A year’s worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed.
In a moment of total panic, Brendan left Alyssa at the altar. What will it take for him to win her back?
When Brendan Meyers became a “runaway groom,” Alyssa Pennington’s heart broke. But she’s returned the unopened gifts, exchanged the dress, and is ready to get on with her life…and forget Brendan.
The problem is, Brendan can’t forget. He can’t forget the love he and Alyssa shared and can’t forgive himself for what he put her through on their wedding day. He can never undo his actions, but at least he can try to win Alyssa’s forgiveness. And maybe, someday, another shot at her love.
Dalton Landreth was the only person not disappointed about that botched wedding. He had been eyeing Alyssa since high school—with his gorgeous, magnetic blue eyes—and when Brendan ran out the church doors, Dalton heard opportunity knocking.
Within months of being jilted at the altar, Alyssa finds herself being simultaneously wooed by the love of her life and the best-looking man she’s ever seen. Not bad for a small-town girl with a broken heart.
About the Author
Beth Wiseman is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Daughters of the Promise, Land of Canaan, and Amish Secrets series, as well as novellas that have been included in many bestselling collections such as An Amish Year and An Amish Garden. Visit her online at BethWiseman.com; Facebook: AuthorBethWiseman; Twitter: @BethWiseman.
Read an Excerpt
A July Bride
A Year of Weddings Novella
By Beth Wiseman
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2014 Beth Wiseman
All rights reserved.
Alyssa lifted her wedding dress onto the counter and handed the hanger to Loretta Klatt, swallowing back the lump in her throat.
"Hon, are you sure 'bout this? You love this dress. You've been eyeing it for years, and it fits you like a dream. Sure you don't want to keep it, just in case?" Loretta draped the dress over one arm and sighed as she glanced up at the wall. Hundreds of photos hung there, all brides that Loretta had dressed and sent down the aisle in the forty years she'd owned the shop. Alyssa had assumed her own bridal photo would be hanging there by now.
"No, thank you." She nodded to make it definite. "It's been two months. I'm not getting married. Not to Brendan anyway. Maybe never." She pulled her eyes from Loretta's and hung her head for a few moments before she looked back up to see Loretta hanging Alyssa's beautiful dress on a rack behind her. She blinked a few times, resolved that there would be no more tears. She took a deep breath and forced a smile. "Thank you, Loretta. For taking the dress back."
Loretta stuffed her hands into the pockets of her jeans, her plain white button-up shirt straining against a full bosom. For someone who made a living dressing people in wedding attire, Loretta was not exactly a walking advertisement for her business. Her long gray hair hung to her waist, and her short cropped bangs were cut high above gray eyebrows.
"I'm just so sorry about what happened. I've seen my share of couples, believe you me, and I really thought you and Brendan were the real thing. If ever a man was crazy about a girl ..." Loretta shook her head and frowned, bringing together a road map of wrinkles.
Alyssa wasn't sure how much more pity she could swim in. She was drowning in it. Forcing a smile—again—she said, "Evidently not." She gave a quick wave before she walked out of the shop. As the bell on the door clinked against the glass, she was reminded how many times she'd been in and out of Loretta's store for fittings, to choose bridesmaid dresses, or just to chat with Loretta about her wedding.
Her wedding to Brendan Myers. The only man she'd ever loved. But now hated.
* * *
Brendan counted out the last of three hundred dollars to Rudy Schmutz.
Rudy shook his head. "I'll take your money, but I can't promise it'll do any good." He stuffed the bills into one back pocket and pulled a can of chewing tobacco from the other. He put a pinch between his cheek and gum. "She ain't gonna get back with you, fella. You humiliated that girl in front of the whole town."
"I'm not giving up. Ever." Brendan looked up at the blue sky above, imagining the banner trailing behind Randy's crop duster and the look of surprise and wonder on Alyssa's face. "Now remember what I said. You gotta fly over Monument Hill at two o'clock next Saturday. That's when they start the reenactment. Alyssa will be there for sure. Her dad makes sure the family goes to that stuff."
