Happy Ever After (Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet Series #4)

Happy Ever After (Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet Series #4)

by Nora Roberts

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Overview

Dreams are realized in this gorgeous french flap edition of the final novel in #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts's Bride Quartet.

As the public face of Vows wedding planning company, Parker Brown has an uncanny knack for fulfilling every bride's vision. She just can't see where her own life is headed. Mechanic Malcom Kavanaugh loves figuring out how things work, and Parker Brown—with her endless legs—is no exception. But as a good friend of Parker’s brother, he knows that moving from minor flirtation to major hook-up is a serious step.

No man has rattled Parker in a long time, but the motorcycle-riding, raven-haired Mal seems to have a knack for it. His passionate kisses always catch her off guard, much like her growing feelings for him. Parker’s business risks have always paid off, but now she’ll have to take the chance of a lifetime with her heart… 


Don't miss the other books in the Bride Quartet
Vision in White
Bed of Roses
Savor the Moment

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425236758
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/02/2010
Series: Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet Series , #4
Pages: 355
Sales rank: 59,062
Product dimensions: 6.74(w) x 11.80(h) x 0.97(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels. She is also the author of the bestselling In Death series written under the pen name J. D. Robb. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.

Hometown:

Keedysville, Maryland

Date of Birth:

1950

Place of Birth:

Silver Spring, Maryland

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

Grief came in waves, hard and choppy, buffeting and breaking the heart. Other days the waves were slow and swamping, threatening to drown the soul.

People—good, caring people—claimed time would heal. Parker hoped they were right, but as she stood on her bedroom terrace in the late-summer sun, months after the sudden, shocking deaths of her parents, those capricious waves continued to roll.

She had so much, she reminded herself. Her brother—and she didn't know if she'd have survived this grieving time without Del—had been a rock to cling to in that wide, wide ocean of shock and sorrow. Her friends Mac, Emma, Laurel, a part of her life, a part of her, since childhood. They'd been the glue mending and holding all the shattered pieces of her world. She had the constant, unshakable support of their longtime housekeeper, Mrs. Grady, her island of comfort.

She had her home. The beauty and elegance of the Brown Estate seemed deeper, sharper to her somehow, knowing she wouldn't see her parents strolling through the gardens. She'd never again run downstairs and find her mother laughing in the kitchen with Mrs. G, or hear her father wheeling a deal in his home office.

Instead of learning to ride those waves, she'd felt herself being swept deeper and deeper down into the dark.

Time, she'd determined, needed to be used and pushed and moved.

She thought—hoped—she'd found a way, not only to use that time, but to celebrate what her parents had given her, to unite those gifts with family and friendships.

To be productive, she mused as the first spicy scents of coming autumn stirred the air. The Browns worked. They built and they produced and they never, never sat back to laze on accomplishments.

Her parents would have expected her to do no less than those who'd come before her.

Her friends might think she'd lost her mind, but she'd researched, calculated, and outlined a solid business plan, a sturdy model. And with Del's help, a fair and reasonable legal contract.

Time to swim, she told herself.

She simply wouldn't sink.

She walked back into the bedroom, picked up the four thick packets she'd set on her dresser. One for each of them for the meeting—though she hadn't told her friends they were coming to a meeting.

She paused, took a moment to tie back her glossy brown hair in a tail, then simply stared into her own eyes, willing a spark to light in the deep blue.

She could make this work. No, no, they could make this work.

She just had to convince them first.

Downstairs, she found Mrs. Grady putting the finishing touches on the meal.

The sturdy woman turned from the stove, gave her a wink. "Ready?"

"Prepared anyway. I'm nervous. Is it silly to be nervous? They're my closest friends in the world."

"It's a big step you're looking to take, a big one you'll ask them to take. You'd be foolish if you weren't a bit nervous." She stepped over, took Parker's face in her hands. "My money's on you. Go on out. I've gone a little fancy, so you'll have hors d'oeuvres and wine on the terrace. My girls are all grown up."

She wanted to be, but God, there was a child inside her who wanted her mom and dad, the comfort, the love, the security.

Outside, she set the packets on a table, then crossed over to take the wine out of its cooler, pour herself a glass.

Then simply stood, holding the glass, looking out in the softening light over the gardens to the pretty little pond and the reflection of the willows mirrored on its surface.

"God! Do I want some of that."

Laurel bolted out, her sunny blond hair brutally short—a new look her friend already regretted. She hadn't changed out of her uniform from her position as dessert chef at an upscale local restaurant.

Her eyes, bright and blue, rolled as she poured her wine. "Who knew when I changed my schedule to make our Girl Night we'd get a last-minute lunch reservation for twenty? The kitchen was a madhouse all afternoon. Mrs. G's kitchen now…" She let out a huge groan as she dropped down to sit after hours on her feet. "It's an oasis of calm that smells like heaven. What's for dinner?"

"I didn't ask."

"Doesn't matter." Laurel waved it away. "But if Emma and Mac are late, I'm starting without them." She spotted the stack of packets. "What's all that?"

"Something that can't start without them. Laurel, do you want to go back to New York?"

Laurel eyed her over the rim of her glass. "Are you kicking me out?"

