Dakota Halifax loves to be in love. In fact, as one of Las Vegas's premier wedding planners, she's built a whole career around romance. Which is why her own wedding has to be nothing short of perfect. And then her fiancé jilts her. While she's waiting in her wedding dress. On a cruise ship already out at sea.
Once back on dry land, Dakota tries to pour her heart into her business and weekly wedding advice column, Get Ready to Wed. But how can the heartbroken celebrate others' true love? When she reconnects with her childhood best friend, surprisingly sexy and all-grown-up casino bouncer Brendan West, Dakota wonders if maybe she can fall back in love with being in love.
But then her ex reappears, begging for another chance, and suddenly Dakota questions if she'll ever understand love. Can someone once-burned and twice-shy ever find her way down the aisle again?
About the Author
USA Today Bestselling author Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she'd be even crazier. She has way too many shoes but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they're sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.
Read an Excerpt
Ready to Wed
By Cindi Madsen, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Cindi Madsen
All rights reserved.
The swirly red letters on the front door of my office seemed to taunt me this morning. Ready to Wed, they proclaimed — there were even matching vinyl hearts on either side. I wanted to punch through the glass, watch the words and hearts shatter to the ground. I might even welcome the pain that the shards would be sure to bring to my knuckles, simply to have something to detract from the hollow ache that had settled over my heart.
Maybe this was a bad idea.
I had to face my office sometime, though, and with a client coming in first thing tomorrow morning, that only left today to do it without an audience. I didn't want to end up crying at the sight of wedding paraphernalia during the consult. Brides had dibs on breakdowns in this office, and as I'd gotten to relive every day for the past two weeks, I definitely wasn't a bride.
I shoved my way inside, frowning at the cheery room that was so covered in depictions of romance that even Venus, goddess of love herself, would probably say, "Whoa, girl. Maybe it's time to stop hitting the ambrosia so hard." Simply being in my office used to make me feel enamored, but right now it was rubbing salt in an open wound.
I took a generous sip of my coffee, hoping more caffeine would help, walked over to my desk, and dropped the giant stack of mail on top. There were a lot of envelopes in varying shades of white, cream, and pink, no doubt family and friends sending their matrimonial well wishes.
I tore one open and slid out the contents. There was a gift card to Bed Bath & Beyond inside. The next one had a hundred-dollar bill, and the one after that, a donation made in Grant's and my name to save a seal. I was going to have to find a way to send it all back — well, not the save-a-seal gift. They'd have to bite the bullet on that one, because I wasn't going to un-help the seals. But the rest would need to be returned. Did they make a thanks for the thought, but I'm still single card?
Even worse, I knew this was only the tip of the congrats iceberg. Most of Grant's and my family and friends would've sent cards and gifts to the house, and they'd all need to be dealt with, too. My lungs felt like they were collapsing in on themselves. I shoved aside the rest of the cards, too depressed to deal right now. The Las Vegas Beacon was at the bottom of the stack. Because I'm obviously a masochist, I opened up to my column.
My wedding advice column, Get Ready to Wed, now made me feel like a bigger fraud than the six-foot-five drag queen who played Mariah Carey down at the Strat. Don't get me wrong, the guy could sing — even hit those glass-shattering high-pitched notes — but he was no Mariah.
I used to be the real deal. The wedding planner who made it all happen, regardless of the snags involved in pulling off a perfect wedding. When people used to ask me how I did it, I threw out terms like "attention to detail," "perfectionist," and all of those nicer-sounding descriptions, but I'm not afraid to admit it anymore. It's because I'm a control freak. I like making charts and lists and checking off one item at a time. When it's Go Time and everything falls into place exactly like I planned — because I've ensured it will — satisfaction pumps through my veins. I even like the challenge of a last-minute problem. Plus, making a couple's wedding dreams come true makes me feel like their fairy godmother — except I'm much younger and better dressed than your typical fairy godmother.
Vegas is synonymous with weddings, and believe it or not, some people who live here don't want to get married in any of the little chapels of right here and now. I'd made a name for myself by pulling off extravagant weddings without a hitch — at least the clients didn't know about all the hitches I frantically fixed behind the scenes. Which was how I'd landed an advice column in the local paper.
For my last one, I'd decided to go unconventional. I wanted to announce to the world — or the greater Las Vegas area, anyway — that I was about to marry the man I loved. Since we'd decided on a low-key wedding on a cruise ship, this was my way for everyone to share in the tingly awesomeness of an in-love couple tying the knot. I stared at the article now, and it definitely wasn't giving me any kind of tingly feelings.
