A party planner extraordinaire, Katie Marcelli loves her big, boisterous family -- even when their chronic matchmaking drives her crazy! In the Marcelli household, fine wine and good food are as celebrated as true love, so when her eighteen-year-old sister announces her engagement, Katie promises her the perfect wedding.
There's only one hitch: the father of the groom, Zach Stryker, who is adamantly opposed to his son marrying so young. Now, despite her instant attraction to the handsome, arrogant attorney, Katie must approach with caution: Zach, who hired Katie for a major fundraiser, holds the fate of her business in his hands -- and how can she trust a man who is willing to break her sister's heart? It will take a passionate battle of wills to determine if wedding bells will ring for a Marcelli bride, and to unlock the deepest desires -- for family, love, and home -- inside a strong-willed man's heart.
This is Susan Mallery’s first book in her ‘Marcelli Sisters of Pleasure Road’ series.
The series is centered on four sisters; Francesca, Brenna, Mia and Katie and their Hacienda family home in California. The Marcelli estate is also a prosperous vineyard, and all four sisters feel pressure from their Grandfather Lorenzo to produce sons and a future heir for the wine company.
‘The Sparkling One’ is the first book in the series, and concerns middle sister, Katie. At the beginning of the book Katie, an events planner, is hired to host a swanky A-list party for a law firm. Her point-man on the project is divorce attorney, Zach Stryker. There’s an instant attraction between Zach and Katie… but things turn puzzling when Zach turns up at her family estate, with his 18-year-old son in tow who is engaged to youngest Marcelli sister, Mia.
As it turns out Zach is firmly against the wedding and hired Katie in order to convince her to break up the happy (and young) couple. What Zach didn’t plan on was falling for Katie in the process…
I’m pretty torn about this book. I liked it, but I also had a pretty big problem with it. I didn’t buy the romance. For one thing, Katie is pretty boring. Maybe it was middle sister syndrome, but I didn’t believe it when Zach kept waxing poetic about how different, wonderful, smart, funny and sexy she was. I didn’t see much evidence of this – in fact I found Katie paled in comparison to her sisters. Youngest sister, Mia, is full of life and charisma. Brenna is funny in the face of adversity, and her twin Francesca is a quirky enigma. Katie was just so ‘blah’.
I didn’t feel a whole lot about Zach either. Mallery talks a lot about what a hard-ass lawyer Zach is, and in his role as divorce attorney he maintains that he’s cynical about love. He really should have been more stoic and hard-assed than Mallery made him. I didn’t see much of a transformation from cynic to romantic, and by my reckoning he was pretty open-minded about finding love from the get-go.
Together Katie and Zach were a pretty mediocre couple. There isn’t a whole lot of sparkage, just a few ‘kinda sweet’ moments;
She grinned. “Zach, this is my grandfather’s house. You can’t possibly have sexual thoughts under this roof. If you do, your pride and joy will shrivel up to the size of a walnut.”What saved this book, and ensured I will keep reading the series was the family saga. Mallery beautifully sets up books for the other sisters by peppering ‘The Sparkling One’ with juicy tidbits about their lives and tragically stagnate love lives.
“That would be tragic for all of us.”
“I’m not going to say yes. You already think too highly of yourself.”
He smiled. “I’m not the one who was screaming that night.”
She ducked her head. “A gentleman would never bring that up.”
“I thought my bringing it up was the entire point.”
Her mouth twitched. “You’re evil.”
“I’m tempting. There’s a difference.”
In ‘The Sparkling One’, Brenna is hit with divorce papers from her husband of several years. She never saw the split coming, and is doubly wounded by her husband’s revealing he’s been having an affair and intends to marry the ‘bimbo’ the moment their divorce is settled.
Francesca was widowed at the tender age of 21 – and maintains that she’d prefer to be single than live through heartache ever again.
Mia is engaged in this book – but quickly learns that getting married at 18 comes with a string of problems, not least of which is dealing with the immaturity of your betrothed.
While I may not have been invested in the main romance of Katie and Zach, Mallery had me very interested in the bigger family saga. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series, if only to find out what happens to the other (more interesting) sisters.