In The Reluctant Bride by Katherine Garbera, Risa and Monty had a whirlwind romance when she was living in Vegas and he was on leave from the Marines. Within a week they were engaged, planning to marry after he returns from his last deployment in the Middle East. When tragedy strikes for Risa and she has no comfort from Monty, then can't get a hold of him, she panics and flees Vegas.
When Monty returns from war with his own scars, his fiancee is no where to be found. He finally manages to find her in small town Marietta, where Risa now owns her own flower shop. Monty is angry, hurt and confused. Months later, Risa is still unable to cope with any of her emotions. She is unsettled and unsure, and scared to love in case she loses again - even though their engagement never truly ended. Neither of them are sure of where to go from here, if they even have a future together. Risa wants to be able to handle everything on her own, she doesn't want to lean on anyone. She has trouble expressing her emotions unless it's to run from them...and Monty doesn't want her to run again. They care for each other, but were they ever really in love? Can they start over, getting to know each other as they are now? Or will Risa run again and find Monty is tired of the chase?
Monty and Risa both have a lot of angst in their lives. Both of them have tragedy's to overcome before they can move on. To be honest I found Risa difficult to connect to with her reactions out of my realm of realism. She has a lot of inner conflict, and is having a hard time recognizing that she really is not alone. Nor is she the only person in The Reluctant Bride who has had upheaval and tragedy, but she is having a hard time seeing beyond her own state, not even acknowledging that her fiancee has been to war, and war takes it's toll. Her character has slow growth in The Reluctant Bride and the title is very well suited! Monty has no clue why his fiancee has run off, and when he finds her even he questions whether or not they can be together again. But the feelings he has for Risa don't let him walk away, and you really have to give him credit for sticking around as long as he does.
I didn't feel a lot of love between Monty and Risa, but I did feel caring. What I take away from The Reluctant Bride is that it doesn't make you any less of a person or any less independent to lean on someone, and I really hoped Risa could recognize this before it was too late.
Katherine gives us a fast paced, smoothly written story in The Reluctant Bride. If you like romance with a lot of angst and a hero/heroine trying to find his/her way you'll enjoy The Reluctant Bride.