In fact, I was relatively sure I might puke.
Get Ready to Wed by Dakota Halifax
I'm Getting Married
The time has finally come for my very own wedding! My fiancé and I are going a little unconventional, which I know I sometimes frown upon (eighties-themed weddings — just say no). But to each their own, I guess. I'm going to go ahead and advise you to do whatever makes you happy. Not your mom, your sister, or your mother-in-law-to-be, but you. I suppose you might also want to consider your significant other's feelings as well. I've heard that grooms now have a say in weddings — when the hell did that happen? (Don't worry, in a future column I'll teach you how to talk them out of that misguided Star Wars theme they want.)
But back to my wedding, because this time, I get to be the bride! The decision to get married on a beach in Jamaica was rather unplanned and out of character for me, but as soon as my fiancé suggested it, I knew it'd be perfect for us. As someone whose life revolves around planning weddings, it's nice not to have to coordinate my own. Spontaneity can add an element of excitement, but to ensure it doesn't turn into a source of stress and ruin the fun, there are some things to remember. You're going to need a license, rings, and two people to witness your nuptials. There's no reason you can't throw in a bit of tradition, finding something borrowed, something new, and something blue. Be creative! It'll only add to the memories. Coordinate with people wherever you're going, be it a hotel, a church, or a Vegas chapel. Double-check credentials, too, especially if you're going to wed out of the country. Then you can relax and enjoy the lead-up to the nuptials, whether it's a couple hours, days, or weeks.
Special thanks to all the brides who've hired me to help them out on their special day. I now feel better prepared for anything that might come my way. But most importantly, I feel so lucky to have found a great guy. I can't wait to become Mrs. Grant Douglas! As for the rest of you, I'll be back to get you ready to wed in a few weeks.
Tears blurred my eyes as I read the last few lines. You'd think I'd be all cried out. I laid my head on the paper, let my hair fall over my eyes like a dark brown curtain that'd hopefully block out the day, and felt the wetness slide down my cheek. How was I supposed to come in tomorrow and act excited as I planned the next bride's wedding? How was I supposed to write wedding advice columns when I couldn't even pull off my own?
I'm a fraud. Although my checklist had been perfect. All those things I said a bride needed in that article were accounted for. I'd done everything I could to make sure the wedding went off without a hitch. As I'd so painfully learned, though, preparedness — or even experience — doesn't mean anything if the other person doesn't show up.
I heard the door open and slowly peeled myself off the paper. I thought maybe it was someone from UPS or FedEx, but the guy wasn't wearing a uniform or holding any packages. I didn't get many walk-ins. Especially not dude walk-ins. Several got dragged in eventually, but none had ever come in without his bride-to-be.
I so wasn't ready to be in open-for-business mode, but I sucked it up and offered the best smile I could. "Hi. How can I help you?"
He ducked his head to avoid the hanging light fixture as he stepped closer, which had me guessing he was at least a couple inches past the six-foot range. "D.J.?"
Wow. Right to the point. "Sure, I can help you find a DJ. I'll just need some information about what kind of music you want, where the event is going to be, and when it is." I gestured to the chair across from me. "If you have a seat, we can get started."
He tilted his head and studied me like I was an art exhibit instead of a person, two creases forming between his eyebrows. I couldn't help but notice how good-looking he was, with messy dark blond hair that was longer on top than the sides, a strong nose that a girl could never pull off but suited him, and cheekbones usually found on male models.
I bet he's getting married to a modelesque bride he won't stand up at the altar. I hate her already.
"You're not D.J.? I heard she owns this place, and you looked like you could be ..."
No one had called me D.J. in years — not since high school. There was something familiar about this guy, like I'd seen his features before but not the exact way they were arranged.
"I'm D.J. — I usually go by Dakota these days — and this is my company. And you look very familiar, but I'm sorry, I can't place you."
He grinned, and something about it stirred memories that my mind couldn't quite catch hold of. "It's Brendan."
"Brendan West?" I stood, looking him over in a new light, seeing a hint of the boy I used to know. "No. Way."
His grin widened. "Yes way."
"No freakin' way!" I rounded my desk and hugged him, then felt a little awkward. Maybe a hug was too much? After all, it'd been about fifteen years.
But then he hugged me back, so tightly my feet left the ground. "I was almost sure it was you, even though" — he pulled away a few inches and peered at my face again — "you look so different. But the same."
"I know exactly what you mean." The thirteen-year-old boy I'd known hadn't had all the height, muscles, or a five o'clock shadow on his chin.
