink’s a no- show,” Parker told her. “Emma’s short.”

“I can fill in. I’ll need to set the centerpiece of the cake and arrange the desserts, but I’ve got time now.”

“Let’s go over the timetable.”

“Wait.” Emma lifted her can of Diet Coke. “Toast first. Happy New Year to us, to four amazing, stupendous, and very hot women. Best pals ever.”

“Also smart and kick- ass.” Laurel raised her bottle of water.

“To pals and partners.”

“To us. Friendship and brains in four parts,” Mac added, “and the sheer coolness of the whole we’ve made with Vows.”

“And to 2009.” Parker lifted her coffee mug. “The amazing, stupendous, hot, smart, kick- ass best pals are going to have their best year ever.”

“Damn right.” Mac clinked her mug to the rest. “To Wedding Day, then, now, and always.”

“Then, now, and always,” Parker repeated. “And now. Timetable?”

“I’m on the bride,” Mac began, “from her arrival, switch to groom at his. Candids during dressing event, posed as applies. Formal portraits in and out. I’ll get the shots of the cake, the arrangements now, do my setup. All family and wedding party shots separate prior to the ceremony. Post- ceremony I should only need forty- five minutes for the family shots, full wedding party, and the bride and groom.”

“Floral dressing in bride and groom suites complete by three. Floral dressing in foyer, Parlor, staircase, Grand Hall, and Ballroom by five.” Parker glanced at Emma.

“We’ll be done.”

“Videographer arrives at five thirty. Guest arrivals from five thirty to six. Wedding musicians—string quartet—to begin at five forty. The band will be set up in the Ballroom by six thirty.

MOG, attended by son, escorted at five fifty, MOB, escorted by son- in- law, directly after. Groom and groomsmen in place at six.” Parker read off the schedule. “FOB, bride, and party in place at six. Descent and pro cession. Ceremony duration twentythree minutes, recession, family moments. Guests escorted to Grand Hall at six twenty- five.”

“Bar opens,” Laurel said, “music, passed food.”

“Six twenty- five to seven ten, photographs. Announcement of family, wedding party, and the new Mr. and Mrs. seven fifteen.”

“Dinner, toasts,” Emma continued. “We’ve got it, Parks.”

“I want to make sure we move to the Ballroom and have the first dance by eight fifteen,” Parker continued. “The bride especially wants her grandmother there for the first dance, and after the father- daughter, mother- son dance, for her father and his mother to dance. She’s ninety, and may fade early. If we can have the cake cutting at nine thirty, the grandmother should make that, too.”

“She’s a sweetheart,” Mac put in. “I got some nice shots of her and Alison at the rehearsal. I’ve got it in my notes to get some of them today. Personally, I think she’ll stay for the whole deal.” “I hope she does. Cake and desserts served while dancing continues. Bouquet toss at ten fifteen.”

“Tossing bouquet is set,” Emma added.

“Garter toss, dancing continues. Last dance at ten fifty, bubble blowing, bride and groom depart. Event end, eleven.” Parker checked her watch again. “Let’s get it done. Emma and Laurel need to change. Everyone remember their headsets.”

Parker’s phone vibrated, and she glanced at the readout. “MOB. Again. Fourth call this morning.”

“Have fun with that,” Mac said and escaped.

She scouted room by room, staying out of the way of Emma and her crew as they swarmed over the house with flowers, ribbons, voile. She took shots of Laurel’s cake, Emma’s arrangements, framed others in her head.

It was a routine she never allowed to become routine. She knew once it became rote, she’d miss shots, opportunities, bog down on fresh angles and ideas. And whenever she felt herself dulling, she thought of a blue butterfly landing on a dandelion. The air smelled of roses and lilies and rang with voices and footfalls. Light streamed through the tall windows in lovely beams and shafts, and glittered on the gold and silver ribbons.

“Headset, Mac!” Parker rushed down the main staircase.

“The bride’s arriving.”

As Parker hurried down to meet the bride, Mac jogged up.

She swung out on the front terrace, ignoring the cold as the white limo sailed down the drive. As it eased to a stop she shifted her angle, set, and waited.

