Series: Misfit Brides #1
Author: Jamie Farrell
Narrator: Karen White
Format: Unabridged Audiobook, 11 hours and 35 minutes
Published: June 10, 2016 by Jamie Farrell
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Audible
Source: Common Mode, the production company
Rating: Story 4 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Welcome To Bliss, the Bridal Capitol of the Midwest
Natalie Castellano practically has it all—beauty, brains, and a stellar reputation. Because childbearing hips and exhaustion lines are totally sexy. And knowing when to let go of her family’s failing bridal boutique is smart…right? Plus, who doesn’t want to be that divorced mother in Bliss?
With all she has going for her, it would be selfish to secretly wish for love too. Who needs it? Definitely not Nat. But perhaps she does need to take her wedding dress-obsessed little boy somewhere else for a fresh start.
CJ Blue is on top of the world. At least, he was last week when he stood on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Now, he’s in an empty confessional, hiding from the hullabaloo of a family wedding. Aka the depths of hell.
His meddling relatives want to poke at the deep psychological wounds he supposedly bears from being a twenty-something widower. But he doesn’t want to talk, he doesn’t want to be fussed over, and he certainly doesn’t want another chance to fail at love. He just wants to get through this wedding and back to his adventurous life.
But when a dark-haired, wounded-eye beauty invades his sanctuary and whispers a secret he was never supposed to know, he gets swept up in her life. Is he brave enough to tackle the adventure of life in Bliss, or will he walk away from the only woman in the world who could offer him love, forgiveness, and a second chance?
"There's something you need to know," he said.
Her own breath came out loud and uneven. He was entirely in her personal space, but she'd given him enough power as it was. She wouldn't back away, wouldn't let him see her agitation. He tucked her hair behind her ear. Tension took hold of her body. She shuddered, looked up to tell him to stop, but he bent forward, his lips parted, a single freckle on his cheek drawing her attention while his lips got closer and closer and closer until ---
"For future reference," he said, "I never kiss horribly." And before she could blink or breathe or think, his lips closed over hers. His grip tightened in her hair, and when she should've protested or pulled away or kicked him in the shins, her body melted into his.
Kissing him was wrong.... So wrong. She was so good at so wrong.
BLISSED by Jamie Farrell is an enjoyable, light, fun romance! It's the first book I’ve ever read by Jamie (thanks to Karen White!), but it won't be the last. It is the story of divorced single mom Natalie Castellano and sex-on-a-stick widower CJ Blue. It is set in the small town of Bliss, Illinois, the bridal capital of the Midwest. BLISSED was previously published as THE HUSBAND GAMES. I listened to the audio edition.
Natalie runs Bliss Bridal located on the main drag of Bliss, commonly known as the aisle. Her mother had been planning the fiftieth anniversary of the husband games when she passed away. The husband games is an annual event where men play against each other in a series of challenges in order to be declared husband of the year and they provide great publicity for the Bliss retailers.
A deranged, vindictive woman named Marilyn, aka the Queen General or QG for short, is the head of the planning committee for the games. The QG firmly believes that divorcées should not be allowed on the aisle. To that end, she makes Natalie's life beyond miserable. Even so, Natalie is determined to make this year's golden games the best ever in her mother's honor - though most of her efforts have to done on the sly out of the QG's sight. But, when she comes upon CJ Blue, the smokin' hot guy Natalie blames for breaking up her marriage, in a church confessional in one of the funniest scenes ever, Natalie's life gets exponentially more complicated and exciting. Here's just a taste of their meeting at the church:
“CJ's peace was restored.
"Oh shit shit shit," a woman said. Her voice rippled with the kind of panic CJ expected from the bride today, but her husky undertones were too low for her to be any of his female relatives.
Perhaps the confessional hadn't been a gift from God after all.
"If that's what you need to do, but not right now, please," CJ said.
Her shriek splintered his last hopes for peace. "Ohmigod!" his intruder gasped.
"Not generally, but hey, if that's what you want to call me, I'm game...”
Bliss is a small town and, despite her best intentions, Natalie can't avoid running into CJ.
CJ is back for his sister's wedding; he would rather be anywhere else but Bliss. CJ has problems of his own, including a guilt trip over the death of his wife and the fact that once he meets Natalie, he can't get her out of his mind. But, she doesn't seem to want to see him. He won the husband games years ago and now the QG is determined to coerce him to play in the golden games.
Following please find a couple more favorite quotes from this charming read:
"Wow. You really know how to make a woman happy..."
"I have a night-eight percent success rate with always knowing what will make a woman happy," he said.
Lindsey chuckled softly. "And how do you quantify that?"
"Would you like to know," he said.
Nat wanted to know.
"You stay married thirty-four years, you don't have to prove who's got the bigger balls. Just take it for granted she does."
BLISSED is fabulously performed by Karen White, one of my very favorite narrators. I've gotten to where I'll pick up just about anything that Karen narrates. Yes, she's that fabulous! I've found many new favorite authors via Karen - Jamie is one of them! Not surprisingly, Karen’s narration of BLISSED is excellent as she voices a variety of characters from little boys, to old men to autocratic queen generals. Her voice is clear, her delivery is natural and her pacing is perfect. You simply can't go wrong with anything that Karen narrates!
My only issue with this book was that I would have liked to have seen a bit of comeuppance for the QG. The great news is that the QG seems to lose much of her dark crazy side by the end of BLISSED courtesy of Natalie - even with Natalie being much too generous.
I really enjoyed Jamie's humor and writing style. The HEA ending left me amazed, dazed and happy. The next book, MATCHED, features Natalie's sister, Lindsay, who happens to be a fierce divorce attorney. I really liked her character in BLISSED and can't wait to read her story! I would recommend BLISS to anyone who enjoys their romances cute, light, sweet and fun!
Suggested Reading Order:
Blissed (Book #1)
Matched (Book #2)
Smittened (Book #2.5)
Sugared (Book #3)