"I guess I want to know what you want. If you're satisfied with how things are. You moved back for me, after the accident, and—"

"I'm taking it a day at a time, and figure I'll figure it out. Right now, not having a plan's working for me. Okay?"

"Well…"

She broke off as Mac and Emma came out together, laughing.

Emma, she thought, so beautiful with her mass of hair curling madly, her dark, exotic eyes bright with fun. Mac, her bold red hair choppy in tufts, green eyes wickedly amused, lean and long in her jeans and black shirt.

"What's the joke?" Laurel demanded.

"Men." Mac set down the plates of brie en croute and spinach tartlets Mrs. Grady had shoved into her hands on the way through the kitchen. "The two of them who thought they could arm wrestle for Emma."

"It was kind of sweet," Emma insisted. "They were brothers and came into the shop for flowers for their mother's birthday. One thing led to the other."

"Guys come into the studio all the time." Mac popped a sugared red grape into her mouth from the bowl already on the table. "None of them ever arm wrestle each other for a date with me."

"Some things never change," Laurel said, raising her glass to Emma.

"Some things do," Parker spoke out. She had to start, had to move. "That's why I asked you all to come tonight."

Emma paused as she reached for the brie. "Is something wrong?"

"No. But I wanted to talk to you all, at once." Determined, Parker poured wine for Mac and Emma. "Let's sit down."

"Uh-oh," Mac warned.

"No uh-ohs," Parker insisted. "I want to say first, I love you all so much, and have forever. And will forever. We've shared so much, good and bad. And when things were at their worst, I knew you'd be there."

"We're all there for each other." Emma leaned over and laid a hand on Parker's. "That's what friends do."

"Yes, it is. I want you to know how much you mean to me, and want you to know that if any of you don't want to try what I'm about to propose, for any reason at all, it changes nothing between us."

She held up a hand before anyone could speak. "Let me start this way. Emma, you want your own florist business one day, right?"

"It's always been the dream. I mean I'm happy working in the shop, and the boss gives me a lot of leeway, but I hope, down the road, to have my own. But—"

"No buts yet. Mac, you've got too much talent, too much creativity to spend every day taking passport photos and posed kid shots."

"My talent knows no bounds," Mac said lightly, "but a girl's got to eat."

"You'd rather have your own photography studio."

"I'd rather have Justin Timberlake arm wrestling Ashton Kutcher for me, too—and it's just as likely."

"Laurel, you studied in New York and Paris with the aim of becoming a pastry chef."

"An international sensation of a pastry chef."

"And you've settled for working at the Willows."

She swallowed a bite of her spinach tart. "Well, hey—"

"Part of that settling was to be here for me after we lost Mom and Dad. I studied," Parker continued, "with the goal of starting my own business. I always had an idea of what it would be, but it seemed like a pipe dream. One I never shared with any of you. But over these last months, it's begun to feel more reachable, more right."

"For Christ's sake, Parker, what is it?" Laurel demanded.

"I want us to go into business together. The four of us, with each of us running our own end of it—according to our field of interest and expertise, while merging them together under one umbrella, so to speak."

"Go into business?" Emma echoed.

"You remember how we used to play Wedding Day? How we'd all take turns playing parts, and wearing costumes, planning the themes."

"I liked marrying Harold best." Mac smiled over the memory of the long-departed Brown family dog. "He was so handsome and loyal."

"We could do it for real, make a business out of Wedding Day."

"Providing costumes and cupcakes, and very patient dogs for little girls?" Laurel suggested.

"No, by providing a unique and amazing venue—this house, these grounds; spectacular cakes and pastries; heartbreaking bouquets and flowers; beautiful, creative photographs. And for my part—someone who'll oversee every detail to make a wedding, or other important event, the most perfect day of the clients' lives."

She barely took a breath. "I already have countless contacts through my parents. Caterers, wine merchants, limo services, salons—everything. And what I don't have, I'll get. A full-service wedding and event business, the four of us as equal partners."

"A wedding business." Emma's eyes went dreamy. "It sounds wonderful, but how could we—"

"I have a business model. I have figures and charts and answers to legal questions if you've got them. Del helped me work it out."

"He's okay with it?" Laurel asked. "Delaney's okay with you turning the estate, your home, into a business?"

"He's completely behind me on this. And his friend Jack's willing to help by redesigning the pool house into a photographer's studio, with living quarters above it, and the guest house into a flower shop with an apartment. We can turn the auxiliary kitchen here into your work space, Laurel."

"We'd live here, on the estate?"

"You'd have that option," Parker told Mac. "It's going to be a lot of work, and it would be more efficient for all of us to be onsite. I'll show you the figures, the model, the projection charts, the works. But there's no point if any of you just don't like the basic concept. And if you don't, well, I'll try to talk you into it," Parker added with a laugh. "Then if you hate it, I'll let it go."

"The hell you will." Laurel scooped a hand through her short cap of hair. "How long have you been working this out?"

"Seriously? Actively? About three months. I had to talk to Del, and Mrs. G, because without their support, it would never fly. But I wanted to put it all together before springing it on you. It's business," Parker said. "It would be our business, so it needs to be formed that way from the ground up."

"Our business," Emma repeated. "Weddings. What's happier than a wedding?"

"Or crazier," Laurel put in.

"The four of us can handle crazy. Parks?" Mac's dimples winked as she held out a hand. "I'm so in."