Maid of honor, mother of the bride. “Move, move, just a little,” she muttered. Alison stepped out. The bride wore jeans, Uggs, a battered suede jacket and a bright red scarf. Mac zoomed in, changed stops. “Hey! Alison!”

The bride looked up. Surprise turned to amused delight, and to Mac’s plea sure, Alison threw up both arms, tossed back her head, and laughed.

And there, Mac thought as she caught the moment, was the beginning of the journey.

Within ten minutes, the Bride’s Suite—once Parker’s own bedroom—bustled with people and confusion. Two hairdressers plied their tools and talents, curling, straightening, styling, while others wielded paints and pots.

Utterly female, Mac thought as she moved through the room unobtrusively, the scents, the motions, the sounds. The bride remained the focus—no nerves on this one, Mac determined. Alison was confident, beaming, and currently chattering like a magpie.

The MOB, however, was a different story.

“But you have such beautiful hair! Don’t you think you should leave it down? At least some of it. Maybe—”

“An updo suits the headdress better. Relax, Mom.”

“It’s too warm in here. I think it’s too warm in here. And Mandy should take a quick nap. She’s going to act up, I just know it.”

“She’ll be fine.” Alison glanced toward the flower girl.

“I really think—”

“Ladies!” Parker wheeled in a cart of champagne, with a pretty fruit and cheese tray. “The men are on their way. Alison, your hair’s gorgeous. Absolutely regal.” She poured a flute, offered it to the bride.

“I really don’t think she should drink before the ceremony. She barely ate today, and—”

“Oh, Mrs. McFearson, I’m so glad you’re dressed and ready. You look fabulous. If I could just steal you for a few minutes? I’d love for you to take a look at the Drawing Room before the ceremony. We want to make sure it’s perfect, don’t we? I’ll have her back in no time.” Parker pushed champagne into the MOB’s hand, and steered her out of the room.

Alison said, “Whew!” and laughed.

For the next hour, Mac split herself between the bride’s and groom’s suites. Between perfume and tulle, cuff links and cummerbunds. She eased back into the bride’s domain, circled around the attendants as they dressed and helped one another dress. And found Alison alone, standing in front of her wedding dress. It was all there, Mac thought as she quietly framed the shot.

The wonder, the joy—with just that tiny tug of sorrow. She snapped the image as Alison reached out to brush her fingers over the sparkle of the bodice.

Decisive moment, Mac knew, when everything the woman felt reflected on her face.

Then it passed, and Alison glanced over.

“I didn’t expect to feel this way. I’m so happy. I’m so in love with Rod, so ready to marry him. But there’s this little clutch right here.” She rubbed her fingers just above her heart. “It’s not nerves.”

“Sadness. Just a touch. One phase of your life ends today.

You’re allowed to be sad to say good- bye. I know what you need. Wait here.”

A moment later, Mac led Alison’s grandmother over. And once again stepped back.

Youth and age, she thought. Beginnings and endings, connections and constancy. And, love.

She snapped the embrace, but that wasn’t it. She snapped the glitter of tears, and still, no. Then Alison lowered her forehead to her grandmother’s, and even as her lips curved, a single tear slid down her cheek while the dress glowed and glittered behind them.

Perfect. The blue butterfly.

She took candids of the ritual while the bride dressed, then the formal portraits with exquisite natural light. As she’d expected, Alison was game to brave the cold on the terrace.

And Mac ignored Parker’s voice through her headset as she rushed to the Groom’s Suite to repeat the process with Rod.

She passed Parker in the hallway as she strode back to the bride. “I need the groom and party downstairs, Mac. We’re running two minutes behind.”

“Oh my God!” Mac said in mock horror and ducked into the Bride’s Suite.

“Guests are seated,” Parker announced in her ear moments later. “Groom and groomsmen taking position. Emma, gather the bridal party.”

“On it.”

Mac slipped out to take her stand at the bottom of the stairs as Emma organized the bridesmaids.

“Party ready. Cue the music.”

“Cuing music,” Parker said, “start the procession.”

The flower girl would clearly be fine without the nap, Mac decided as the child nearly danced her way down the staircase.

She paused like a vet at Laurel’s signal, then continued at a dignified pace in her fairy dress across the foyer, into the enormous parlor, and down the aisle formed by the chairs.