Rudy shrugged his broad, bony shoulders. "Whatever you say." He spit out a brown stream, then raised his bushy brown eyebrows. The guy was about fifty, but he looked more like eighty to Brendan. His face was weathered, he walked with a limp—supposedly from falling off a bull—and he was always scowling. But he was the only guy with a Pawnee crop duster who was willing to take the job at a price Brendan could semiafford.
Brendan had gotten back the deposit he'd put down on a small house for him and Alyssa, but he'd given it to his parents on top of the rent he already paid them. At the time, that had seemed like the right thing to do, especially since his mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. But based on the amount of booze in the house, he didn't think the extra money was going toward his mother's health care. He'd already started putting money away for another deposit. Rentals in small towns didn't come along often, but he wanted to be ready when one did. He really needed his own place. Another reason he shouldn't be spending money on stuff like banners.
Not that that would stop him.
"I have to get back to work before Lenny gets back from the Lions Club meeting." His rancher boss was a great guy, but Lenny expected a full day's work for a fair wage, and Brendan had always given Lenny a hundred percent. It wasn't just a matter of being a good employee. Brendan loved the work, especially tending to the horses.
Rudy chuckled as he limped back to his truck. "Shoulda just married the girl when you had the chance."
Brendan pushed back the rim of his Stetson, a Christmas gift from Alyssa. "I know that, Rudy. And I aim to get her back before it's too late."
* * *
Alyssa found Sherry at the back of the café in the booth where they always sat. Her blond hair was braided into pigtails, which only made her chubby cheeks look even rounder. She waved and then stood awkwardly to greet Alyssa with a hug.
"Are you okay?" Sherry eased herself back against the bench seat and folded her hands across her enlarged belly. "That couldn't have been easy, returning the dress." Sherry still had another few weeks until her due date, but Alyssa's lifelong friend looked like she was about to pop any minute.
"It went pretty much like I expected. Loretta tried to talk me out of it, but she took the dress back in the end. That dream is over. Every wedding gift has been returned, every last wedding detail undone. That was the last item on the list. Time to move on." Alyssa slid into the seat and put her purse beside her. "What about you? You look miserable." She picked up one of the paper menus that was already on the table. Not that she needed it. She always ordered the same thing—a tuna melt with a side of fruit.
sherry sighed. "All that stuff they say about glowing during pregnancy ... well, it's not true. The first four months, I threw up. And the last four, I've spent unable to see my toes and with a waddle that would make any penguin proud."
Alyssa grinned. She knew lunch with her former matron of honor would be the perfect thing to do after returning her wedding dress. "Well, you don't have much longer. Another few weeks and we'll be holding Monroe Junior."
"You do realize how much I love my husband, don't you? Why else would I let that man name our firstborn Monroe?" She shook her head. "I'm afraid li'l Monroe Modenstein is going to be teased his entire life."
"I doubt it. He'll probably be a big boy like his daddy. No one will pick on him." Everyone in town loved Sherry's husband. He was six foot seven and a tad heavy, a size that had served him well on the football field all through high school. He was a big old teddy bear, though, and he adored Sherry, who barely reached five foot tall.
"I'll have a double cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake." Sherry spieled off her order to the waitress. From the time she'd found out she was pregnant, Sherry had taken that as the go-ahead to indulge in all the dietary luxuries she'd never allowed herself before. "Oh, and one of those brownie parfaits."
Alyssa slapped her menu closed. "I'll have the same."
Sherry's eyes widened. "You're not pregnant too, are you?" She giggled. Alyssa's best friend knew good and well that Alyssa and Brendan had never done the act.
"It's time for some changes." Alyssa sat taller. "I'll start slow with a new lunch selection."
"So tell me," Sherry said as she shifted her weight in the seat. "What has Brendan done lately to win you back?"
Alyssa slouched into her seat. "Can't we talk about baby clothes or diaper choices ... or anything besides Brendan?"
Sherry quickly covered her mouth, then burped. "Good grief. I've got more gas than a flatulent linebacker."
Alyssa laughed. "Or we can talk about your gastric issues."
"Ugh. Not a good topic. So are you going to tell me or not? You know I live to hear about Brendan's shenanigans."