"You can't commit until you've seen the model, the figures."

"Yes, I can," Mac corrected. "I want this."

"Me, too." Emma laid her hand on theirs.

Laurel took a breath, held it. Released. "I guess that makes it unanimous." And she put her hand on theirs. "We'll kick wedding ass."

CHAPTER ONE

Crazy Bride called at five twenty-eight a.m.

"I had a dream," she announced while Parker lay in the dark with her BlackBerry.

"A dream?"

"An amazing dream. So real, so urgent, so full of color and life! I'm sure it means something. I'm going to call my psychic but I wanted to talk it over with you, first."

"Okay." With the grace of experience, Parker reached over, turned her bedside lamp on low. "What was the dream about, Sabina?" she asked as she picked up the pad and pen beside the lamp.

"Alice in Wonderland."

"You dreamed about Alice in Wonderland?"

"Specifically the Mad Hatter's tea party."

"Disney or Tim Burton?"

"What?"

"Nothing." Parker shook back her hair, noted key words. "Go on."

"Well, there was music and a banquet of food. I was Alice, but I wore my wedding dress, and Chase looked absolutely amazing in a morning coat. The flowers, oh, they were spectacular. And all of them singing and dancing. Everyone was so happy, toasting us, clapping. Angelica was dressed as the Red Queen and playing a flute."

Parker noted down MOH for Angelica, the maid of honor, then continued to record other members of the wedding party. The best man as the White Rabbit, the mother of the groom as the Cheshire Cat, father of the bride, the March Hare.

She wondered what Sabina had eaten, drunk, or smoked before going to bed.

"Isn't it fascinating, Parker?"

"Absolutely." As had been the pattern of tea leaves that had determined Sabina's bridal colors, the tarot reading that had forecast her honeymoon destination, the numerology that had pointed to the only possible date for her wedding.

"I think maybe my subconscious and the fates are telling me I need to do an Alice theme for the wedding. With costumes."

Parker closed her eyes. While she'd have said—and would say now—that the Mad Hatter's Tea Party suited Sabina to the ground, the event was less than two weeks away. The decor, the flowers, the cake and desserts, the menu—the works—already chosen.

"Hmm," Parker said to give herself a moment to think. "That's an interesting idea."

"The dream—"

"Says to me," Parker interjected, "the celebrational, magical, fairy-tale atmosphere you've already chosen. It tells me you were absolutely right."

"Really?"

"Completely. It tells me you're excited and happy, and can't wait for your day. Remember, the Mad Hatter held his tea party every day. It's telling you that your life with Chase will be a daily celebration."

"Oh! Of course!"

"And, Sabina, when you stand in front of the looking glass in the Bride's Suite on your wedding day, you'll be looking at yourself with Alice's young, adventurous, happy heart."

Damn, I'm good, Parker thought as the crazy bride sighed.

"You're right, you're right. You're absolutely right. I'm so glad I called you. I knew you'd know."

"That's what we're here for. It's going to be a beautiful wedding, Sabina. Your perfect day."

After she hung up, Parker lay back a moment, but when she closed her eyes, the Mad Hatter's Tea Party—Disney version—ran manically in her head.

Resigned, she rose, crossed over to the French doors to the terrace of the room that had once been her parents'. She opened them to the morning air, took a deep breath of dawn as the sun took its first peek over the horizon.

The last stars winked out in a world perfectly, wonderfully still—like a breath held.

The upside of crazy brides and those of that ilk was wakefulness just before dawn when it seemed nothing and no one but she stirred, nothing and no one but she had this moment when night passed its torch to day, and the silvery light sheened to pearl that would shimmer—when that breath released—to pale, lustrous gold.

She left the doors open when she walked back into the bedroom. Taking a band from the hammered silver box on her dresser, she pulled her hair back into a tail. She shed her nightshirt for cropped yoga pants and a support tank, chose a pair of running shoes off the shelf in the casual section of her ruthlessly organized closet.

She hooked her BlackBerry to her waistband, plugged in her headphones, then headed out of her room toward her home gym.

She hit the lights, flipped on the news on the flat screen, listening with half an ear as she took a few moments to stretch.

She set the elliptical for her usual three-mile program.

Halfway through the first mile, she smiled.

God, she loved her work. Loved the crazy brides, the sentimental brides, the persnickety brides, even the monster brides.

She loved the details and demands, the hopes and dreams, the constant affirmation of love and commitment she helped to personalize for every couple.

Nobody, she determined, did it better than Vows.

What she, Mac, Emma, and Laurel had taken head-on one late summer evening was now everything and more than they'd imagined.

And now, she thought as her smile widened, they were planning weddings for Mac in December, Emma in April, Laurel in June.

Her friends were the brides now, and she couldn't wait to dig deeper into those fine details.

Mac and Carter—traditional with artistic twists. Emma and Jack—romance, romance, romance. Laurel and Del (God, her brother was marrying her best friend!)—elegant yet streamlined.

Oh, she had ideas.

She'd hit mile two when Laurel came in.

"Fairy lights. Acres and miles and rivers of tiny white fairy lights, all through the gardens, in the willows, on the arbors, the pergola."

Laurel blinked, yawned. "Huh?"

"Your wedding. Romantic, elegant, abundance without fuss."

