Get swept down the aisle with The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter. This book is a modern-day story set in Montana about a girl who owns a failing ranch and her high school sweetheart Travis McCoy, a rodeo rider.
Shay lives on her ranch with her twelve year old daughter Olivia. The ranch is failing and the banker is trying to get it from Shay. To celebrate Founder's Day, a holiday celebrating the founding of their small town, Shay is to participate in a re-enactment of the wedding of the couple who started the town. She’s playing the bride. The groom is supposed to be played by the boyfriend of one of the snottiest girls, who is mad that her boyfriend is playing in a wedding and she’s not the bride.
So anyway, Shay goes to her friend Miss Lucy's shop to try on the town's special old wedding dress that she is to wear in the play. She puts it on in the back room and comes out to the shop to let Miss Lucy do any alterations. It fits so beautifully; Miss Lucy coos and ahhs over it. Shay, meanwhile, is thinking of her past. Travis McCoy, her high school sweetheart, and herself were going to the courthouse to elope when he left her on the courthouse steps and winds up in Texas as a rodeo star. Shay, since she has not seen him since then - fourteen years past- thinks bitterly towards him and how he dumped her for the rodeo. In those fourteen years, Shay got married and had Olivia. That husband left her also, and died a short time later in another state. Shay and Olivia were devastated.
So now, Shay is in Miss Lucy's shop, with a wedding dress for the Founder's Day play on, when none other than Travis McCoy himself walks in the door.
Travis is shocked to see Shay in Miss Lucy's shop, and even more so to see her in a wedding dress. Sure, he had heard of her late husband and how he died and how Shay was dating again, but he did not think she was already getting married again. He remembers how he kissed Shay in her parents' barn late one night on a dare, and has come to realize over the fourteen years that they were apart what a mistake it was to leave Shay behind and is upset to think that she is getting married to someone other than him. But judging from the hate shooting from her eyes, they were never meant to be.
Miss Lucy, an eccentric older lady, decides it would be wonderful for Travis to play the groom in the Founder's Day play. She does a little meddling and gets him the part.
Shay walks down the aisle for the play, expecting to see the boyfriend of one of the meaner girls, and is shocked to see Travis McCoy standing there. She quickly overcomes her shock and turns to anger. Her anger turns back to surprise when Travis breaks the rules of kissing the bride on the cheek for the play and kisses her on the mouth instead. Shay notes that he is still an amazing kisser and that nothing has changed since that night in the barn, but quickly pushes him off.
Travis discovers a few days later that someone found his and Shay's marriage certificate that was never used fourteen years earlier and that it was activated during the Founder's Day play. In other words, he and Shay are officially married.
Shay is horrified when Travis tells her that they are married. She thinks back to when he hurt her and almost demands for an annulment when Travis comes up with an idea that her failing ranch forces her to accept-to allow Travis to stay at the ranch for five months and help Shay get her ranch back in order.
Thank you so much to Net Galley and Thomas Nelson publishers for letting me review this book! I loved it.