This review discusses Country Bride by Debbie Macomber. The plot revolves around Kate’s heartbreak at a wedding, her friend Luke’s unexpected proposal, and their evolving relationship.
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, Sweet Savage Flame earns a small percentage from qualifying purchases.Country Bride by Debbie Macomber
Illustrator: Will Davies
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Romance #3059
Book Series: Country Duo #2
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
Debbie Macomber‘s Country Bride was my introduction to this hugely popular author. I’m ashamed to admit that, although I’ve read a handful of her romances, I had no idea that Debbie Macomber was such a commercial hit with her small-town romances.
Until recently, I had no clue that she’s got a whopping 200 million books in print and has written several movies for the Hallmark channel!
A Nostalgia Pick?
Country Bride was released in 1990, and I loved it. This book maintains a largely positive rating overall. However, I was surprised that the top Amazon and Goodreads reviews were negative. They blamed the heroine for being too self-centered or the hero for being too overbearing.
I thought nostalgia might have colored my opinion of this book, but after a recent re-read, my feelings on Country Bride remain unchanged. I still love this little series romance, and a big reason was the hero, Luke.
Country Bride is the sequel to Macomber’s A Little Bit Country, and I read the books in reverse order, which negatively affected my opinion of the first book in the series.
In A Little Bit Country, countryman Clay dumped his girlfriend and fiancee, Kate Logan, for Rorie, a city girl.
Country Bride picks up at Rorie and Clay’s wedding, where the heroine keeps up a brave face, pretending to be happy for the newlywed couple, even though she’s heartbroken inside. Giving her support is her long-time ranch foreman, Luke Rivers.
I was really into soap operas when I first read this book, so my head did a bit of mental casting for Luke. I pictured him as actor Randolph Mantooth, of Emergency fame, whom I knew from the ABC daytime soap Loving as the smooth, level-headed half of the super couple Alex and Ava. Ava was a manic, crazy “bad girl,” a perfect foil for the sedate Alex.
(Side note: You could always tell who Loving’s big couples were because of the alliteration, like Trisha and Tucker, Rocky and Rio, etc., although lots of soaps did that, too.)
I thought Mantooth’s handsome, even-keeled attitude fit perfectly for Luke.
Anyway, Kate downs one too many champagnes at Rorie and Clay’s wedding reception and flirts outrageously with Luke, going so far as to propose to him. The next day, she’s embarrassed. But Kate is sure that Luke will quietly forget all about her silliness. To her shock, he’s insistent that the proposal is real and, what’s more, that Kate has feelings for him.
He stands firm, acting as if their engagement is genuine and they are a couple. That confession blindsides Kate. Where had all this come from?
To her, Luke was just dependable, reliable Luke. He was always there to do what was expected of him. How dare he act as if he knew what was in Kate’s heart?
It’s All About Perspective
Now, I suppose if I had imagined Luke like this:
I would have thought Luke’s behavior was pushy and creepy. But in the land of romance, our heroes are always handsome, and on the rare occasions that they aren’t, they have lots of magnetism that draws people to them.
Kate is stubborn. Luke is a bullheaded man. The two are certain that their way is right. Luke calls Kate his “princess,” which is a bit squicky. However, he knows Kate is a high-maintenance gal and is up to keeping her happy. He’s tired of being ignored. So, he takes advantage of the best opportunity to show Kate her love for Clay is an illusion.
Final Analysis of Country Bride
I think it’s possible that readers who dislike Country Bride by Debbie Macomber don’t like arrogant heroes who claim to know the heroine’s mind better than she does hers, which is a fair argument.
It’s just that, in this case, Luke’s right. Kate’s feelings for Clay might have been genuine, but they never ran deep. She just saw him as the perfect guy and partner. Kate, who tried cultivating a reputation as the perfect woman, had her mind fixated on Clay. It was never truly her heart.
This over-30-year-old small-town romance may seem entirely from another world and may not appeal to modern readers who don’t like men who come on as strong as Luke did.
I don’t mind it if it’s presented appealingly. For me, Country Bride worked (far more than its predecessor, A Little Bit Country).
I thought this was a sweet romance about two people who made an unusual but convincing pair, and I would rank it as one of the better Harlequin Romances I’ve read.
Luke Rivers was a man of his word
He’d agreed to marry Kate Logan — but she knew it was only out of pity. Only because she’d been so devastated when Clay Franklin, the man she’d always loved, married someone else.
In fact, it was at Clay’s wedding to Rorie Campbell that Kate had rashly, foolishly proposed to Luke Rivers, the Logan foreman-turned-rancher. Now Luke refused to renege on his promise. Worse, he told Kate she didn’t love Clay, she loved HIM.
Yes, but just as a friend, an older brother, she told him. Luke disagreed, insisting that he knew Kate’s mind better than she did herself!Country Bride by Debbie Macomber