The Accidental Bride
By Denise Hunter

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

When I picked up this book, from looking at the title, I expected a prairie western. A modern day book based in the state of MT surprised me.
Shay has been abandoned by love. She has pretty much given up on herself as unlovable. Abandoned by her first husband to be at the altar, in a wedding dress and the second one after being married for a while and giving her a daughter, she had conceded that nothing would go right in life for her. Wiry, stubborn and hardheaded, Shay is determined to make a go of life, in spite of the difficulties.
Boy, did she have the difficulties! Foreclosure, broken limbs, and no money to pay the bills were just a few…oh, and toss in an accidental husband. How does that happen? This book will keep you reading as you feel the pain in her heart from dealing with abandonment issues. Can God do a work to heal her heart and open her eyes to what true love really is?
I especially enjoyed her 12-year-old daughter’s character; it was neat how she showed how parenting could be hard sometimes. I don’t mean just as a single parent, but hard to cope with dealing with your own past hurts and not projecting them onto your child. I also loved the tidbits of past book characters thrown in as well! I was glad to read the authors note at the back of the book, on how she took some liberties with writing the novel. It made me respect her more as an author for sharing that with us. The only thing I didn’t enjoy in this book was I felt it had a little too much detail of their love life for the type of book it was. -Martha

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

 Thomas Nelson (January 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to 
Audra Jennings – The B&B Media Group –  for sending me a review copy.***


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Visit the author’s website.


Shay Brandenberger has built her entire life on the shifting sands of what others think. Constantly seeking the approval of others, she has struggled through a rocky childhood, a failed marriage and single parenthood. Now it looks like she’s losing the ranch that has been in her family for three generations, a surefire way to mark her as a failure in the eyes of the community. When Travis McCoy, the high school sweetheart who very publicly broke her heart fifteen years before, returns to Moose Creek, she is less than pleased. Not only does his re-appearance dredge up a deluge of painful memories, it also reminds everyone in town that it was he who left her, not the other way around. To make matters worse, Shay and Travis are unwittingly paired to play bride and groom in the annual Founder’s Day wedding re-enactment where, much to her chagrin, she discovers he still has the power to take her breath away. 

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595548025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595548023