He wiped a finger across my cheekbone, which made me freeze in place, not sure how to respond to that oddly intimate gesture. Then he held it up, a dark smudge now on his fingertip. "At first I thought you had a black eye, which wouldn't have surprised me all that much, since I remember how rough you were when it came to sports."
A black eye? I leaned back so I could see in the mirror hanging on the wall. There was a fabulous mixture of tear-streaked mascara and newsprint across my cheekbone. I wiped at it, but it just smeared more. "Hazards of taking a nap on a newspaper." And crying, but I wasn't going to mention that. "So, what are you doing in Vegas? Don't tell me you're getting married."
"No," he said in a way that made it seem like marriage would never cross his mind. "I moved back about a month ago, actually. My mom got in touch with your dad, and once I found out you were still here, I knew I had to look you up and see what became of the girl who used to be my best friend."
I wished he'd chosen a different day, because I felt like a total mess. Not just felt like — I had black ink smudged on my face. I rubbed at it again. Before I could say anything, the office phone rang.
"Excuse me for just a minute," I said, then answered the phone.
"Dakota," Grant said, his voice stabbing me in my already-raw heart.
I gritted my teeth against the pain and the anger welling up in me. "How dare you call here."
"You won't answer on your cell, though, and we have to talk sometime. If you'll just —"
"Don't call here again, you hear me?" I slammed the phone down, holding it there as if that'd stop him from ever dialing me back.
Brendan raised an eyebrow, and I rubbed my fingers across my forehead. I knew Grant and I would have to talk eventually. I still needed to move the majority of my stuff out of his place, after all. But I wasn't ready, and I needed to find a storage unit and —
"Is someone bothering you?" I was surprised at the concern in Brendan's voice, and there was a bit of a protective vibe, too, if I wasn't mistaken. He and I had been glued to each other's sides from ages seven to thirteen, but that was a long time ago, and I didn't want to drag him into my drama now.
I flopped into my chair. "It's nothing I can't handle."
Brendan sat on the edge of my desk, facing me, and I couldn't get over how ...big he was. So tall and filled-out and oozing confidence — not that he'd ever been short on that. "Look, security's my thing. I work at the new Aces Resort and Casino. I get to take people down all the time. It's kind of like I never finished playing Fugitive, only now I have much cooler high-tech gadgets."
Despite my bad mood, I couldn't help but smile. Fugitive. The game we used to play where there were two teams, the fugitives and the cops. It involved hiding and chasing, and sometimes — if you were lucky — tackling. When I was a kid, there was nothing like that adrenaline rush of taking someone down. Or getting away when someone tried to take me down. Brendan and I were always on the same team, and whether we were fugitives or cops, we always won. We were also always covered in dirt and scratches by the end of it, too, which was half the fun.
"You need cool gadgets to tackle people now?"
A boyish grin spread across his face. "Not need. Just like. Plus, I've got more so-called fugitives to watch out for." He nudged me. "So, do you need to talk to the police? What about a restraining order?"
I waved off his words. "It's nothing like that. It's just my ex, and it's complicated."
Brendan frowned. "Complicated."
I leaned back in my chair and sighed. "I take it you don't read my column in the paper?"
"You're a writer, too?"
"Not really. It's just a tiny column with wedding tips. My last one was different from the norm because ... Well, you see ..." My mouth went dry and my lungs didn't seem to be taking in air anymore. "I was supposed to get married a couple of weeks ago."
Heat filled my cheeks, and it was too humiliating to say while he was staring at me like that. So I dropped my head in my hands. "He stood me up. At the altar. Only the altar was a beach in Jamaica, and we were on a cruise ship, which was basically like being held captive after that, and I'm just not ready to talk to him. So no restraining order required. Just ... space, I guess."
"Sorry, D.J.," Brendan said. "I didn't know. If there's anything I can do ..."
I pushed my hands through my hair. The fact was, it was time to go see Grant and figure out a more permanent living situation than crashing on Jillian's couch. Not to mention my dog was still at his house — yet another complication that made me angry and sad and too many emotions to pick one from the next.
"I'd love to catch up sometime," I said. "Next week I'll have this mess sorted out better, but honestly, I've got a lot going on right now." Like fighting the impulse to burst into tears again, which pissed me off. I'd never been much of a crier, and it was like all the years of holding back I'd done were gushing out of me now. Grant so didn't deserve to have so many tears shed over him.
Brendan nodded, pulled out a business card, and gave it to me. "Come by the casino or give me a call." He walked to the door, but turned around instead of pushing out of it. "I know you throw a killer right hook ..." He rubbed his jaw as if he could still feel its effect, and then flashed me a smile. "But if you decide you need someone, you know where to find me."