The attendants followed, shimmering silver, and at last, the maid of honor in gold.

Mac crouched to aim up as the bride and her father stood at the top of the stairs, holding hands. As the bride’s music swelled, he lifted his daughter’s hand to his lips, then to his cheek.

Even as she took the shot, Mac’s eyes stung.

Where was her own father? she wondered. Jamaica? Switzerland? Cairo?

She pushed the thought and the ache that came with it aside, and did her job.

Using Emma’s candlelight, she captured joy and tears. The memories. And stayed invisible and separate.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1002 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2010

    highway robbery

    I think it's pretty low that you can buy the paperback for $3 cheaper than the e-book. I love my nook but i'm starting to wonder if im getting ripped-off. Will not read these books for that reason!

    32 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2010

    really???

    Why would the ebook be higher than the paperback. Based solely on that fact, I certainly wouldn't start this series.

    20 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2010

    Nook Price TOOOO Much

    How sad, I own a Nook and bought the paperback because of the price. This needs to be changed.

    16 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Very good book. one of the better Nora roberts reads I enjoyed

    Very good book. one of the better Nora roberts reads I enjoyed

    13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    My First Nora Roberts' book was amazing

    I have read tons of different books but never a Nora Roberts book...but this was a good book. I took it on my beach vacation and it took me 2 days to finish and i didnt want to put it down. I cant wait til December to get the next part of the series.

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    deep relationship drama

    Mac, Parker, Emma and Laurel have been friends forever so it is not a shocker that these buddies formed a business together; nor that their company Vows provides wedding and event planning, as they used to play at bride and groom as kids. When Parker's parents died, she renovated the house so her friends could comfortably move in with her as well as be on site at all times for the business.

    During the planning of a wedding, Mac (short for Mackenzie) runs into classmate Carter Maguire; he had a crush on her back in their school days. Mac fears relationships ever since her father abandoned his family to marry someone else and her mother's marriages turned her trepidation into a phobia. While Carter courts her thinking long term, she prefers a short fling. Meanwhile Mac's mother Linda makes a zillion selfish demands on her, but that does not disturb Mac as much as her feelings for Carter do.

    The first book in the Bride Quartet is a deep contemporary tale that contains the profundity expected of a Nora Roberts story. Mac is still hurt by her mother, but hides from understanding what is happening because she is expected to love her mom right or wrong. Carter has the patience of a saint as he tries to be there for his Mac and demonstrate love does not mean abuse. Ms. Roberts provides a deep relationship drama starring a wedding photographer caught on the one hand in a dysfunctional relationahip with her mom and if she reaches out with the other hand a warm caring sharing with her beloved.

    Harriet Klausner

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 13, 2009

    Different from her other series, and in a not-so-good way

    In the romantic genre, I pretty much exclusively read Nora Roberts books, as I have never found another author with the same feminist, creative female and male characters and story-lines that involve single 20- and 30- somethings in large family situations. My absolutely favorite series was the Chesapeake Bay series, with the four adopted Quinn brothers - the characters had difficult pasts, a challenging present and a very menacing villain to sort through and they did so with admirable character, while going through the usual romantic-novel-plot-points. I have also enjoyed Nora's other series with magical elements to them as the paranormal world is interesting in its own way.

    What I didn't care that much for, is the wedding planning world. The four women are bound together by their history playing together as kids - in one too many make-believe weddings. The women grow up (so to speak), and begin organizing real weddings but with the same kiddie-style drama and wedding-speak - the MOB, MOG, BM and what not. Are we in high school? Evidently not. But we seem to have emotional breakdowns that are dealt with using profane yelling, denial, dramatics and chocolate, in that order. The men come and go on the periphery, but the meat of the matter is the wedding, not the relationship.

    And then we have several cliched wedding scenarios that are dealt with as if the city is on attack. I understand that in wedding planning, these situations may seem as critical as anywhere else. But we are not pulled all the way into this world, so we end up seeing these women dealing with made-up crises in a superficial manner.

    I am quite disappointed that this book does not have the same bite as her other series, and I dread having to read three more books in the same vein. Looks like I might have to shop for another author until this series runs its course by the end of 2010.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2009

    Visions in White

    I was disappointed in this new book by Nora Roberts. I was bored from the very beginning but decided to plow through because I normally enjoy her books. Sadly, for me, it just stayed so-so throughout the book. I could of put it down and totally forgotten about it if I chose to.

