“I Do-Over: Confessions of a Recalcitrant Bridesmaid” by Michele Riccio

I Do-Over: Confessions of a Recalcitrant Bridesmaid

Publication Date: January 1, 2013

Synopsis: Grace Douglas has a secret crush on Jon, the boy next door. The problem is: at thirty-six she’s well past the age of secret crushes, her father insists Jon is her brother (by dint of his marriage to Jon’s mother), and Jon is nothing more than brotherly when he spends the night in her hotel room.  Then a meddling fortuneteller convinces Grace’s half-sister, Kitty, she needs to re-stage her recent wedding – and get it right this time – or suffer the consequences. Dodging the bullets of a mysterious, if incompetent, stalker and fending off Heraldo, co-worker without a work ethic, are a piece of wedding cake for Grace – compared to being Kitty’s maid of honor. Grace has to find a way out. Or be seen by the man she loves – wearing a bridesmaid gown.

January 4, 2013 review by Carol Kean
Very, very few writers make me laugh out loud, but Michele Riccio does, which puts her in the company of Dave Berry, which is heady praise, indeed, in my book.

The cover photo captures my favorite scene: after a tortuous night of wearing a ghastly bridesmaid dress, after all the photo ops and catered food, Grace is a sucker for a man bearing the gift of….greasy fast food. Ahh, the man knows her. Stepbrother Jon, whose sister Kitty is also Grace’s half-sister. He’s younger than Grace. His mother, Grace’s stepmother, is so awful, Grace can only think of her as Kitty’s Mother. (Call her Mom? Impossible.) How could Grace entertain silly, top-secret fantasies of marrying her Not-Brother, knowing her awful stepmother, aka “Kitty’s Mother,” would become her mother-in-law? And what could Jon possibly see in her – a big sister who is frankly not a spring chicken or the classic beauty a bride should be?

Jon does, as a matter of fact, see something in Grace. Whether he’d admit it to Grace or act on it, though, is another story. No, wait a minute — it’s *this* story! And what a great story it is!

The bullets that narrowly miss Grace are a page-turning aside in this beautiful novel. Of course I wonder who the shooter is. Of course I’d keep turning pages to find out. But of much greater interest is the way Jon and Grace sort out their feelings and face them (or not), and how Dad will react. Wait a minute. Now I can’t recall, offhand, why Grace’s dad is not Jon’s dad too, if Jon’s mother is Grace’s stepmother. There were so many divorces, Jon’s mother is just another ex-wife of Grace’s dad; Jon had a different father from his mother’s previous marriage–aarrgh! Sadly, real life is exactly this complicated. And no writer gets it down on paper more capably and humorously than Michele Riccio.

The most agonizing part of this novel is the “I Do” over again. I myself have an unpleasant, recurring dream that I must stage my wedding all over again. I’m trying on the dress (of course it no longer fits) and worrying about caterers and tables, invitations and guests, and wondering who on earth would even want to attend a re-enactment of my wedding. It’s a horrible dream. In real life, my sister divorced and remarried her husband, but my dream precedes that event. I wince and cringe at the idea of staging a big production like a wedding all over again because the bride fears she “got it wrong” the first time and will be doomed (like her oft-divorced mother?) if she doesn’t get the ceremony right. Our heroine Grace not only has to try on more bridesmaid dresses, she has to wear one again and go through the drama of Kitty’s wedding AGAIN. Could Stephen King invent a plot more chilling than this?

Grace’s awful boss and co-worker are also all-too-true elements in this story. Don’t we all know someone who is used, blamed and exploited in the workplace while another employee gets all the credit in spite of his incompetence? This part of the novel is as funny and true as a Dilbert cartoon.

I like this novel so much, I bought a copy for a friend – and that’s another rare response (for me) to a novel.

Even if you hate chic lit or women’s fiction (a category I tend to avoid), “I Do Over” is leagues above the usual offerings in this genre. I heartily and sincerely endorse it.

About carolkean

novelist, reviewer, editor, book critic for Liberty Island and Perihelion Science Fiction; native prairie/guerilla gardener; champion of liberty, indie authors & underdogs; one of the top two reviewers in Editors &Preditors Poll 2015; Amazon Vine, NetGalley Top Reviewer
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