"And if you decide you need my help at the casino, I could use an excuse to get rowdy. You'd be surprised how few weddings give me the chance to use my hook."
He laughed, and I waved good-bye. Joking with him left me cheered enough to fight back the tears. Funny enough, the last time I'd cried so much was probably when he'd moved away. Losing my best friend in junior high had seemed like the end of the world, and it'd taken a long time for his absence to stop sucking.
Technically, Brendan was my first fiancé. I smiled at that, thinking of all our plans when we were young, which were usually more about where we were riding our bikes, whose house we'd eat dinner at, or which sport to play. I wondered if I'd see him often now that he was back in Vegas, or if we'd try to hang out and it'd be weird. Then again, he was already trying to take care of me, something I'd always told him he didn't need to do, though that never stopped him.
Excerpted from Ready to Wed by Cindi Madsen, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2014 Cindi Madsen. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
3 1/2 stars Dakota was left standing on the beach in her wedding dress by the guy she thought loved her. What could be a worse fate for a wedding planner? In this cute and fun story, Dakota deals with the fallout. She's devastated, yes, but where is her sweet dog, Cupid, going to live and how will the brides she plans wedding for react? And why did Grant do this? It's a lot to take in for poor Dakota but then her best friend, Brendan, shows up again after years apart and things start to get interesting. As I expected from a Cindi Madsen book, this one was very character driven. Grant had me seeing red. I get his cold feet and the reasons behind it but he handled it so badly. I wanted to throw him off the boat and cheered at the thought of Dakota taking him out with the ice bucket. It took me a while to feel things about Brendan. I was grateful he showed up and that he wasn't going to just wait for Dakota to get back to him when her life was back together. I loved that he wanted Cupid to stay with him. He had a protective, caring nature that I loved. But really, it was when Dakota and Brendan were together that I learned to love him. What's fun about this story is the smiling. From Dakota's no nonsense friend Jillian to Dakota's snarky charm, there was lots to smile about. Dakota handles her pain with a healthy dose of humor and goal setting. Her OCD organization trying to mix with Brendan's laid back decorating methods, it was fun. This is the kind of story that warms your heart and helps you believe in happy. If that's the kind of sweet romance that you enjoy, don't miss this one.
This is a delightfully fun romantic romp filled with love and laugh out loud moments. Dakota is a sweet funny woman who believes in love and lists and color coded tabs. Brendan was her best friend growing up until his family moved away. Now he is back just when she needs a friend most. This reads as a friends to lovers or a second chance romance but mostly it reads as fun. Complimentary copy provided by author/publisher for an honest review.
4 stars: READY TO WED is a contemporary, adult stand alone romantic storyline by Cindi Madsen. The focus of the story is on wedding planner and columnist Dakota Halifax and the mess that is her life. From planning other people’s weddings to writing about the do’s and don’t’s of wedding etiquette, Dakota will find herself on the receiving end of a destination wedding and the groom refuses to show. Humiliated and heartbroken Dakota returns home to Vegas where she discovers there is more than one person waiting in the wings to take her down. Told from first person POV (Dakota) the premise follows Dakota in the weeks and days following her non-wedding. From discovering the truth behind her groom’s no-show to a vindictive co-worker at the local paper where she works, Dakota struggles with a place to stay and getting on with her life. Enter Brendan West –Dakota’s former childhood friend and sweetheart, and the man with whom she will fall in love. Dakota and Brendan’s reconnection sparks something deep within each of their souls, but Dakota is a little gun shy when it comes to putting her heart on the line-one again. The relationship is slow to build; there are no sex scenes; but the love story is sure to please. Cindi Madsen pulls the reader into a charming, sweet and romantic storyline about two people who belong together. Once best friends in every possible way, Brendan’s family moved away fromVegas years before and his return to Vegas may be just what Dakota needs. The secondary characters include Dakota’s friend and wedding caterer Jillian; Dakota’s ex fiancé Grant; and a mixture of brides, bridezillas, co-workers and friends. READY TO WED is a breath of fresh air. No major complications; no erotic sex; no confusing scenarios or bitter exes. Sometimes things happen for a reason, and in this case, not getting married set into motion a string of events that resulted in Dakota reconnecting with the first love of her life.
