to have and to hold launches lauren layne's new wedding belles series. this novel focuses on brooke, the latest employee of the wedding belles wedding planning agency that serves as the framing device for the novels. brooke has recently moved to new york from california, after being humiliated on her wedding day by having her groom arrested at the altar for fraud. in spite of her disastrous wedding day, brooke refuses to let anything get her down. she isn't cynical about love or relationships.
her partner in the story is seth. they meet when seth's sister maya hires the wedding belles to plan her wedding after a whirlwind courtship and engagement. seth is brooke's polar opposite when it comes to believing in happily ever afters.
we get alternating points of view, and one of the things that is slightly bizarre is to be in seth's head and then see seth through brooke's eyes, because it's almost like he is two different people. he is such a jerk from brooke's perspective, so it makes sense when she doesn't give him the benefit of the doubt. but so many times brooke treats seth like absolute crap and somehow he still is the one who ends up apologizing. i mean, he's not completely innocent of behaving badly, because his temper gets the best of him several times but he's never malicious and he has a lot of damage that explains his need to control everything, his need to fix things for the people he loves, and somehow those qualities are supposed to be viewed as something really terrible.
meanwhile, by the end it appears that brooke has dealt with some of her issues, but it all happens offscreen, and during a time where seth and brooke aren't together. and i think maybe it would have been nicer to see them work through their issues together. but it's almost like they don't tackle any of the hard stuff together, and that is kind of a gyp. what makes relationships interesting and what helps them endure is being able to face the hard stuff together. often this doesn't happen in romance novels, and it's kind of a bummer, because how can you believe in a happily ever after if the only way they handle problems is apart? i believe in them because i like them, and i enjoy the stories as i read them. it's only when i stop and think about them that i start to wonder.
**to have and to hold will publish on july 26, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/pocket books in exchange for my honest review.