"Huh." Laurel, her swing of blond hair clipped up, stepped on the machine next to Parker's. "I'm just getting used to being engaged."

"I know what you like. I've worked up a basic overview."

"Of course you have." But Laurel smiled. "Where are you?" She craned her head, scanned the readout on Parker's machine. "Shit! Who called and when?"

"Crazy Bride. Just shy of five thirty. She had a dream."

"If you tell me she dreamed a new design for the cake, I'm going to—"

"Not to worry. I fixed it."

"How could I have doubted you?" She eased through her warm-up, then kicked in. "Del's going to put his house on the market."

"What? When?"

"Well, after he talks to you about it, but I'm here, you're here, so I'm talking to you first. We talked about it last night. He'll be back from Chicago tonight, by the way. So… he'd move back in here, if that's okay with you."

"First, it's his house as much as mine. Second, you're staying." Her eyes stung, shined. "You're staying," Parker repeated. "I didn't want to push, and I know Del's got a great house, but—Oh God, Laurel, I didn't want you to move out. Now you won't."

"I love him so much I may be the next Crazy Bride, but I didn't want to move out either. My wing's more than big enough, it practically is a house. And he loves this place as much as you, as much as all of us."

"Del's coming home," Parker murmured.

Her family, she thought, everyone she loved and cherished, would soon be together. And that, she knew, was what made a home.

By eight fifty-nine, Parker was dressed in a sharply tailored suit the color of ripe eggplants with a hint of frill on her crisp white shirt. She spent precisely fifty-five minutes answering e-mails, texts, and phone calls, refreshing notes in various client files, checking and confirming deliveries with subcontractors on upcoming events.

At the stroke of ten she walked down from her third-floor office for her first on-site appointment of the day.

She'd already researched the potential client. Bride, Deeanne Hagar, local artist whose dreamy fantasy work had been reproduced in posters and greeting cards. Groom, Wyatt Culpepper, landscape designer. Both came from old money—banking and real estate, respectively—and both were the youngest child of twice-divorced parents.

Minimal digging had netted her the data that the newly engaged couple had met at a greenfest, shared a fondness for bluegrass music, and loved to travel.

She had mined other nuggets from websites, Facebook, magazine and newspaper interviews, and friends of friends of friends, and had already decided on the overall approach of the initial tour, which would include the mothers of both.

She scanned areas as she did a quick pass-through on the main level, pleased with Emma's romantic flower displays.

She popped into the family kitchen where, as expected, Mrs. Grady was putting the finishing touches on the coffee tray, the iced sun tea Parker had requested, and a platter of fresh fruit highlighted with Laurel's tissue-thin butter cookies.

"Looks perfect, Mrs. G."

"It's ready when you are."

"Let's go ahead and set it up in the main parlor. If they want the tour straight off, maybe we'll move it outside. It's beautiful out."

Parker moved in to help, but Mrs. Grady waved her off. "I've got it. I just put it together that I know the bride's first stepmother."

"Really?"

"Didn't last long, did she?" Movements brisk, Mrs. Grady transferred the trays to a tea cart. "Never made the second wedding anniversary, if I remember right. Pretty woman, and sweet enough. Dim as a five-watt bulb, but good-hearted." Mrs. Grady flicked her fingertips over the skirt of her bib apron. "She married again—some Spaniard—and moved to Barcelona."

"I don't know why I spend any time on the Internet, when I can just plug in to you."

"If you had, I'd've told you Mac's mother had a flirt with the bride's daddy between wives two and three."

"Linda? Not a surprise."

"Well, we can all be grateful it didn't take. I like the girl's pictures," she added as they rolled the cart toward the parlor.

"You've seen them?"

Mrs. Grady winked. "You're not the only one who knows how to use the Internet. There's the bell. Go on. Snag us another client."

"That's the plan."

Parker's first thought was the bride looked like the Hollywood version of a fantasy artist with her waist-length tumble of gilded red hair and almond-shaped green eyes. Her second was what a beautiful bride Deeanne would make, and on the heels of it, just how much she wanted a part of that.

"Good morning. Welcome to Vows. I'm Parker."

"Brown, right?" Wyatt shot out a hand. "I just want to say I don't know who designed your landscape, but they're a genius. And I wish it had been me."

"Thank you so much. Please come in."

"My mother, Patricia Ferrell. Deeanne's mom, Karen Bliss."

"It's lovely to meet all of you." Parker took stock quickly. Wyatt took charge, but genially—and all three women let him. "Why don't we have a seat in the parlor for a few minutes and get acquainted."

But Deeanne was already wandering the spacious foyer, scanning the elegant staircase. "I thought it would be stuffy. I thought it would feel stuffy." She turned back, her pretty summer skirt swaying. "I studied your website. Everything looked perfect, looked beautiful. But I thought, no, too perfect. I'm still not convinced it's not too perfect, but it's not stuffy. Not in the least."

"What my daughter might've said in many fewer words, Ms. Brown, is you have a lovely home."

"Parker," she said, "and thank you, Mrs. Bliss. Coffee?" she invited. "Or iced sun tea?"

"Could we just look around first?" Deeanne asked her. "Especially outside, as Wyatt and I want an outdoor wedding."