Title: Ready To Wed Author: Cindi Madsen Publisher: Entangled Publishing Published: 7-2014 ISBN: : 978-1-62266-258-6 Ebook ISBN 978-1-62266-259-3 ASIN E-Book: B00H0V06UG Pages: 350 Genre: Romance Tags: Contemporary Overall Rating: Great 4.0 Reviewed For: Entangled Publishing Reviewer: DelAnne What do you do when your a wedding planner who pull off extravagant wedding and receptions and you find yourself left at the alter. Well if you are Dakota Halifax you get back on the ship and hope you can hold it together long enough to survive in one pece to the end of the cruise. Then when you finally dock you cancel the reception, the food and the flowers. Then you go back to work and put a smile on your face and act like you are happy to help them make their dream weddings come true, even as your are living through your worst nightmare. Then the guy that stood you up tries to win you back when at the same time you old childhood friend comes back on the scene and begins to mend your shattered heart. Due you give the one who shattered your world a second chance, trust your heart to one you haven't seen in fifteen years or build a wall around what is left of your heart to keep it safe from further damage by remaining alone? What would you do? This fast moving story starts out with a dramatic scene to grab your attention and keeps you glued to it till the very last word. Cindi Madsen has created characters you can like and relate to. If you want to read a story filled with believable characters, humor and emotional highs and lows, then Ready to Wed is the one to pick up and start today.
I'm pretty sure I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading READY TO WED. Seriously. Our girl Dakota is witty...even when she doesn't mean to be. I'm pretty sure Cindi Madsen was never jilted on her wedding day, but if she was? THIS is exactly how I would imagine her story would go. Between her wit and love of shoes that look painful to wear, I saw a lot of Cindi in Dakota Halifax. (You HAVE to follow Cindi on at least one form of social media, guys. She's freaking hilarious!) And what a story it was. Kudos to Madsen for *almost* making me feel sorry for Grant. Never thought I'd sympathize with the jilter, lol. Then along came Mr. Fabulous aka The Shirtless Wonder aka Code:Purple Passion aka Brendan. Oh, I like him. A lot. Sure, he's got it all going on with the abs and all, but I love how natural the relationship he and Dakota have is. And sure! I love when he groans into her mouth, but the way he appreciates, heck even embraces, her borderline OCD tendencies is even sexier. Okay, maybe not sexier, but you know what I mean. He's a good guy! A really hot good guy. *eyebrow waggle* It was two years ago when I picked up my first book by Cindi Madsen. Since then I've read (almost) every single YA book Cindi has written. (Sorry, Troy. I'm coming!) It's been really fun watching her grow as a writer. It feels like she's hit her sweet spot with READY TO WED and it's made me anxious to tear into her other adult romances. A special thanks to DJ and Brandon? Braden? Kidding! Do I look like a Vegas waitress? ;) Anywho, thanks to Dakota and Brendan for giving me exactly what I needed after coming off a series that shredded my heart apart. You two put it back together for me!
Enjoyable, if fluffy, book. I liked seeing a wedding planner who's own wedding didn't go well. Her ex...well...she deserved better than him. The old flame trope was nicely used in this book and I really was rooting for Dakota and Brendan. So happy when they got their HEA. Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Such a fun read! First person POV, when done well and with an interesting character, can really make a book--and that's exactly what we have here. Seeing everything from Dakota's perspective is what makes this book so entertaining. Her color-coded to-do lists, both for work and for her personal life were a riot--and perfectly demonstrated her need to be in control of everything. Some examples of items on her list: - get over my bitterness toward love - try extra hard not to punch her (Dakota's witchy-with-a-B coworker). Even make it a goal on my to-do list and everything - attempt a decent conversation (with same coworker) - get clothes from Grant’s (the ex who left her on the altar--er, beach), and start to get closure from him - stop being scared of a real relationship with Brendan and just let it happen I loved her lists. To make her life even more manageable, Dakota also used color coding, which she explained to Brendan at one point: “Code Fuchsia?” he asked, and it took me a second to realize I’d brought it up, and that of course he didn’t know what it meant. “It s-started as a joke,” I stuttered. “For bridal meltdowns. Like the terror code alert, but fancier colors. The brighter the color, the more dire the situation. It sorta seeped into my daily life, too. I even color code my to-do list. Keeps me on top of the high-action items.” He nodded like it wasn’t an odd thing to do, but his twitching mouth said he was fighting the urge to mock me for it. “The full code is actually Fanatic Fuchsia, Temperamental Tangerine, Wary Canary, Cautious Cobalt, down all the way to Low-Key Lime. Although sometimes Lime is just a level of shock that appears low-key but is masking Tangerine or even Fuchsia.” “No purple?” Definitely mocking me now, a sexy smile curving his lips. “Not on the code scale, but there’s Purple Passion of course. So something I or my bride care a lot about, but there’s not