Sometimes Alyssa wished she could leave La Grange, even if it was just for a while. She feared she would always be the girl who got dumped at the altar, and Brendan was only keeping the embarrassing story alive by trying to woo her back. "He's making a fool of himself," she finally said. "My dad went and talked to him last week and told him to quit sending things to the house."
Sherry smiled. "I think it's romantic, all those flowers he keeps sending."
"Last week he sent me a kitten with a note that said, 'You make my heart purr.' Can you imagine?"
Sherry laughed out loud. "He's so goofy."
Alyssa sighed. It was one of the things she'd loved about Brendan. "Well, he needs to stop, and that's what Dad went to tell him. To leave me alone." She paused. "What kills me is that he doesn't have the money to spend on things like that. Especially now that his mom is sick."
"Aw, poor guy. He's made it clear how much he regrets what he did. Can't you find it in your heart to forgive him and give it another shot?"
Alyssa shook her head. "I've forgiven him already. But I just can't trust him." She drew in a big gulp of air, then let it out slowly. "I just want to get on with my life, and he's making that impossible."
"Well, I think you're making a mistake. Monroe said that all the boys were ribbing him at the bachelor party, joking about the end of the good life and all that." She lifted one eyebrow. "Not my Monroe, of course, but the others. And you know how those boys get when they're together sometimes. Brendan was probably already nervous to be stepping up to the plate, but I'm sure those guys were partly responsible for running him off the field. And then there's Brendan's family situation."
Alyssa was well aware of Brendan's dysfunctional family. The whole town was. She and Sherry were quiet as the waitress set their food down. Then Alyssa said, "None of that is reason enough for leaving the woman you love at the altar. I don't care how bad the guys were trash talking about marriage. And I know how afraid Brendan was of turning out like his parents. We'd talked about that."
"I just think you're hurting yourself by not giving him another chance." Sherry took a giant bite of her burger and hadn't quite finished chewing when she added, "He's never gonna give up."
"Well, he's going to have to."
Alyssa was finally able to veer the conversation in another direction, and Sherry spent the latter part of their lunch talking about her upcoming labor and delivery. "Monroe knows I have a high tolerance for pain. I don't expect I'll be needing all those drugs they offer up."
"Maybe have them on standby. You know, just in case." Alyssa dabbed at her mouth with the napkin as she recalled Sherry's trip to the dentist last year. Alyssa had taken her to get a tooth extracted, and she wasn't so sure about Sherry's high tolerance for pain.
Alyssa let the last of the brownie parfait settle against her palate, savoring it, before they split the bill.
When they got outside, Alyssa hugged her friend. "I knew you would cheer me up, Sherry. Thanks for meeting me for lunch."
Sherry chuckled. "That's what I do, you know. I eat. All the time." She gave a quick wave and started walking toward the bank where she worked. Alyssa took off in the other direction, and she was almost to her car when someone called out her name. She turned around, brought a hand to her forehead to shield her eyes from the sun, and peered at the gorgeous man approaching her from down the block.
"Hey, Dalton," she said. "If you're looking for my brother, he's with Dad at the fairgrounds."
Dalton sauntered up to her. Her brother's friend was possibly the best-looking man she'd ever laid eyes on, and Alyssa had spent her first seventeen years on earth adoring him from afar. Until Brendan. Even now, the man could make her pulse quicken. He'd always been way out of her league, though. In high school he'd dated every cheerleader until he'd finally latched on to Pamela Herring. Gorgeous Pamela herring. They'd even kept dating when Pam went away to school in Houston.
But gorgeous Pamela, apparently, had dumped Dalton sometime in the spring—and by text message. Alyssa remembered thinking that was really cold. And who would dump Dalton Landreth in the first place?
"I wasn't looking for Alex." Dalton smiled. "But I'm glad I ran into you. I was going to call you."
"I was wondering if you'd like to go out with me next Saturday."
"Uh, I ... uh ..." Despite everything with Brendan, it felt like a betrayal to even consider a date with another man.
"Just dinner." Dalton took a step closer. "We can see how it goes. I know we're both coming out of something, but ..." He shrugged. "I'd really like to take you out."
