julia London The BridesmaidIn a time of quite frequently over-complicated plots, with subplots and substrands in hundreds of thousands of words, it’s refreshing to read a good old-fashioned feel-good romance, in which girl meets boy, girl likes boy, boy likes girl – and they live happy ever after. A garish bridesmaid dress, a Bridezilla and a plane, train and automobile trek across the States thrown in (actually plane, automobile, train, plane…) all combine to spice up Julia London‘s storyline in her new book The Bridesmaid.

A contemporay novella, The Bridesmaid ticks all the boxes for a successful rom-com. It’s funny, fast-paced, sweet and a genuinely good read. Both Kate and Joe are believable, likeable protagonists and the hinterland characters of family and friends are really well drawn.

Kate’s dilemma of reaching a wedding in time, while dealing with a Bridezilla friend on the verge of a nervous breakdown and personally hampered by adverse weather, cancelled flights and a peach-coloured ‘puffy plantation ballgown number’ that she just can’t ditch, no matter how tempted she is to, proves extremely entertaining reading. Throw in handsome, but hungover Joe, on his way to a new job and new life and it’s a very readable story, with just enough action to keep the reader’s interest.

I know Julia London’s writing from the ‘Hadley Green’ historical novels, which I really like, and I was slightly apprehensive about reading a contemporary book by her as sometimes historical writers don’t compute well to other genres. However, I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed The Bridesmaid, so much so that I read it in an hour, without pause. The fact that it’s extremely  filmic helped: it’s easy to imagine it adapted into a While You Were Sleeping-esque movie. And, while I have to be frank and say I prefer Ms London’s historical fiction, that certainly doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a delightful, well-written read. It left me with the feeling that I have after eating a really good piece of chocolate (or two…) – and that’s a high accolade, indeed!

My only slight gripe is with the publisher. I understand the need for advertising other book product, but to have almost 20 pages of ads for other authors’ books at the back of a novella that is 114 pages portrait on an iPad is excessive. If it were a question of filling space (which in an ebook doesn’t really make sense to me anyway as you don’t have to think in signatures), why not publicise Ms London’s other books – or include an extract of one of her forthcoming titles? Publicising other authors in this context just seems a bit odd and also a missed opportunity to introduce contemporary audiences to the author’s other very entertaining books in a different romance genre.

Minor gripe aside, if you find yourself on your way to a wedding The Bridesmaid is a perfectly delicious read – although possibly one that you may feel hits a fraction too close to home…


Congratulations to Julia London. The Bridesmaid is a RITA finalist in the ‘Romance novella‘ category. The 2014 winners will be announced at a black-tie awards ceremony on July 26 at the 2014 RWA Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas.


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