the meltdown factor involved. It’s more like good job, there’s some Purple Passion going on over there.” I shook my head. “I can’t believe I just told you all of that.” “I can’t believe I’ve missed out on Purple Passion all my life." The lists, color coding, and her "Ready to Wed" newspaper articles are woven throughout the book, showing just how out-of-her-control Dakota's life is at the beginning and how hard she's trying to wrestle it back into submission as the story continues. It was a definite benefit here not being able to see things from either of the guys' POVs--we're in the dark just as much as Dakota is about their feelings and motivations, which kept me turning the pages, as anxious as she was. Well, almost as anxious. I didn't assign any colors to my emotional state. ;) Ready to Wed has a definite chick-lit feel to it, but since I love well-written chick lit, this was nothing but a giant plus as far as I'm concerned. I adore flawed characters who admit their flaws (because already knowing you're crazy puts you a step above those who think they're "normal", am I right?) and manage to figure out a way to make things better for themselves without depending on others to do it for them. Throw in a book-boyfriend-worthy, supportive hero, and I'm a goner. Such a fun read--I'd give it three thumbs up that were possible :) Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Ready to Wed was adorable! I had fun reading this book. Madsen is always sure to provide a sweet HEA with just enough conflict to keep things interesting. Not to mention the simple lines she delivers that just grab a hold of my heart. Dakota was left at the alter, but surprisingly, I felt like she had a pretty good sense of humor about it. Well...humor might be stretching it, but I admire the fact that she took in all in stride. Yes, she was hurting, but she had a life to live and dreams to fulfill for her clients. I did feel that Dakota made a lot of personal growth in the book. She had some issues she needed to deal with regarding her mom and I felt like she got the result she needed to move forward with her own happiness. And her relationship with Brendan, I felt it was just easy. They've known each other since they were kids and despite years apart, they still shared a deep connection. I just adored Brendan. He was the perfect fit for Dakota. As for her relationship with Grant, I felt like that situation resolved pretty well. I was concerned there for a bit that it was just going to linger, but I liked seeing Grant own up to his mistake fully. Even with Grant, I felt like he made some growth. A few other things I loved in this book were, the column she writes for the paper and her anger management class. The column was just fun and I loved her sense of humor with it. And the anger management class was funny. I mean, I think she actually got a lot from it, but it was pretty funny to see her in that setting. Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I sped through it and I was left with a smile on my face. Madsen is a go to author for me and I can't wait to see what delights she brings us next! Quotes: ~When questioning your entire life, I don't advise walking into a community center that smells like moldy feet. Especially if you have to limp to get there. Trust me, it only makes your life situation seem that much dire.-Loc 1567 ~He smelled like sunshine and dude, with a side of take-me-now.-Loc 1698 ~"I've loved you one way or another since the first day we met, Dakota Jane Halifax, and I'll keep on doing it, no matter what happens. Even if we find out we're better as friends."-Loc 2128 ~Every glance, every gesture, his touch, all made me more of a believer in us.-Loc 2722
So there I was, a nice cold winter evening, wrapped in a warm blanket, kiddo in bed sound asleep, husband playing online poker, much needed glass of wine in hand, and Ready To Wed’s ARC on my phone, just waiting to be read, that familiar warm feeling washing over me. You know the one, right? It’s a feeling of anticipation, of knowing that this book (or whatever the heck you are about to do) is going to be great. It’s going to make you laugh until you feel like you’ve been doing 800 crunches an hour, you’ll feel that familiar connectivity with a character you’ve never met, but you manage to hit it off with them in a few sentences and you feel like you just found your best friend. Yet you know that it’s only a matter of pages before you’ll be crying your eyes out (well, bawling is a more appropriate word), at something this wonderful new best friend of yours does, or doesn’t do. But it’s all okay, because when you reach that last page, that last sentence, that last word and that final, final, punctuation mark, you give that sigh of contentment and you feel complete. I think it’s pretty obvious that I really loved Ready To Wed, probably to the point where I sound a bit like a psycho lady, right? Well I have come to accept that I do turn into a bit of a psycho whenever I read something that Cindi Madsen wrote. I just can’t help myself. She’s so damn good! And her characters are amazing and filled with flaws and they just manage to make you fall head over heels for them. I loved Dakota. I found her very similar to Darcy in Cinderella Screwed Me Over, but she’s a bit more of a perfectionist. She falls in love easily and sometimes it happens before she’s even sure she wanted it to happen. She’s on the ball with everything and it’s no wonder so many brides count on her for everything. I wish I had a Dakota