My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Goodreads: When a wedding reenactment turns real, this cowgirl suddenly finds she's an accidental bride.
Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. Despite her hard work, she can't seem to keep her head above water-and now the bank is threatening to foreclose. She prays for a miracle, but the answer she receives is anything but.
Having agreed to play the bride in the Founders Day wedding reenactment, Shay is mortified to be greeted at the end of the aisle by none other than Travis McCoy, her high school sweetheart-the man who left her high and dry for fame and fortune on the Texas rodeo circuit.
Then the unthinkable happens. Thanks to a well-meaning busy body and an absent minded preacher, the wedding reenactment results in a legal marriage. But before Shay can say "annulment," Travis comes up with a crazy proposal. If she refuses his offer, she'll lose her home. But if she accepts, she may lose her heart.
Shay isn't sure if the recent events are God's will or just a preacher's blunder. Will trusting her heart to the man who once shattered it be the worst mistake of her life? Or could their marriage be the best accident that ever happened?
My take: I've already met Shay when I read (and loved) a previous book by Denise Hunter, featuring Abigail and Wade. Wade's and Shay's daughters are friends. It was fun to peek into Abigail's and Wade's life after the last book ended. But this story is Shay's.
Shay was stood up at the altar by Travis, her high school boyfriend, who left for the rodeo. By the time he figured he goofed, Shay had remarried. Now, 14 years later, Shay is divorced and her ex-husband has died. She's single parenting and running a ranch on fumes. It's about to go under when a Founder's Day re-enactment of a pioneering couple somehow becomes real as Shay and Travis are the proxies.
It's a fun concept, if a little unbelievable. I didn't mind the pretending it could happen. The problem I had was with the cantankerous Shay. The idea is that she's been through a lot of tough times and has learned by many experiences to not trust or count on a man but I found very little redeeming qualities about her. I liked Travis just fine but I did also have a small problem with keeping up with the quick shift of point of view.
The underlying message is one I loved; Galations 1:10 - who are we trying to please, man or God? Shay struggles with what other people think of her. This translates to her own daughter and Travis and Abigail are instrumental in helping her with this issue of pride.
It's a fun, quick read. I like Hunter's writing but I am much more drawn to Abigail's and Wade's story.