Title: Bad Luck Bridesmaid
Author: Alison Rose Greenberg
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication date: January 11, 2022
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance
One Sentence Summary: After failing to get three brides down the aisle as a bridesmaid, Zooey doesn’t believe in marriage, and risks losing the love of her life if she doesn’t get her best friend, and fourth bride, down the aisle.
Bad Luck Bridesmaid is about one woman who has failed to see three brides walk down the aisle, so now she doesn’t believe in marriage and Forever despite being head over heels in love with her boyfriend, who soon becomes her ex-almost fiance. Now they’re both in Ireland for her best friend’s wedding, who also happens to be her ex’s cousin. What has the makings to be a fun rom-com style story is actually very much women’s fiction. We really get to know the main character, Zooey, and her fear of marriage as she comes to terms with what it all means to her. Overall, I felt the story behind her being bad luck was flimsy at best, but her relationships with some of the characters were a lot of fun and it was nice to see her come into her own, to see her stand on solid feet about her feelings on marriage.
Zooey Marks believes she’s cursed. She’s been a bridesmaid in three weddings, but none of the brides managed to walk down the aisle. Believing herself cursed and completely incapable of believing in Forever, she nevertheless falls hard for her best friend’s cousin. It’s magical and perfect, until he gets down on one knee and she says she can’t.
Heartbroken, Zooey jets off to Ireland for her best friend’s wedding, dead set on getting her fourth bride down the aisle to break her curse and make her agree to Forever with the man whose heart she just shattered. Except the bride’s mother doesn’t want her daughter to marry a man she just met mere months ago and the groom’s brother is recently divorced and is now absolutely cynical about marriage, and her ex has just brought another woman to the wedding.
I really wanted to love this one. The description made it sound like it had all the makings for a hilarious rom com, and I do love a good rom com. Sadly, it didn’t quite deliver. There wasn’t much humor, but a lot of serious, nostalgic memories that seemed to make Zooey too sad and wistful to have a fun time. As women’s fiction, it really delivered, but Zooey was kind of insufferable and I really, really wanted to shake her every other page.
Bad Luck Bridesmaid sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun. While there were some fun parts, they felt too few and far between. Instead, it sometimes felt like a montage of memories from Zooey of her childhood, adulthood, and only serious romance. There were so many flashbacks it got tiring after a while. I really didn’t need the first few chapters that detailed how successful Zooey became at such a young age and how she failed to get two brides down the aisle. I did enjoy the romance, but I couldn’t stop wondering when the actual story was going to get going. It felt like a really long setup to what the book was supposed to be about: Zooey trying to get her fourth bride down the aisle. Fortunately, that part didn’t feel rushed and I loved how real and emotional it was, but the first half was entirely too long.
As for the story of a woman who thinks she’s a cursed bridesmaid? It was absolutely ridiculous to begin with. I was hoping for something really juicy and interesting, but it really came down to how self-centered Zooey was. Her reasons were flimsy at best, especially since she really seemed to want to be with the man she’d just said no to, and I just wanted to scream at her to stop thinking about herself. Or to just be honest. I found myself scratching my head about where her nutty ideas came from. It would have been nice if it had made for an interesting, fun, and funny story, but it just made me feel exhausted.
As women’s fiction, it did deliver. Bad Luck Bridesmaid tells the story of a very self-assured and successful woman coming to terms with herself. She’s just lost the love of her life and is now facing some hard truths about herself. Of course she runs away and tries to deflect. I really enjoyed how in her head and wrapped up in her emotions the reader gets, even if it was exhausting. It’s all about Zooey trying to figure herself out and what she wants. The thing that clicked in her head felt a little rushed and too easy, but I was satisfied by how the story ended.
Bad Luck Bridesmaid comes off as romance for most of the book. I actually forgot it was women’s fiction until the end because the romance was so strong. If it had been a romance, I could have done without the romance with the ex. It would have been quite fun as a romance with the groom’s brother. I enjoyed their animosity, and this really could have been a fun enemies to lovers story. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed their repartee much more than her romance with her ex.
Zooey, well, I had a hard time sympathizing with her. I did like just how assertive and strong and self-assured she is, but much of the story also revealed her many weaknesses and her inability to be self-assured, usually exactly when I wanted her to be the opposite. I wanted to like her, but I really just didn’t. As much as I enjoyed her journey, she just annoyed me. I get a lot of it was probably to protect herself, and that clearly she’s self-centered, but it too often felt a little much. I kept wanting to see a redeeming quality in her, but it took most of the book and some really great realizations in the nick of time to get there. I really didn’t like how she made it all about herself, and I just felt like the men in her life were little more than collateral damage.
What was really enjoyable was the setting. Set partly in Ireland, I really enjoyed it. I wish it had felt a little more green to me, but it’s set at a castle at a lake. How much more charming could it get? And there’s a forest where Zooey attempts to shake her fear of birds. But I loved how sumptuous the castle sounded. Even though it was Zooey staying at the hotel, I really enjoyed fantasizing about being there myself and taking a nice vacation. The castle sounded lovely and the descriptions of some of the skies was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t say for sure I felt like I was in Ireland, but I did feel like I was on a vacation.
As women’s fiction, Bad Luck Bridesmaid was a lot of fun as it really offered a window in one woman’s thoughts and how she discovered more of herself. Some of the story was too much on the flimsy side for me to really believe it and I really just wanted to shake and scream at Zooey. Her friendship with Hannah, though, was lovely and sweet and the animosity with the groom’s brother was absolutely delightful. Overall, the basis of the story felt a bit on the unsubstantial side and the main character was clearly choosing to not see what was right in front of her face, but this novel still has some good bits and pieces that were a lot of fun.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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