Bed of Roses (Bride Quartet)

Bed of Roses: Book Two in the Bride Quartet - Nora Roberts This is the kind of novel I love in the spectrum of romance. I liked the first book in the Bride Quartet series by Nora Roberts (Vision in White), but I actually loved the character chemistry between Emma and Jack much more in this book. I think the elements in this book came across much stronger than the first.If there's something to be said about Nora Roberts' work in "Bed of Roses", she's incredibly comfortable with the characterization and pacing within the novel. It's apparent as she carefully distinguishes each of the women of Vows - Mac, Emma, Laurel and Parker - with their own strong, unique personalities without forcing it and letting the dialogue and interactions speak for themselves. She blends light humor with a very keen awareness of the trials and tribulations they have with respect to their work.Surprisingly - I noted a lot of people said they had trouble with the lingo for this series, but I had no such problem. If one pays attention to the settings and the characterization, most - if not all - of the abbreviations can be deduced from context clues and noting the character interactions in each scene. Maybe I pay more attention to it than most because I can spot these things, but I found it, overall, easy to follow once I noted the context. She keeps up with it well.Getting to the plot: Emma is the resident florist of the Vows organization who happens to find herself mutually attracted to Jack, an architect that helps with Vows and is a long time friend of the group. Of course, Emma and Jack's relationship has its share of reactions among the group, creating some girly squeals of delight, and some sticky conflicts along the way as well. Emma and Jack have their own insecurities and issues with love to come to terms with, and the way Roberts approaches it is illuminating. To be quite honest, however, this is very much a slice of life romance if I've ever read one - meaning it's definitely not a book that all people will love. If you want all out catfights, devious scandals, friends sleeping within three way love triangles - sorry, but this isn't a book for you. Not saying that to be catty - I'm serious, it's not a book for you - you wouldn't get that much out of it. I'm familiar with some of Roberts' other works, and there is far more conflict to be had in some of her stories, but here - it relies more on the humor, internal issues, and romantic interaction than external confrontations at every turn, so keep that in mind.Roberts has her own way of weaving drama within a story that has its spurts of realism and romantic interactions that should satiate those who want a very sweet romance story to come across. I didn't mind that at all reading through it, and its easily digested.The only gripe that I have with the book, and this goes hand in hand with the progression of the plot, is that it takes its time getting to each point of conflict, and I see that was an issue for many coming into this book series. There is definite conflict in spurts here, but it doesn't quite jump out as much as it could have, and there are definitely some slower moments in this story. I'm not talking about the romance between Jack and Emma, because that's well done - I'm talking more in the events of the weddings that they plan. That's a part of the development of the atmosphere, and I can see where it is necessary, but it does take a bit too much time in spurts. At the very least, I see what she did with it, and appreciated it. Granted, it's predictable, but one could argue that it's not necessarily about the end as it is the journey getting there.Overall, I'm not going to fib, I loved this story - but I also recognize the flaws it has and I weigh them in fair measure within the book. There were times I had to put the book down, come away from it a bit, and then pick it back up later to keep the momentum going - that's the type of book it is. Still, I would say it's one of my favorite romances that I've read this year, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series to see what she does with the remaining characters in the series.Contrary to what most have said about the audiobook, I thought the narrator carried it very well, much better even than the narrator for the first book. Her Jack was oddly husky, but I adapted to it as the narration went forward.Overall score: 3.5/5