"Why don't we start outside, then circle back through. You're looking at next September," Parker continued as she moved to the door leading to the side terrace.

"A year from now. That's why we're looking at this time, so we can see how the landscape, the gardens, the light all work."

"We have several areas that can be utilized for outdoor weddings. The most popular, especially for larger events is the west terrace and pergola. But…"

"But?" Wyatt echoed as they strolled around the house.

"When I see the two of you, I picture something a little different. Something we do now and then. The pond," she said as they rounded to the back. "The willows, the roll of the lawns. I see a flower-strewn arbor and white runners flowing like a river between the rows of chairs—white again, strung with flowers. All of that reflected in the water of the pond. Banquets of flowers everywhere—but not formal, more natural arrangements. Cottage garden flowers, but in mad abundance. My partner and our floral designer Emmaline is an artist." Deeanne's eyes took on a gleam. "I loved what I saw of her work on the website."

"You can speak with her directly if you decide to have your wedding with us, or even if you're just considering it. I also see fairy lights glittering, candles flickering. Everything natural, organic—but sumptuous, sparkling. Titania's bower. You'll wear something flowing," she said to Deeanne. "Something fairylike, with your hair down. No veil, but flowers in your hair."

"Yes. You're very good, aren't you?"

"It's what we do here. Tailor the day to reflect what you want most, what you are, individually and to each other. You don't want formal, but soft and dreamy. Neither contemporary nor old-fashioned. You want you, and a bluegrass trio playing you down the aisle."

"‘Never Ending Love,'" Wyatt supplied with a grin. "We've already picked it. Will your artist of a florist work with us, not only on the wedding landscape, but the bouquets and all that?"

"Every step of the way. It's entirely about you, and creating the perfect—even too-perfect—day for you," she said with a smile for Deeanne.

"I love the pond," Deeanne murmured as they stood on the terrace looking out. "I love the image you've just painted in my head."

"Because the image is you, baby." Karen Bliss took her daughter's hand. "It's absolutely you."

"Dancing on the lawn?" Wyatt's mother glanced over. "I checked out the website, too, and I know you have a gorgeous ballroom. But maybe they could have dancing out here."

"Absolutely. Either, both, however you want it done. If you're interested we can set up a full consult, with my partners, discuss those areas, and more details."

"What do you say we take a look at the rest." Wyatt leaned down to kiss Deeanne's temple.

At four thirty, Parker was back at her desk refining spreadsheets, charts, schedules. In concession to the end of the day's appointments, her suit jacket hung on the back of her chair, and her shoes sat under the desk.

She calculated another hour's paperwork, and considered the day a blissfully light one. The rest of the week promised to be insanely jammed, but with any luck, by six she'd be able to change into casual clothes and treat herself to a glass of wine and actually sit down to a meal.

She went hmm? at the rap on her doorjamb.

"Got a minute?" Mac asked.

"I happen to have several on me. You can have one." Parker swiveled in her chair as Mac hauled in two shopping bags. "I missed you in the gym this morning, but I see you've continued your weight lifting."

Grinning, Mac flexed. "Pretty good, huh?"

"You're ripped, Elliot. You'll have show-stopping arms on Wedding Day."

Mac dropped into a chair. "I have to do justice to the dress you found me. Listen, I've sworn not to become Mad Bride or Weepy Bride or other various aspects of Annoying Bride, but it's getting close and I just need assurances from the goddess of all wedding planners."

"It's going to be perfect, and exactly right."

"I changed my mind on the first dance again."

"It doesn't matter. You can change it up until the countdown."

"But it's symptomatic, Parks. I can't seem to stick to a basic item like a damn song."

"It's an important song."

"Is Carter taking dance lessons?"

Parker widened her eyes. "Why would you ask me?"

"I knew it! God, that's so sweet. You got Carter to take dance lessons so he won't step on my feet during our first dance."

"Carter asked me to arrange it—as a surprise. So don't spoil it."

"It makes me gooey." Her shoulders lifted and fell with her happy sigh. "Maybe I can't stick because I keep going gooey. Anyway, I had that off-site engagement shoot this afternoon."

"How'd it go?"

"Aces. They're so damn cute I wanted to marry both of them. Then I did something stupid on the way home. I stopped by the shoe department at Nordstrom."

"Which I have already cleverly deduced by the shopping bags."

"I bought ten pair. I'm taking most of them back, but—"

"Why?"

Mac narrowed her green eyes. "Don't encourage the lunatic. I couldn't stick, again. I already bought my wedding shoes, right? Didn't we all agree they're perfect?"

"Stunning and perfect."

"Exactly, so why did I buy four alternate pair?"

"I thought you said ten."

"The other six are for the honeymoon—well, four of them, then I really needed a new pair of work shoes and they were so cute I got one pair in copper and another in this wild green. But that's not important."

"Let me see them."

"The wedding shoes first, and don't say anything until I line them all up." Mac held up both hands. "Total poker face. No expression, no sound."

"I'll turn around, work on this spreadsheet."

"Better you than me," Mac muttered, then got to work.

Parker ignored the rustling, the sighs, until Mac gave her the go-ahead.

Turning, Parker scanned the shoes lined up on a work counter. Rose, crossed over, scanned again. She kept her face blank, said nothing as she picked up a shoe, examined it, set it back, moved to the next.

