Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Carian Cole’s Don’t Kiss the Bride isn’t about a billionaire hero or a cowboy hero or a professional jock hero. Her story isn’t about a heroine whose fully self-possessed. Instead, Cole’s beautiful story is one grounded in brokenness with a hero and heroine who have endured trauma and loss in ways that indelibly change them. That the only way to find wholeness is through their match. Don’t Kiss the Bride is a gorgeous messy story about two people struggling with abandonment who find peace and solace in each other. Her hero is a high school graduate, construction owning, thirty-four-year-old male, and her heroine is an eighteen-year-old whose past has left serious marks on her mental health. Honestly, it feels like it shouldn’t work, but Cole has crafted a story that makes you turn the page for their happy ending.
There is a bent to Cole’s Don’t Kiss the Bride. Cole has created characters who feel different from other romantic heroes and heroines. Skylar suffers from a mental illness grounded in a little heard of eating disorder. This was created through her upbringing. I don’t want to share the specifics of that because Cole’s use of these mental health issues is what sets her book apart. Along with that is the age gap between her hero and heroine. When I read the blurb for her book, it instigated me to sign up for an ARC because I wanted to see how she would navigate it. To be honest, it seemed like it would be difficult to suspend my disbelief. Instead, she humanizes Jude and Skylar beyond their ages so well that it’s easy to believe in Jude and Skylar together. Her careful pacing of their journey, along with her formulation of their chemistry, allows you to accept it. You pine for these two to figure their stuff out because they need each other. They are, to borrow an oft-used term, two sides of the same coin, so together, they simply make sense.
Cole captured my heart with Don’t Kiss the Bride. Her care in developing her characters, throwing in insightful moments, and the pacing of her story woos you to her book. I had hoped to like it. What happened instead was a love affair for a book that feels fresh and different from your standard romance fare. There is a peace to Cole’s style, and it infiltrates your soul as Jude and Skylar find each other and their own slice of peace.
In love and romance,