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Eagerly awaiting the next in the Quartet Series

    I have been a Nora Robert's reader for many years. She is my go-to author for escapism and romance. I read this book in less than two weekend evenings. It was not particularly original although I enjoyed the characters and found it romantic (the characters are wedding planners). Reading this book was a good escape on a hot, humid weekend in NYC with ice tea in hand and the air-conditioner on cool. After a stress-laden work week, it provided exactly what I needed. Thanks again Nora Roberts.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    Great Summer Reading!

    I enjoyed Visions in White. It was romantic and sweet. Can't wait for the rest of the series. It was my vacation book.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Nook price too high

    An ebook should not cost this much...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2010

    my first nora book

    i read this book mostly because of the cover, and in hopes that my now husband would get a clue and propose already! i found this book to be ok. i'm not a big fan of reading. i've only become a "reader" the past few years in hopes to not get alhimerz like my grandmother. i find most books have that "slow" period in the first few chapters that describe the characters and what not, that's what this book is. i wasn't planning on buying the second book, but my husband saw it, remembered i read the first, and bought it one day when i was sick. i'm glad he did I LOVED IT!!! i just got done with the third, and am impatiently waiting to see how they end!! if you can bare through this one the other two, so far, are well worth it!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2009

    Fabulous romance!

    This book is another winner by Nora Roberts! The heroine and the hero were terrific and the whole book was fabulous. Their relationship was believable and enjoyable to read. I also loved the interaction among the four friends who owned the bridal business. Can't wait to read the next book in the series!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 19, 2009

    Vision in White

    I wasn't sure I would like it but I am glad I read it.
    I love Nora Roberts and she didn't disappoint.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Romance!

    I read this book in one day! I have always enjoyed reading Nora Roberts, this was definitely a true romance. No paranormal and no suspense but still great!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Takes time!

    This was my first time reading a book by Nora Roberts, i read her book because of all the raving reviews. This book took some getting used to because of her writing style i felt it very hard to understand which character was speaking and when, it is very easy to get lost in this book in the beginning. Also there are a lot of characters so try to understand their personalities or else the book wont be as good. The ending was too quick i had to read it twice because it came so fast. Other than that the book was not an escape but it was a good read to pass the time by.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    It's just fun

    It's a book about four best friends who are living their dreams. They are also working their tails off in a creative business venture that would be my worst nightmare. Breezed through Mac and Emma's stories. Looking forward to the last two. Hurry. Please.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2010

    Plot disjointed. Nora Roberts disappoints

    I have read Nora Roberts for a long time and was terribly disappointed with this book. The plot was horribly disjointed and seemed like a patchwork of plots that were hurriedly sewn together with minimal attention to pace and flow.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Must Read Nora Roberts Classic

    Nora Roberts continues to excell in everything she writes. I have always loved her "family" series and with the Bride Quartet Series she redifines the word. Mac Elliot is the girl all of us can see a little of ourselves as. Not quite as cute, sweet or built like the others but still alot to love. Speaking of love, Carter McQuire as the man we all love with his sexy understated bubbling professor person. The sparks that fly between these two are even hotter than Mac's red hair. What a book!Five Stars! A must read for all Nora fans and all this series will add many, many new fans.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Good feminist/Romance Novel

    This Novel is a good well clean book. There is Little foul Language and sex. I will have to say it can be a Book Club/Library book due to its Feminist/Romantic charector ladie/s who own there own partner business and are work driven in a fast all seasons business industries. You can say there would be no time for Romance. They hardly get time to go out and enjoy a night on the town. Even with the main charecter finding Romance. Mac goes to dinner and tangles in the sheet but right after the deed she has to leave due to work. During this she is finding she is attracted to this man but between work and a disfunctional mother who feels her successful daughter should owe her and pay her way.....typical mother who puts guilt and doesnt let up on her daughter to were Mac gives in but later with the help of friends they let her see the lite of putting your foot down. There is a good support of friends and the male charecter who romances her.
    To me this is a good book club book. This give readers some thing to discuss with real life situations all around.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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