"You're killing me," Mac told her.

"Quiet." She walked away to take out a folder, slipping out the photo taken of Mac in her wedding dress. She took it back to the selection of shoes, nodded.

"Yes. Definitely." She picked up a pair. "You'd be a lunatic not to wear these."

"Really!" Mac slapped her hands together. "Really? Because those were the ones. The. Ones. But I kept waffling back and forth and sideways. Oooh, look at them. The heels, they're all sparkly, and the ankle strap's so sexy—but not too sexy. Right?"

"The perfect blend of sparkly, sexy, and sophisticated. I'll take the others back."

"But—"

"I'll return them because you've found the ultimate wedding shoe and need to stick. You have to remove the others from your sight and stay out of the shoe department until after the wedding."

"You're so wise."

Parker inclined her head. "I am indeed wise. And as such, I do believe this pair may very well be Emma's wedding shoe. I'll exchange it for her size, and we'll see."

"Oh, oh, again, wise points." Mac picked up the pair Parker indicated. "More romantic, more princessy. This is great. I'm exhausted."

"Leave the wedding shoes—all of them—with me. Take the others. Oh, and check your calendar when you get home. I added in consults."

"How many?"

"Out of the five tours I did today, we have three full consults, one need to talk it over with Daddy—who's footing the bill—and one who's still shopping around."

"Three out of five?" Mac did a double fist pump. "Woo-hoo."

"I'm betting four out of five, because Daddy's girl wants us, and wants us bad. The fifth? The bride just isn't ready to decide. Her mother wants us, which my instincts tell me is a strike against us in this case. We'll see."

"Well, I'm psyched. Three fulls and I've bagged the perfect wedding shoes. I'm going home to give my guy a big wet kiss, and he won't know it's because he's taking dance lessons. Thanks, Parks. See you later."

Parker sat, studied the shoes on the counter. She thought of Mac rushing home to Carter. Thought of Laurel greeting Del when he came home after a two-day business conference in Chicago. And Emma maybe sitting out on her little patio having wine with Jack and dreaming of her own wedding flowers.

She swiveled around to stare at the spreadsheet on the screen. She had her work, she reminded herself. Work she loved. And that's what mattered right now.

Her BlackBerry signaled, and a glance at the readout told her another bride needed to talk.

"I've always got you," she murmured, then answered. "Hi, Brenna. What can I do for you?"

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“Funny, spicy, and enjoyable.”