Alyssa wanted to say yes. And that was confusing. Shouldn't she still be mourning the demise of her relationship with Brendan? But then she remembered. "Oh, I can't. The whole family promised my dad we'd go to Monument Hill next Saturday for Texas Heroes Day. You know, they're having the battle reenactment, and I think the county judge will be there, and the high school band, and ..." She paused. "It goes on all weekend, but I think we're leaving the house around one on Saturday. It usually runs into the early evening. Anyway, I can't miss it."
"Well, maybe we could go there together and get dinner afterward."
Hmm. Here they were, both single for the first time since junior high. She thought for a few moments. Why not?
"Yes. I'd like that," she said. Maybe Dalton Landreth was exactly what she needed to put Brendan out of her mind. Maybe even for good.CHAPTER 2
Dalton walked along the sidewalk of the town square toward the bank. Twice he'd turned back to sneak another look at Alyssa before she got into her car. Finally, a real date with her. so many times he'd had dinner with Alex, Alyssa, and their parents, and in the past few years it had been torture to watch Alyssa leave to go meet Brendan Myers later in the evening.
Everyone had been devastated the day Brendan left Alyssa at the altar. Everyone but Dalton. And he planned to give it everything he had to win her over.
He glanced at his watch and realized he only had ten minutes before the bank closed. He picked up his pace and hurried into the building, glad to see that sherry was working today. He placed his paycheck and deposit slip on the counter and wondered if sherry knew about the dab of ketchup on her chin. He smiled as he touched his own chin. "You've got, uh ..."
She quickly swiped at the ketchup with her hand. "Well, that's what I get for inhaling my food." she logged Dalton's deposit and handed him the receipt. "I don't usually take a lunch on Saturdays since we close at one, but this small person inside of me was hungry." She pointed to her tummy and smiled. "So I grabbed a quick bite with Alyssa."
"How's she doing?" Dalton knew Sherry was Alyssa's best friend. "Do you think she's over Brendan yet?"
Sherry was quiet as she finished the transaction, then said, "She'll never be over Brendan. I don't care what she says." She shook her head as she handed him a receipt. "And Brendan is certainly going to extremes to try to win her back."
Dalton had already heard about Brendan's tactics to win Alyssa back. He was a good guy, but he'd had his chance. "Well, I'm going to hope you're wrong about her never being over the guy, because I'm taking her to Monument Hill next Saturday and then to dinner afterwards."
Sherry's eyes widened. "Really? She didn't mention that at lunch."
"I just asked. And she said yes."
"Huh. I didn't know you had an interest in Alyssa."
Dalton smiled. "I've always had an interest in Alyssa. The timing just hasn't ever been right."
Sherry grunted. "I'm not sure the timing is good right now either." She smiled. "Sorry to tell you that, Dalton, but I don't want you to get your hopes up where Alyssa is concerned."
"It's just one date. No big deal." He tried to sound casual, even though his hopes were definitely up. It was unforgivable what Brendan had done to Alyssa, and Dalton wanted to help her get over it. He grinned at Sherry. "Aren't you due like any day now?"
Sherry scrunched her face into a scowl. "Dalton Landreth, I know I'm huge, but that is not something a lady wants to hear. I have a few more weeks."
Excerpted from A July Bride by Beth Wiseman. Copyright © 2014 Beth Wiseman. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I like this Wedding series. I liked this story. Beth picked a hard story line with this one. Alyssa wanted a July wedding. I can say I sympathize with poor Brendan. A church full of people would have sent me running too. He tries so hard to get her back. Then there is Dalton who has wanted Alyssa forever but didn't go for her until now. This whole story is a win/win and lose/lose fiasco. Who will win in the end? I won't tell so you will have to read the story. I have this book for an honest review for NetGalley.
"A July Bride," by Beth Wiseman is a simple, down home, small town, God's will, no sex before marriage type of romance novella. It's a good story, if that type of writing is what appeals to you.
