The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter

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.

    My Review:

    Shay Bradenburder couldn't believe she had agreed to be the bride in the Founder's Day reenactment, but Miss Lucy had asked and she's said yes.  Just a little while in a wedding dress and it would be over!  Then she could get back to her single-mom-ranch-owner life where the struggles were of keeping up with the chores, the bills and providing for her daughter are overwhelming.

    Travis McCoy is back in town.  He left 14 years earlier after leaving his high-school sweetheart on the courthouse steps in her wedding gown.  He had chased his dream and even though he had done well on the rodeo circuit, he regretted leaving Shay.  When his parents call and ask him to come home to take care of their spread while they go on a mission trip, he feels like it's an answered pray at a second chance.

    Miss Lucy is a old romantic.  She knows that Shay and Travis belong together, so she decides to give a little push... Shay has agreed to be the bride in the reenactment, but now she has to find a new groom since the original one's girlfriend is too jealous to allow him to participate.

    The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter is a lovely story of love, betrayal, loss, forgiveness and redemption.  It's a lovely story to relax and read in a day.

    An Interview with the Author:

    In the interview below, Denise Hunter shares more about her latest release.

    Q: In The Accidental Bride, your main character, Shay is continually concerned with what others might think. Worrying about the opinions of others is a common malady in today’s society. What made you decide to write about it?

    As you say, it’s so common to be worried about what others think of us. I love that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” So true! Shay needed to realize that it’s God’s opinion that really matters. When we focus on pleasing people, we tend to make poor decisions.

    Q: This isn’t your first novel based on the cowboy lifestyle. What drew you to this particular lifestyle as the backdrop for your writing?

    I’m drawn to the rugged appeal of the cowboy lifestyle. Even though I live in a city, I’m a country girl at heart, and I especially love the mountains; that’s why I was drawn to Montana for this series. There’s something simple and beautiful about living off the land that I think appeals to readers right now. Things are tough for so many people—and though the cowboy lifestyle is a hard one—it’s also very organic, a back to our roots kind of thing.

    Q: The premise of The Accidental Bride is both interesting and unique. What inspired your decision to involve your hero and heroine in an “accidental” marriage?

    I was watching a TV movie in which the actors were getting married, and I wondered, “What if the actor playing the preacher was an ordained minister? Would the couple be legally married?” Turns out, it’s not quite that simple to become accidentally married. There’s the matter of a marriage license that the pastor has to sign and mail to the proper government agency. So the good news is, it’s not likely to happen to you or anyone you know. But it sure was fun instigating such an event in a novel!

    Q: Before she could forgive him, Travis had to rebuild Shay’s trust. Is this a necessary step, or do you believe we should forgive even those who may never be trustworthy again?

    Trust and forgiveness are two different things. Forgiveness is something God commands us to do—regardless of circumstances like whether or not the offender is apologetic or has changed, etc.

    Trust is different; it’s earned. And unfortunately, it takes a long time to build trust and only one bad decision to wreck it. We forgive the offender, but if he or she doesn’t change, we aren’t required to trust the person again. It’s the offender’s responsibility—if he or she wants to be trusted again—to earn back that trust.

    Q: As an award-winning romance novelist you are, no-doubt, a role model for many would-be writers. What advice would you give to those who dream of one day being published? What’s an absolute must for a great romance?

    • First of all, I recommend aspiring writers to study and practice. Writing is a craft to be honed, and no matter how much natural talent you have, it takes both of those things to become a good writer.
    • Also, write the book you want to read. If you want to read that kind of book, there will be others who want to read it too.
    • Study the market, not so that you can jump on every trend, but so that you know how your story fits into the market.
    • Join a writers group so you can meet other writers—iron sharpens iron.
    • Once you have a marketable manuscript, go to conferences. The American Christian Writers Conference is the best out there in my opinion ( At conferences, you will learn from some of the best in the industry and get a chance to pitch your work to agents and editors.
    • E-publishing is becoming huge, but don’t put a sub-par manuscript out there where it will only flounder. Hone the craft, write the best story you can, and learn to re-write. Then hire an editor. Every published author has one for a reason!
    • Getting published can be a long, uphill climb, but persistence pays off.

    Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of eighteen romance novels, including The Convenient Groom,Surrender BayDriftwood Lane and the first book in the Big Sky Series, A Cowboy’s Touch. Struck by the brevity of life following her grandfather’s passing, Denise began writing in 1996. As a young stay-at-home mom she used the brief time while her children were napping each day to pursue her dream of being a writer. Two years later her first novel was published. She then continued her naptime writing schedule to complete four more novels. Today she encourages other young mothers to pursue their writing dreams, pointing out that writing only one page a day for a year will result in a completed manuscript. Since beginning her career, Hunter’s work has earned her the Holt Medallion Award, the Reader’s Choice Award and the Foreword Book of the Year Award. She has also been a RITA finalist. Hunter lives in Indiana with her husband and their three teenaged sons. Along with writing and spending time with her family, she enjoys reading, traveling and playing drums for her church’s worship team.