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Happy Ever After 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1710 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Although a bridal expert who opened up a Connecticut wedding planning company Vows with her three best friends, Parker "Legs" Brown feels left behind as her BFFs have met their respective true love. Hosting the events on the Brown estate, Parker wonders when her Mr. Right will appear. Parker's brother Del's friend Malcolm Kavanaugh is a former stuntman turned mechanic who still likes a sort of on the edge lifestyle. He and Legs are attracted to one another, but where he is a wild Harley driver, she is a prim sedan driver. As they fall in love, Legs and her three buddies look back to when they first opened up Vows as four single women without men in their lives, but now are the Brides Quartet. This is a fun lighthearted finish to Nora Roberts' homage to weddings. The lead couple is a nice pairing of seemingly opposites. With the appearance of characters from the other three books in the series adding to the enjoyment, fans of Ms. Roberts will appreciate the entire Brides Quartet saga (see Savor the Moment, Vision in White and Bed of Roses), as each of Vows founding sisters find love and marriage. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would like to know why ebook prices are more than the book price. I have bought every Nora Roberts book once, and again on a few before I realized they were being re-released. Though the whole idea of e-books was the savings would get passed along. Doesn't seem like loyal fans are getting anything out of the deal except higher prices. Won't be buying anymore. Will wait and get a used book cheaper.
Ro50 More than 1 year ago
This is one of the worst books I've read in a long time. The other 3 books of the series were wonderful. I don't know what happened with this book but it's really bad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book. It's a perfect ending to the series but an ebook should NEVER cost more than the paper copy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't think this was one of her best books as the character development was a little weak. She focused a lot on the group as a whole instead of on the two main characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed with Del and Laurel's story in book #3, so I was hoping that Mal and Parker's story would end the series on the right note. It did! It was a great way to end the quartet and, can I just say, that I love Mal Kavanaugh!!!
Daintylady More than 1 year ago
I cried and I laughed, But I did not connect. It was a book that I could put down and come back to later. It did not keep me on the 'edge'. I love Nora's books. And she wrote it very well for what it was, But it just was not intresting to me. Maybe it was the subject.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i loved this series and have been waiting for the final bk for a bit! I LOVE, ADORE, and ADMIRE nora robert bks in general but i felt this was totally lacking in romance :( I was expecting soooo much more from the Parker and Mal story!! Dont get me wrong its still a good read but i felt like it was more just to finish the Quartet then to really get into the story :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I worship Queen Nora as much as the next person and am very rarely disappointed in her books. This was the exception. This book left me asking one question: where was the romance? It read well and was a great story but I felt that something was missing, like the "romance" part of this romance novel got pushed aside.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This whole series was awesome. I was sad to come to the end. Please write a sequel with the rest of the weddings & maybe a Mrs G story thrown in.
Booklovingmommy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This series was good but wasn't one of my favorites of Nora Robert's. It was strictly romance with no suspense or supernatural elements. The fourth and last book in the series, Happy Ever After, was sweet and entertaining if not a bit predictable. I think from the second book, we knew that Parker would be paired up with Malcolm so no surprise there. No major conflicts or turmoil to add a little spice to it but just sweet romance. I really enjoyed Malcolm's character and loved his mom! Some of the events were a little unbelievable. These four women run a wedding business and each, with the exception of Parker, are getting married. However, they all let Parker pick out the wedding dress. There is no playing dress up with beautiful princess dresses in front of friends and family. Parker just found the "perfect" dress and it magically was the one each girl wanted with no questions or doubts. Really...what girl doesn't want to go and try on a million dresses just for the fun of it? That's the best part of the wedding planning!Also, some of the dialogue was a little out there. Who says things like "I want you in my bed but this isn't the time" or "I'm sleeping with your sister so get over it"? I thought some of the characters were a little too forward and blunt.All in all, it was a nice little romance novel that reads quickly and easily. I didn't get bored during it at all. I just personally prefer her series like the Circle Trilogy or the Key Trilogy.
pither on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good conclusion to the series! I found the third a bit boring, a bit of a place filler and not living up to expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Parker and Mal get together! I loved seeing Mac and Carter's wedding; I only wish it wasn't a Quartet so we could see the other three have their big days!
cenneidigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wedding of one of their own was a great way to end the four books. Loved them, not much happens but romance. They are quick and fun to read. I enjoyed them all.
bookappeal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sure, it's the kind of perfect fictional romance and wedding story that leads too many young girls down the aisle with unrealistic expectations of marriage but why not start the new year with a fairy tale? The exquisite details of wedding planning by the women of Vows are stunning - you'll wish you could see it in real life. This final entry in the quartet is not the strongest story - Parker and Mal's relationship comes across as somewhat forced and the dialogue leans toward too clever - but Roberts wraps up the final bride-to-be with a romantic and sexy tale and the happy ending couldn't be more certain.
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A nice finish to the Bride Quartet. Parker is organized and driven. A motorcycle-riding mechanic is not who she expected to fall in love with. But Mal isn't taking No for an answer.Not as much of a tearjerker as many of Roberts's romances.
dhaupt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Parker Brown experienced what no child ever wants to go through in the tragic death of her parents, in the after math of that tragedy however Parker was able to turn her childhood dream into a reality, the reality of Vows. Vows runs like a well oiled machine and with the expertise of her three closest friends has become the premier event planning company in Connecticut. Now that those three friends are all well and truly in love with their other halves and engaged, Parker is up to her eyebrows in weddings to plan, the thing she does not need is a certain motorcycle riding, leather wearing, irreverent bad boy mechanic to stir her blood, but none-the less her blood stirs whenever he¿s around. Malcolm Kavanaugh is a true go to fix it guy, if it¿s got parts he can take it apart and put it back together purring, the other thing he¿s a great admirer of a great set of legs and that¿s the first thing he¿s noted about Parker, but knowing how things work doesn¿t necessary mean he knows what¿s in his heart or even how to express himself and when these two unlikely pair up not only are there fireworks but it might just be love.It¿s mind boggling how Ms. Roberts keeps her novels fresh especially when you realize just how many a year she turns out, but fresh is one thing that stood out with this entire mini-series and in my humble opinion this novel Happy Ever After is the best of the four. The storyline is amusing, thoughtful and sometimes heart wrenching but it¿s everything you¿d expect in the planning of the most important day of your life especially when some of the brides to be might just have been hatched by the devil. If you¿re a Nora Roberts fan you will recognize the dialogue as she loves certain phrases and lines of speech, but that¿s not a bad thing at all. The one thing that she has down to a science in this series is the interactions of the friends. There have been times during this novel when the 4 women alone