I hate writing "less than positive" reviews, but sadly A July Bride was my least favorite of the Year of Weddings series. Alyssa is left at the altar, but then Brendan (the jilting groom) realizes the terrible mistake he made and begins frantically trying to win her back. I felt sorry for Alyssa and the humiliation she suffered. But beyond that, I didn't experience much emotion while reading this novella. I wished the author had given me a bit ... more ... related to the reasons behind the sudden breakup. It also felt odd for another guy to come on the scene and for Alyssa to be caught between the two guys. I had a hard time establishing the ages of the characters. Many of the actions and conversations gave the story more of a middle school or young high school feeling, but since the characters were discussing marriage, I assume they were at least college-aged. Overall, I just wasn't impressed with this story. So many of the other books in this series have been fantastic, but I would probably skip over this one. [2 stars] I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.
A July Bride by Beth Wiseman Published by Zondervan A July Bride is a sweet short. Few of the previous books to this novella had been pretty lengthy, but this was a “real” novella. I would even go as far to say the book was somewhat cookie-cuter. A July Bride had a sweet, realistic, problematic, brain scrambler for me. It held it’s love – dovey qualities and yet the problem still stood- As the character in denial. The plot over all was not bad, but the cookie cutter way the story was written (ex: July 2013 to Dec 2013 to July 2014) had left a lot to be desired in the plot and character development. On the other hand this book gives inspiration like no other. It actually hits home with many people I believe. The fact that we are always trying to discern what God wants for our lives instead of telling ourselves we want what we are comfortable with; which isn’t what God wants for us. This challenged me to do an Online Bible Study(OBS) in September called The Best Yes hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries. Lisa Terkeurst president of P31 Ministries is the author and she is full of many coincidental things I would catch myself doing and she is really with herself and God, which makes for an amazing book to do Bible Study with. I recommend this novel and the Bible Study. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” B’Sweet-Stay Sweet, ¿ Annie
Of the eight novellas that I have read in the A Year of Weddings series, this one rates up towards the top. From the opening scene of Alyssa and Brendan's dream wedding I knew something had to go wrong. After all what would the rest of the story be about? I was expecting Alyssa to be the one to get cold feet, but instead it was Brendan. Poor Brendan, almost immediately he realized that he had made a horrible mistake. He loved Alyssa more than anyone and really did want to spend the rest of his life with her. But it seems as if every gesture he makes just rubs salt in the wound instead of being a healing balm. Even Alyssa's father has told Brendan to quit. Then Brendan's worst nightmare happens. Dalton turns up and begins to pursue Alyssa. Alyssa has always had a secret crush on Dalton so it seems like a great choice. As secrets unfold and become known a distinct story-line of redemption and forgiveness emerges. I really enjoyed how everything came together with not only the main characters but the supporting ones as well. My only complaint is that I would have liked this to be a full length novel rather than a novella. There was so much to this tale that I think it would have been nice for Beth to have the time to develop the characters more and to expound on the themes of overcoming and forgiveness. Quite frankly I think I would say this about any novella that Beth Wiseman would write. I just like her stories and this one came to a conclusion much too soon. I received an ebook to facilitate my review.
Alyssa is jilted right at the alter by her one true love. Within days, he realizes his mistake and goes to great lengths and cost to try and win her back. I can understand the hurt and pain that she probably felt, but thought she was a little immature to treat Brendan the way that she did. The story suddenly shifts to a love triangle and I honestly wasn't sure which guy was going to win her heart. Secrets are uncovered--secrets which led to the breakup, but it still seems a little silly. The ending surprised me but I was hoping for more of a connection between the characters, more romance. I've really enjoyed this wedding series, but this one was a little more serious and not one of my favorites. I love the cover and I love the time of year, but most of the story seemed to take place in the wintertime and I wanted a fun July story. Content: talk of sex, waiting for marriage--vague references to some couples not waiting; talk of adultery and cheating, no details. Technically clean. *I received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
The only stories I've read by Beth Wiseman were in the form of Amish novellas, so this was a very different experience for me.There was a little I liked, and a lot I didn't like. t was heartfelt and sweet. I loved Brendan's pursuit of Alyssa. He knew he messed up, he confessed, and he did all he could to win her back. Sometimes his antics were hilarious. Alyssa was a borderline character for me. There were moments in the story that I really liked her and related, and there were moments I wanted to shake her! I DID NOT like her involvement with Dalton at all. It was obvious from the beginning that she shouldn't be with him, but she persisted anyway. For a Christian Fiction novella, this story references sexual thoughts quite a bit. One part of me liked the open and honestness of that because it made it more life like, and another part of me didn't like it. Overall, I did like the story, but it's not my favorite of the series.