The bell above the diner’s door jingled
and—despite her most valiant effort—Shay Brandenberger’s eyes darted toward the
entry. An unfamiliar couple entered—tourists. She could tell by their khaki
Eddie Bauer vests and spanking-new hiking boots. Look out, Yellowstone.
When her heart rate returned to normal,
she checked her watch and took a sip of coffee. Five minutes till she met Miss
Lucy at the Doll House, forty till she met John Oakley at the bank. What if he
said no? What would they do then?
“Mom . . . Earth to Mom . . .” Olivia
waved her hand too close to Shay’s face, her brown eyes widening.
“Sorry, hon.” The one bright moment of
her Saturday was breakfast with her daughter, and she couldn’t enjoy it for the
dread. “What were you saying?”
Olivia set her fork on her
pancake-sticky plate and heaved a sigh worthy of her twelve-year-old self.
“Never mind.” She bounced across the vinyl bench, her thick brown ponytail
swinging. “I’m going to meet Maddy.”
“Right back here at noon,” Shay called,
but Olivia was out the door with the flick of her hand.
The diner buzzed with idle chatter.
Silverware clattered and scraped, and the savory smell of bacon and fried eggs
unsettled her stomach. She took a sip of the strong brew from the fat rim of
her mug.
The bell jingled again. I will not look. I will
not look. I will not—
The server appeared at her booth, a new
girl, and gathered Olivia’s dishes. “On the house today.”
Shay set down her mug, bristling. “Why?”
The woman shrugged. “Boss’s orders,” she
said, then made off with the dirty dishes.
From the rectangular kitchen window,
Mabel Franklin gave Shay a pointed look.
So Shay had helped the couple with their
foal the week before. It was the neighborly thing to do.
Fine. She gave a reluctant smile and a
wave. She pulled her wallet from her purse, counted out the tip, and dragged
herself from the booth, remembering her daughter’s bouncy exit. Lately her
thirty-two years pressed down on her body like a two-ton boulder.
She opened the diner’s door and peeked
both ways before exiting the Tin Roof and turning toward the Doll House. She
was only checking sidewalk traffic, not hiding. Nope, she wasn’t hiding from
anyone. The boardwalks were busy on Saturdays. That was why she hadn’t come to
town for two weeks. Why their pantry was emptier than a water trough at high
She hurried three shops down and slipped
into the cool, welcoming air of Miss Lucy’s shop.
“ ’Morning, Miss Lucy.”
“ ’Morning, dear.” The elderly woman, in
the middle of helping a customer, called over her rounded shoulder, “It’s in
the back.” Miss Lucy’s brown eyes were big as buckeyes behind her thick
glasses, and her white curls glowed under the spotlights.
“Okeydoke.” Shay forced her feet toward
the storeroom.
A musty smell assaulted her as she
entered the back room and flipped on the overhead fluorescents. She scanned the
boxes of doll parts and skeins of yarn until she found what she was looking
for. She approached the box, lifted the lid, and parted the tissue.
The wedding gown had been carefully
folded and tucked away. Shay ran her fingers over the delicate lace and pearls.
Must’ve been crisp white in its day, but time had cast a long shadow over it.
Time had a way of doing that.
Her fingers lingered on the thin fabric.
She remembered another time, another dress. A simple white one that hung on her
young shoulders, just skimmed the cement of the courthouse steps. The ache that
squeezed her heart had faded with time, but it was there all the same. Would it
ever go away?
Shaking her head, Shay turned back to
the task at hand. The gown seemed too pretty, too fragile to disturb.
Oh well. She’d promised.
She pulled it out and draped it over the
box, then shimmied from her jeans. When she was down to the bare necessities,
she stepped carefully into the gown. She eased it over her narrow hips and slid
her arms into the long sleeves. The neckline was modest, the gathered skirt
fuller than anything she ever wore. Here in the air-conditioning it was fine,
but she would swelter next Saturday.
Leaving the button-up back gaping, she
hitched the skirt to the top of her cowboy boots and entered the store.
Miss Lucy was ushering the customer out
the door. When she turned, she stopped, her old-lady shoes squeaking on the
linoleum. “Land sakes.”
Shay took two steps forward and dropped
the skirt. It fell to the floor with a whoosh.
“Fits like a glove,” Miss Lucy said.
“And with some low heels it’ll be the perfect length.”
Shay didn’t even own heels. “My boots’ll
have to do. Button the back?”
Miss Lucy waddled forward, turned Shay
toward a small wall mirror flecked with time, and began working the tiny pearl
Shay’s breath caught at her image. She
forced its release, then frowned. Wedding gowns were bad luck. She’d sworn
she’d never wear another. If someone had told her yesterday she’d be wearing
this thing today, she’d have said they were one straw short of a bale.
Miss Lucy moved up to the buttons
between her shoulders, and Shay lifted her hair. The dress did fit, clinging to
her torso like it was made for her, wouldn’t you know. Even the color
complemented her olive skin.
Still, there was that whole bad luck
And what would everyone think of Shay
Brandenberger wearing this valuable piece of Moose Creek heritage? A white
wedding gown, no less. If she didn’t have the approval of her closest friends
and neighbors, what did she have? Not much, to her thinking.
She wanted to cut and run. Wanted to
shimmy right out of the dress, tuck it into that box in the storeroom, slip
back into her Levi’s and plaid button-up, and go back to her ranch where she
could hole up for the next six months.
She checked the time and wished Miss
Lucy had nimbler fingers. Of all days to do this, a Saturday, when everyone
with two legs was in town. And she still had that infernal meeting with John
Please, God, I can’t lose our home . . .
“I’m obliged to you, dear. I completely
forgot Jessie was going out of town.”
“No problem.”
“Baloney. You’d rather be knee-deep in
cow dung.” The woman’s marionette lines at the sides of her mouth deepened.
“It’s one hour of my life.” A pittance,
after all Miss Lucy had done for her.
Miss Lucy finished buttoning, and Shay
dropped her hair and smoothed the delicate lace at the cuffs.
“Well, bless you for being willing. God
is smiling down on you today for your kindness.”
Shay doubted God really cared one way or
another. It was her neighbors she worried about.
“Beautiful, just beautiful. You’ll be
the talk of the town on Founders Day.”
“No doubt.” Everyone in Moose Creek
would be thinking about the last time she’d worn a wedding gown. And the time
before that.
Especially the time before that.
Third time’s a charm, Shay thought, the corner of her lip
turning up.
“Stop fretting,” Miss Lucy said,
squeezing her shoulders. “You look quite fetching, like the gown was made for
you. I won’t have to make a single alteration. Why, it fits you better than it
ever did Jessie—don’t you tell her I said so.”
Shay tilted her head. Maybe Miss Lucy
was right. The dress did make the most of her figure. And she had as much right
to wear it as anyone. Maybe more—she was born and raised here, after all. It
was just a silly old reenactment anyway. No one cared who the bride and groom
The bell jingled as the door opened
behind her. She glanced in the mirror, over her shoulder, where a hulking
silhouette filled the shop’s doorway. There was something familiar in the set
of the man’s broad shoulders, in the slow way he reached up and removed his
The sight of him constricted her rib
cage, squeezed the air from her lungs as if she were wearing a corset. But she
wasn’t wearing a corset. She was wearing a wedding gown. Just as she had been
the last time she’d set eyes on Travis McCoy.

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