to run to when I managed to get my hair to look like a disaster. She’s been dumped at the altar, and then she has to surround herself with blushing brides and wedding crap all day long. She’s a lot stronger than I would have been. I’d probably close up shop and move to another planet after telling the whole state I was getting married, then only to have to tell them that I did not, in fact, get married at all. But then Dakota has something that not all of us can have. Brendan West. Oh HOLY HOT DAMN, please can someone give him to me for Christmas. Please, pretty, pretty, pretty please. Brendan is everything a girl wants in a man and more. I would never be able to have him as my best friend though, because I’d be drooling and daydreaming way too much, and no one wants to do that around their best friend? Not only is he hot, but he’s sweet too, and he’s pretty damn smart. He’s like a big shot security guy at a casino, though personally I’d love it if he was my personal security guard. Watching their relationship evolve from used-to-be-friends to friends-with-a-lot-chemistry, to falling-head-over-heels-for-each-other, filled me with fun and happiness. They are the perfect embodiment of what a fun and loving relationship should be. And although I loved the whole book and all the romance and laughs, my favourite scene was not, as most would believe, between Dakota and Brendan, but it was between Dakota and her father. Even though their relationship isn’t mentioned too much or even the focus of the book, that scene had me bawling pretty ugly tears. And when you get to the end of this book, please don’t scream, or swear or curse, because people will think you are crazy and you will receive looks that convey their thoughts pretty well, and besides, it’ll be over soon and you’ll be back to laughing and crying and being generally happy.
True to form, Cindi Madsen has yet again provided her readers with a captivating, hilarious, and romantic novel that will make you laugh, swoon, and have an all around good time. Dakota Halifax is a wedding planner, and a very good one, having pulled off countless weddings that turned out perfectly for her clients. Her own, however, was an epic fail when her fiancee left her standing at the altar. Needless to say this not only broke her heart, it also humiliated her privately and worse, publicly when everyone finds out. Her business, Ready to Wed, takes a bit of a hit and Dakota is determined to pull herself out of the rut if her crazy emotions will just get out of the way. When her childhood best friend, Brendan West, shows up in Las Vegas and looks her up again, she is overwhelmed both by his hotness and his timing. As they reconnect, she finds herself feeling a whole lot more than just friendly towards Brendan. Throw in an ex who wants to get back together, a crazy reporter who likes to cause trouble, and a plethora of brides to be, then buckle your seat belt and get ready for one heck of a ride. I absolutely loved Dakota's character. She is just hilarious. The story is told from her point of view and you can't help but just love her. Brendan is hot, sexy, and as Dakota would say, definitely "YUM." I also really enjoyed the secondary characters, especially her best friend Jillian and Wild Bill. Cindi Madsen's writing not only flows beautifully, her humor and ability to pull you into the story and connect with characters is excellently done. I enjoyed the book from beginning to end and didn't want to put it down. If you love a good, fun, contemporary romance, then Ready to Wed is a must read. For fans of Cindi Madsen's Cinderally Screwed Me Over book, Ready to Wed continues in that same tradition and you will be absolutely delighted. So my recommendation, run and buy it as quick as you can and prepare yourself for a great time.
All I can say is that I didn't want this book to end. I so fell in love with Dakota and Brendan. Loved the renew friendship of these two from childhood. I read this book in one evening, I could not put it down. I was laughing out loud at times.Highly recommend for light fun read!!
What a delightful summer release from Entangled Select! Reading Ready to Wed was like watching my favorite romantic comedy on film and met all of my criteria for a fun, lighthearted read. Plucky heroine with a great sense of humor? Check! Love triangle with dramatic tension? Check! Killer shoes? Check! Dreamy leading man who looks just as good in a t-shirt and jeans as he does in a suit and tie? Check! Cindi Madsen’s adorable novel really did have it all. Dakota is the perfect leading lady. She’s quirky and high-spirited, yet completely neurotic in all the right ways. As a wedding planner obsessed with details, and yet so totally in love with the idea of being in love, I found her to be wholly relatable. As for the fiancée who left her at the altar, the author did a wonderful job of humanizing Grant and making the reader sympathize with his very real reason for getting cold feet. I didn’t spend too much time rooting for him, however, because waiting in the wings was the most delightful of leading men that I’ve read in a while. Brendan is laid back and funny, and he is all heart. I loved his driving need to take care of Dakota, starting at a young age and moving forward into this love affair. So sweet! Full of lavish descriptions of weddings and packed with tender moments, Ready to Wed is a wonderful romance. It’s light on the drama and heavy on the swoon-worthy moments and will keep you turning pages in search of more fun.
