In Almost a Bride by Sarah Mayberry, Tara has vowed for her entire adult life not to end up like her mother. Tara's father left his family when she was 13, and her mother was completely devastated, never really getting over it. Tara has no intention of ever letting herself be set up for such devastation by a man. In her quest for relationships, she chooses safely. At least she thinks she does, until her safe fiancee turns out not to be Mr. Upstanding after all when he's caught cheating on her with one of his students.
Initially Tara is devastated, but I love, love that she doesn't let this break her. Of course she is hurt and angry, but after a day or two of misery, she realizes it's only herself she's been trying to fool. The break up of her relationship frees the inner Tara, she finally starts to open up and do things she's always wanted to do but never has. One of them might just be Reid.
Reid is her partner on the police force. He's only temporarily in Marietta to help his parent's out on their orchard. He definitely is not staying forever, he never stays anywhere for too long. Since the day Reid and Tara met though, there has been an unacknowledged spark between them, almost a forbidden chemistry they wouldn't act on. Now there is no stopping them. Tara knows whatever they have will only be temporary, but she has to know how things would be between her and Reid. They already know each other very well, maybe it's time to take things to the next level...
Can they do that though and be ok when Reid leaves? Being together changes a lot of things for both of them.
Almost a Bride could almost be called a friends to lovers romance. Tara and Reid have always been friends, but there has also always been that underlying current between them that they've been ignoring up until now. I really enjoyed the realism of their situation and their relationship with not only each other but with their families. Sarah manages to bring Tara and Reid right to life in Almost a Bride! Tara and Reid are both strong, mature characters who have experienced life and are using those experiences in a positive way. They are a very easy couple to like and relate to!
I also liked how Sarah also tells some of Almost a Bride from Reid's point of view. It's fun to watch their relationship grow and evolve from 2 perspectives.
Some of the characters in Almost a Bride you will recognize from the first 2 Montana Born Brides books. I liked seeing Tara and her sister Scarlett interact, the relationship they had and how it's changing. You will definitely not be lost if you read Almost a Bride as a stand alone though, it does stand very well all by itself.
If you are a romance reader looking for a romance with an engaging couple with great chemistry and a lasting impression, I'd highly recommend Almost a Bride. It's a novella of the perfect length for the story to be told.