I’ve said it before, 2022 is going to be a big year for the romance genre. The lineup is incredible, a tribute to the popularity of romance among readers. Alison Rose Greenberg’s latest book Bad Luck Bridesmaid may be one of the best stories we’ll read this year. With a relatable heroine, a funny yet relatable story, and the perfect amount of spice, romance fans will find much to love about this book.
Readers are introduced to Zoey, a woman with a curse. In ten years, she is appointed bridesmaid to three friends, none of whom ultimately make it down the aisle. Zoey is convinced her own attitude toward marriage (steadfastly against) has influenced each of her friends, making her a walking wedding plague. When her best friend Hannah announces that she is getting married, Zoey becomes determined to break her supposed curse and get her friend down the aisle. Throw in a steamy love story, the Irish countryside and a delicious enemy, the story has something for every single romance reader. Oh, and there’s a falcon.
Zoey is truly a hero for our time. She is such an incredibly relatable, messy woman who has chosen to focus on her career and friendships rather than on finding “the one”. In a world that still tells women we need to find our other half, as if we aren’t fully human on our own, this story is poignantly counter-cultural. Her decisions are questionable and she’s not always particularly likable, but readers are able to root for her every step of the way. This is a sign of the absolute best type of character that can be written. Her character is a win for Jewish representation, with her Hebrew letter tattoos and her standing up for herself against a would-be WASP-y mother-in-law.
Rylan, the main romantic interest of the book, is also an incredibly well-fleshed out character that readers accompany on a journey. He’s written as picture-perfect on paper, with no flaws and everything anyone could ever want in a romantic partner. And yet, by the end of the story, readers realize that actually, he’s very very far from ideal. He rebounds almost immediately when his long term relationship ends, and then promptly sleeps with his former girlfriend when presented the opportunity. Hardly the paragon of virtue and stability, it’s eye-opening for the reader to be asked to examine their own preconceived notions of what an ideal partner should look like.
The timeliness of Zoey’s Taylor Swift obsession adds such a depth to the story in light of the release of Red-Taylor’s Version. Zoey’s reliance on Swift’s Red album really cements the fact that she is like us in every way. Her journey through Swift’s discography, including Lover when in the throes of a romance of a lifetime, is exactly how Taylor Swift is meant to be listened to. Reading this, readers will hopefully be inspired to re-listen to Swift’s re-recordings, and not get too, too distracted hoping that we’ll get to listen to Speak Now – Taylor’s Version before the end of 2022.
What this book does even better than the romance (which it does very well), is its portrayal of friendship. So often, we are told friendships are lesser relationships than romantic ones, and that once in a romantic relationship women in particular are expected to downgrade forsake their friendships to “focus” on their partner. It was inspiring to see Zoey and Hannah especially, two polar opposite personalities, consistently look out for each other and support one another. They had to examine their own relationship through the story, and find the courage to tell each other uncomfortable but necessary truths. Their friendship was only made stronger through adversity. They were such a great example of one of the best relationships we can all hope to have in our own lives.
Although the ending may not work for everyone, I thought it was quite satisfying. Zoey is allowed to have gone on a journey putting everything she thought she believed about marriage under the microscope. She is allowed to remain true to herself while leaving the possibility open for love on her own terms. It’s aspirational, and extremely comforting to be reminded that being in a romantic relationship is not the be all and end all of the human experience. Bad Luck Bridesmaid is an entertaining read with an important message that is sure to resonate with so many.
Bad Luck Bridesmaid is available now.