or with their significant others were together that the conversation was so articulate and real that I could actually visualize the gathering and the exchanges in my head. Her characters are all over the spectrum from over the top wealthy to ordinary John and Jane Does, the main protagonists in this installment of the Bride Quartet were the most unlikely to pair up together, the most likely to not make it to the Happy Ever After and probably the most deserving of it, and we her audience will be following the progress and laughing one minute and wiping tears the next as well follow the couple through their romance which is funny and sad at the same time, to the love scenes that would scorch the staunchest readers and leave them smoking in their seats.My suggestion would be to all those bride to bees out there, to all the MOH¿s, the MOG¿s, the MOB¿s to the GMOB to the SOB¿s and if you¿re having trouble deciphering these terms well my suggestion would be to get Happy Ever After and find out what it¿s all about. I think of all of the novels in the series this one stands best alone but why risk missing some minute detail that you can only find in Vision in White which is the first novel or maybe you¿ll miss some important biographical fact from Bed of Roses, the second in the series or maybe just maybe you¿ll miss some important detrimental element from one of the groups relatives we meet in Savor The Moment the third in the series. The solution, get all four in the bride quartet series, you will not be sorry you did,
mschweer432 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this book, Parker, the super organized wedding planner, connects with Malcolm, the town's mechanic. It was a good book. I like Nora Roberts and this was pretty standard for her. This was the final book of the Bride Quartet and I have to say I'm glad. I enjoyed the series, but I'm ready to move on. I can only read about weddings so much before I'm sick of them!! It was nice to get to read about Mac's wedding (who we met in book one) but I was starting to get tired of all the complaining brides who called Parker at all hours of the day and night complaining to her like she was their best friend or sister. It was slightly unbelievable to me. However, I really enjoyed the story line between Parker and Malcolm. I think they are great characters who fit well together. Malcolm's mom, Kay, was also great. Although I found her "worship" of the Brown family offputting. I wished there could have been a little bit more regarding the previous book's couples in this, the final book. I don't think poor Jack had more than a single line in the whole book! Overall, it was a really good book that I enjoyed reading and will read again in the future!
lmm831 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
was hoping that I would enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the first 3 in this series. I am happy to say that I think that I enjoyed this book even more than the first three. I love the charter development that continues through each of these books. Parker was calm and collected through the first three books while we got to know her and how dedicated she is to her friends, who she considers her family, we never really saw the soft side of her. I was pleased to find that she was not as collected as we all thought. Mal has been the same bold character thought since we were introduced to him. I love that we get to know Mal's mother and the history between her and Mrs. G. I love that we get to continue to explore the other three brides to be while getting the real focus on how Mal and Parker move into their relationship. I think my favorite part of this story is how Mrs, G finds Parker's mother's wedding dress out for her at the end of this book. All in all, I wish there was a follow up series about these weddings and how they go off. I love reading Nora Roberts she just has a way of telling a story.
phyllis2779 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very nice ending to the Bride Quartet. I liked the contrast between the Kavanagh and Brown characters. Also, the behind the scenes look at the wedding industry was very interesting. I wonder how accurate it was.
thewalkinggirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was fine. A light, sweet, not particularly deep romance; the ending seemed a bit abrupt, though. I did take a full point off for the rampant and distracting typographical errors. Either NR or Berkley is getting sloppy with editing her books and it shows.
kmartin802 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The finale to the Brides Quartet gives us the romance between Parker and Malcomb. Parker is super-organized and busy. She doesn't have time for romance other than those she organizes at her wedding planning business. Mal is a mechanic who owns his own garage, restores old cars, and who was a former movie stunt man. He is also a friend of Parker's brother Del. He's middle class and she's old money. Both have similarities too. Both are fixers and honest, generous and loyal. Also they understand each other. No romance can run smoothly though. He has a tendency to retreat inside himself in times of trouble and doesn't want to think about or share his past. She feels that he isn't committing to her unless he is open to her about how he became who he was. This was a great romance and typical of Roberts.
tipsister on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm just so sad that this series is over. Maybe Ms. Roberts can write a book about Mrs. G! She's due a wedding of her own. Anyway. . . Happy Ever After is the fourth book in the Bride Quartet. It isn't my favorite of the series but I still enjoyed it very much. It was nice to read just a good romance with very little conflict, just love. I've grown to care for the gals at Vows and it was nice to at least get one wedding (Mac and Carter's) in this book. I want one more book so that I can read about the other weddings! In Happy Ever After, Parker continues to be grumpy at Mal and Mal continues to pursue Parker. It's a match made in heaven. If you've read the other books in the series, you've already met Mal and probably already figured out that he's perfect for the extremely organized Parker. He messes with her life just enough to make it interesting. The whole series is just romantic and fluffy. If you like Nora Roberts, you've probably already picked up this series, but if not, I do recommend it. They make you want a happy ever after of your own.
cookiemo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book while travelling. It was perfectly suited for this purpose as I could p[ick it up and immediately continue reading without having to go back and check any facts.It is the final book in the bride quartet. I haven't read the others as yet.It's a light read and like Nora Roberts other books. Entertaining and easy to read.
EmScape on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to reading Parker and Malcolm's story and I was not let down. Malcolm has had some difficult things to deal with in life, and is not really into talking about it. Parker had an undeniably charmed existence until her parents died, but still has a pretty sweet time of it. Parker is just the person to break down Mal's barriers. (I did have a little problem with tow characters called Mal and Mac, but that's more just me reading really fast...) Also, this book references Buffy the Vampire Slayer at least twice, possibly three times, a long with that sparkling dialogue that is a hallmark of both Roberts and Whedon. So, kudos.
onyx95 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The wedding industry was something Parker Brown and her three best friends knew a lot about. Running Vows, a business all about weddings, she had gotten use to seeing the happiest days of peoples lives and now all three of her friends as well as her brother had found that one special someone. Planning their wedding would be fabulous for her as well as them, finding the loneliness as a side effect of it all was very unexpected. Having known the Brown family for so long, Malcolm Kavenaugh was amazed at how quickly and easily she became so important in his life. No matter that they seemingly came from different worlds, the just couldn¿t and wouldn¿t stop what was happening. Book 4 ¿.. As a conclusion to the Bride Quartet series, it was very predictable. We first met Mal in a previous book and saw the interest between the two get started. Unfortunately Mal changed (or maybe he just didn¿t live up to my expectations of him). I liked the inclusion of the other ladies (and their men) and it did all wrap up nice and neat, but this one was not as good as it could have been or as good as the rest of the series was. The Straight laced image of Parker and the Regular Joe image of Mal left a lot of untouched ground that could have made for a better romance. The friendships were well played.