Cate Padgett is a perpetual bridesmaid. She’s done the deed so often that she can keep a cool head when the bride’s drunk ex-boyfriend shows up at the ceremony. She’s endured Vegas stripper bachelorette parties and hideous bridesmaid pantsuits. She even shells out hundreds of dollars on a teacher’s salary while the brides demand she wear outrageously expensive shoes and precise nail polish.
Basically, one could say Cate has done everything in a wedding except get married herself. Paul, her boyfriend of one year, travels often for work so the couple hasn’t quite developed a serious relationship. At this rate, Cate just may be Always the Bridesmaid.
Whitney Lyles’ debut novel is a tribute to wedding horror stories. Cate is a nice woman and a good friend who willingly subjects herself to countless bridal showers and wedding hysterics for those she loves. Readers will relate to several of the amusing nuptial scenes.
Cate’s own love life drags in Always the Bridesmaid. The book claims she’s “unwilling to settle down.” Actually, settling is all she does with Paul in a one-dimensional relationship. High school buddy Ethan lends support when Cate is down, but can’t get her to see him as more than a friend. Ethan is the most well rounded character in the bunch. It would have been nice to see him stir the pot a little and have a bigger impact on events earlier in the novel.
Always the Bridesmaid is a light, fun read. Lyles treads the waters she knows: unforgettable and entirely forgettable wedding memories. The triumph and heartbreak of love aren’t really explored, keeping the book from relating to readers on a deeper level. Though the obvious epilogue wasn’t even considered, the simple ending should please hopeless romantics.