PUBLISHERS WEEKLY STARRED REVIEW: "Farrell marries warmth with tongue-in-cheek wit in this marvelous romantic comedy."
An out-of-place single mother and a thrill-seeking widower collide in the Wedding Capital of the Midwest!
Natalie Castellano didn't have the wedded bliss experience typical of her hometown, but that won't stop her from ensuring this year's bridal festival goes off without a hitch. Even if it means she has to play nice with the man who broke her fairy tale.
World adventurer and reluctant local hero CJ Blue doesn't want to be in Bliss anymore than Natalie wants him here. But family obligations have brought him back, and now, Natalie is using every trick she has to rope him into helping save a tradition he'd rather forget.
Despite their rocky past, these two wounded souls have more in common than they expect. They've both loved and lost, they've both tried to move on, and now they've both locked up their hearts. But by joining forces for the sake of Bliss, they might find the courage to risk love one more time.
Blissed is a standalone romantic comedy. Be sure to check out the rest of the Misfit Brides series!
Blissed (CJ and Natalie)
Matched (Will and Lindsey)
Smittened (Mikey and Dahlia)
Sugared (Josh and Kimmie)
Merried (Max and Merry)
And for more fun from Jamie Farrell, check out the Officers' Ex-Wives Club series!
Southern Fried Blues (Jackson and Anna Grace)
Moonshine & Magnolias (Zack and Shelby)
And sign up for Jamie Farrell's newsletter to stay up to date with Jamie's latest releases! www.JamieFarrellBooks.com
Note: BLISSED was previously published as THE HUSBAND GAMES.
Farrell (Mr. Good Enough) marries warmth with tongue-in-cheek wit in this marvelous romantic comedy, first in the Misfit Brides of Bliss contemporary series. Natalie Castellano, who just took over the Bliss Bridal boutique after her mother's death, is a divorc e a cardinal sin in the love-obsessed town of Bliss, Ill., the "Most Married-est Town on Earth." The all-powerful chair of the Knot Festival shuns Natalie, and her business is suffering. CJ Blue, still shaken four years after his wife's death in combat, reluctantly returns to Bliss for his sister's wedding, desperately trying not to get talked into competing in the town's Husband Games. Yet all of his good intentions fly out the window when he meets Natalie in a darkened confessional. Natalie and CJ's journey toward love, filled with scenes of high hilarity and vivid emotion, resonates with warmth and realism. A cast of quirky characters adds just the perfect touch to a heartwarming comedy of errors. (BookLife)
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Stars: Overall 4 Narration 5 Story 3
Bliss is a small Illinois town, dubbing itself the “Bridal Capital” of the Midwest. So much so that Main Street is The Aisle, and a huge annual celebration, the Husband Games, is the highlight of the social year, set to promote all things married and wedding.
Natalie is back in Bliss, after a horrendous marriage, and is now running her late mother’s bridal shop (one of six in town). Because the Husband Games were important to her mother, she is willing to go to great lengths to make this, the 50th anniversary of the games the best ever in her memory. If only.
CJ is a native boy, but has traded in the small town in favor of adrenaline after the death of his wife during her deployment. He’s not at all interested in anything to do with the ‘games’ or any person trying to push him that way.
The characters: complete with a totally distasteful “Queen General” who spends her life upbraiding, downgrading and bullying everyone into towing her line. Noah, an adorable and scene stealing four year old, son of Natalie. Kimmie, known for her strange dreams and proclamations of the future and you can’t forget CJ’s family – all of them named for herbs.....
The plot – a bit of traditional romance, perhaps a few too many smart-funny moments that distracted from Natalie and CJ and their steps toward a relationship. They both have plenty to overcome after their marriages ended, and with Natalie’s struggles to stand up for herself and speak her own mind, it was frustrating at times. All of the good and bad in a small town was highlighted here, particularly with the long-held reputations from childhood combined with the “you are from here so this must be important to you” attitudes. A few moments of unrealistic situations were balanced by the actual laugh out loud moments, if perhaps overshadowing the lack of solid ‘grab onto this’ moments of development and discovery.
Narration from Karen White was a highlight, she manages to not go headlong into the slapstick moments that appeared without losing the humor and often wry self-depreciating tone from Natalie. Clear and present, she gives the humor a moment to shine, while trying to bring the best from the characters at all moments.
An interesting start to a series, sure to please those who want a lighter and often sillier listen.
I received an audiobook copy of the title from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Sheer Joy and Hilarity
I'm going to go all fangirl on Ms Farrell and say that she's been added to my "Favorite Authors" list and that I can't read her books quickly enough. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much throughout an ENTIRE book. The witty, smart, and sharp banter and overall dialogue captured my attention from the first page and kept me riveted the entire story...I'd also like to mention here that Ms Farrell's books are not skimpy reads, with 300+ pages there is so much to completely immerse and loose yourself in and for hours.
This author's character imagery was another factor that sold me on her writing. Her characters literally come to life through her words and jump off the pages with their personalities. It was so easy becoming emotionally invested in all the characters...this includes the secondary ones. There is one scene during the games where C. J. and Natalie are "dancing" their way through the sprinklers that was absolutely priceless. In my mind, it was so easy picturing him leading her through the course so she doesn't get wet. They are the quintessential strong personalities couple who work off each other quite nicely.
I now find myself catching up in the series by reading the remaining books, and then waiting for Kimmie's story in book four.
Funny, sexy, sassy ... fabulous romance!
Wow, what an emotional roller coaster. It probably didn't help that I read this on Mother's Day and I lost my Mother 12 years ago. Natalie is struggling with the loss of her Mom, it's been 6 months and she is trying to carry on in her footsteps, fulfilling her Mom's last project. The Golden Husband Games for Bliss. Of course, Natalie hasn't had an easy road. She is a divorcee in the "Most Married-est Town" so the Queen General makes it her mission to make her life miserable, ensuring she feels like an outcast. The hard part is that all Natalie has ever dreamed about doing is following her in Mother's footsteps as Chair of the Husband Games committee so this just leads Natalie to feeling like a complete an utter failure. CJ Blue is a past winner of the Husband Games and is now a revered widower after his wife died serving in the Air Force. Sadly, CJ is lost, seeking crazy adventures around the world trying to bury his guilt for the struggles in his marriage, he feels responsible for Serena going to war and losing her life. CJ and Natalie had a moment at that infamous Husband Games 5 years ago and it became the final straw sending her husband away for good. When they cross paths again, Natalie just sees CJ as the destroyer of his marriage. CJ finds a strong, independent, courageous woman that scares the crap out of him. This road they go down to find themselves and maybe a relationship is rocky, bumpy and charming. Factor in 4 year old Noah, Natalie's son and scene stealer, well, and I don't know how anyone would be able to resist. Along the way we meet a strong cast of characters that are there to support Natalie and CJ giving this story amazing depth. I truly enjoyed my afternoon buried in Blissed and am still shocked that a mother would name all 13 children after spices. Crazy!