This novella is well-written, but since the story takes place during the aftermath of the ruined wedding and recovery of Alyssa's heartbreak, there is a lot of angst and not much romance. We do eventually learn why Brendan panicked, but since Alyssa refuses to hear him out for so long I was left wondering for much of the time what his deal was. I would have been happier with more happiness in the story :) (Thank you to Zondervan Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
Alyssa Pennington has always dreamt of becoming a July Bride like her mother and grandmother before her, but her dreams walk out the door when Brendan Meyers deserts her on their wedding day. Brendan knows he messed up, deserting the love of his life at the alter is no way to confess his love, but spending every last penny he has isn’t working either. Brendan needs a way to show Alyssa that she can trust him and that he’ll never desert her again. Dalton Landreth is, quite possibly, the only person happy about how things have worked out. He’s been wanting to get his hands on Alyssa, his best friend’s little sister, for as long as he can remember. Alyssa will need to decide which man really is the one she can trust. Hott Review: In many ways A July Bride was much more realistic, to me. This is the first to talk about impurity and alcohol. Beth Wiseman managed to bring so many secular topics that Christian must deal with in their daily walk into this novella it was amazing. That she could do that without making it seemed rushed or undeveloped deserves an award! More… Author: Beth Wiseman Source: Zondervan via Netgalley Grade: A Ages: 18+ Steam: Adult – There are some adult references but nothing inappropraite. Setting: La Grange, Texas Series: A Year of Weddings, #8
This series has become one of my favorite so far this year. Even though I did rate this book 4 stars, I still enjoyed it quite a bit. It has been a great break from the “typical” erotica books that are out now. I have enjoyed the *cuteness* of each of these stories because they are extremely heartwarming and well planned out. With this book, I couldn’t help but hope that thing would work out between Alyssa and Brendan. There were some parts of the story that were very funny, and other parts that were extremely touching. I thought that the characters were all written very well. They were able to balance each other out, but still were strong enough on their own that I couldn’t help but connect to them. Overall, I have really enjoyed this series and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a break from the typical books these days and get back to some good down to earth romances. Reviewed by Crystal Marie for Crystal’s Many Reviewers *Copy provided for review*
A July Bride Beth Wiseman Book Summary: Can she forgive the man who left her at the altar? Alyssa Pennington dated Brendan Myers for three years before she accepted his proposal. For almost a year, Alyssa's friends and family helped her plan a lovely wedding to take place in the church she'd grown up in. It was the happiest day of her life when she walked down the aisle to be united with the man of her dreams. But when Brendan left her at the altar, Alyssa was consumed by humiliation, embarrassment, and a broken heart that wouldn't allow her to trust anyone. Especially Brendan. Brendan Myers knows he will spend the rest of his life regretting what he did to Alyssa, the only woman he's ever loved. Without her, his life is empty. In one fateful moment, he'd panicked, destroyed their future, and ruined everything. Now he plans to win her back. But winning back his bride might prove much more difficult than he can imagine. And even if he does get her to the altar again, will she think turnabout is fair play? Review: This is my favorite of the series so far. I really liked this book. I loved Alyssa, she was strong and yet wounded by Brendan. I thought it was well written and the story line was modern and realistic. Ethan was a great guy and yet his views of relationship were far different than mine. I loved Alex, Alyssa’s brother. He was protective without Alyssa knowing about it. Mr. & Mrs. Pennington were great. They wanted the best for their daughter sometimes without knowing what that should be. Alyssa’s best friend and her husband brought a believability to the story that was well written and made this novella packed with substances. It was a great sketch of life about the human condition as broken people in need of a savior. I would like to thank Net Galley and Zondervan for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.