I don’t even know where or how to start, without going all fangirling mode about this book. Which doesn’t happen with a lot of books, but this one really hit the sweet spot. I’m pretty sure most of the time I had a goofy grin on my face reading it … which would explain why my face now hurts. This was my first book I read by Cindi Madsen but it won’t be my last if all her books are like this one. It was a beautiful, funny, heartwarming, romantic and a little heart breaking book that was well written and the held me captive form the first few pages. I liked that the two main characters were long lost childhood BFFs , who lost contact after one of them moved. Unlike some books where they were high school sweethearts or long lost lovers and meet again. I liked all the characters, even the not so nice ones. But I loved both of the main characters. Dakota is funny and spunky but also doubt herself sometimes but she is not willing to take any crap form anyone and knows how to throw a punch if she needs to or thinks she needs to. I really did enjoy her column she writes and that they were included in the book. Brendan, oh man where is that man in real life?? Funny, supporting, understanding and sexy all in one, the perfect package. Humor and romance with a touch of heartbreak in the right spots and moments made this a great book. I recommend it to all romance/ contemporary romance fans. I give it full 5 ¿
In a nutshell: Dakota Hallifax is 100% type A. (Having those tendencies myself, I appreciate this.) So being a wedding planner is readytowedpretty much the perfect occupation for her. But how do you plan the biggest wedding of your career when your wedding just crashed and burned with a no-show groom? Just when Dakota is sure that her life is a total mess, her childhood best friend Brendan West moves back to town. He helps her pick up the pieces. The Good: There’s a lot that I loved about this book. I’m a total sucker for happily ever afters, and this book has an awesome one. No, I won’t tell you what it is. Beyond that, I like Dakota. I can relate to being something of a control freak and can sympathize with her mother issues. I also like the fact that in spite of the utter blow of having her fiance stand her up at their wedding (mental note: do not get married on a cruise, because awkward if it doesn’t work), she doesn’t completely fall apart. True, I wanted to slap her when she actually considered giving the jerk another chance, but really, who can blame her? Been there, done that. Then there’s Brendan. Who doesn’t love a genuinely nice guy? Especially one who swoops in with a nice broad set of shoulders just when you need them? It doesn’t hurt that he’s a hottie and wears suits to work ;) Jillian, Dakota’s catering bestie, is awesome. She’s all snarky and no nonsense. She’s the kind of friend that everyone needs at least one of. Completely supportive in every way, but doesn’t pull punches or sugarcoat things. I also love her color coding system for bride moods. It’s kind of awesome and I may just steal it for my personal mood ring. The Bad: There’s that whole getting stood up at the altar thing, that’s bound to give any girl (or guy!) nightmares about getting married. Just breathe through it and keep reading! It works out. Overall: This is a great read. It hits you in all the feels and I admit to getting a tad weepy there at the end. I hope to see Jillian’s story at some point in the future.
I've read enough of Cindi Madsen's books to know that it's highly likely I won't be disappointed. Ready to Wed didn't. Dakota Halifax's fiancé, Grant, has jilted her at the alter. To add insult to injury she's a wedding planner and writes a nuptial related newspaper column. Independent, funny and feisty she's no wallflower however she's lost her faith in love and no one can blame her being cheesed off having being left at the alter, homeless and a little allergic to her job. But when her childhood best friend Brendan returns home, well he's all grown up. And bang on cue, Grant plays his hand and declares he wants her back. Now if I'm being honest, I am not a fan of triangles of the love shaped variety. I get frustrated and stressed out as even though I don't want to, I can't help feeling sorry for the underdog…and yes, I admit, I felt sorry for Grant. For about 30 seconds as that's not really where the focus of the story lies. And Brendan is a sweetheart. A funny, kind, laid-back, non-pushy, level-headed guy who commanded the swoons. His chemistry with Dakota was natural, fun, easy and sexy but the question is can she cross the line with the man who asked her to marry him when they were nine. Fun, quirky, romantic and sweet, Cindi Madsen has brought us a fabulous light romantic story ideal for laying prone by the pool reading or in my case the garden with wine and neighbours who probably think they've moved next door to some weird sighing and laughing idiot. I was expecting more of a build up to the ending, but nevertheless I loved it and if you fancy a read that would make a perfect chick-flick/rom-com, then this is exactly that. Copy received courtesy of Entangled Publishing via NetGalley for an honest & unbiased opinion