Popular young adult novel writer Sarah Dessen employs common romance plot themes with the addition of a darker aspect taken from today’s headlines. 17-year-old Louna (named for her parents, Natalie and Lou), helps her mother in her very successful business as a wedding planner. Natalie is also assisted by her business partner William. William is gay, so there is nothing between them, but they are best friends and William acts as a godfather to Louna. Both Natalie and William have been single for many years, in part because the wedding business makes them very cynical about long-term prospects for romance.
As for Louna, she used to believe in true love, but after a heartbreaking event the year before, now she too joins Natalie and William in their cynical approach to happy endings, or the idea of meeting a true love “once and for all.” And she is not only cynical; she is afraid; love can mean loss.
Much of the story recounts the ups and downs of the wedding planning business, and it is fun to read about all the outrageous requests made by customers, mostly pertaining to decor, themes, and attendee management. But for one upcoming big event, Natalie is asked to go beyond the call of duty and employ Ambrose, the handsome but annoying son of the mother of the bride, in order to keep him out of the clients’ hair during the wedding planing. Natalie and William agree, and set Ambrose to work with Louna.
As it happens, Ambrose too has a cynical approach to relationships. Long-term means complicated; he just wants “a bunch of magical first nights and days.” Ambrose tells Louna: “Doesn’t sound bad, does it? All the upsides of dating, none of the down.”
What happens over the summer they work together is of course predictable. But the story has enough entertaining moments and appealing characters to make up for it.
Evaluation: This is a diverting story that has humor, romance, and enough “real life” to add some dimension to the plot.
Published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2017