A Lowcountry Bride is a sweet, charming romance for summer

A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams. Image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers
A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams. Image courtesy HarperCollins Publishers /

As summer spreads out before us – a strange, awkward summer where we’re trying to recalibrate what our lives will look like once again, but summer nonetheless – many readers naturally turn to fluffy, easy romances. Stories where the happy endings are guaranteed, heroines can really have it all, and the highest-stakes stress you’ll encounter is the multi-chapter turn where it looks like our favorite couple might not work it out. It’s escapism in its best, purest form.

Preslaysa Williams’s A Lowcountry Bride ticks all these boxes – and then some. A sweet, charming love story thats’ perfect for poolside reading and patio time, this is a romance that’s as simple and easy as a Southern summer day.

Maya Jackson has always wanted to be a wedding dress designer. And not just any kind of dresses, either – she’s purposeful about incorporating her own personal style and cultural history into every aspect of her work, from the stitches she uses to the unexpected pops of color. Unfortunately, her unique style isn’t always appreciated by her boss Laura Whitcomb, big-name NYC designer of popular mass-produced bridal lines. But Maya, who has sickle cell and fears losing her life before she’s accomplished her dreams of success, suffers through working for a woman that not only doesn’t understand her vision but who actively denigrates it.

Everything changes when Maya’s father breaks his hip, forcing her to head home to Charleston, South Carolina, to help care for him. On a leave of absence from work, she takes a part-time job at the first Black-owned wedding boutique in Charleston in order to make ends meet. (And cover the rent on the New York apartment she left behind.) There, she meets owner Derek Sullivan, a sweet if somewhat dull widower with a twelve-year-old daughter and some serious emotional scarring that the novel doesn’t seem to want to poke at too closely.

Derek is struggling to keep the business – which he inherited from his mother, a pillar of the Charleston Black community – afloat, and though he means well he seems to have little in the way of business acumen or knowledge of the bridal industry. (Or brides, at all. To put it bluntly: He’s really bad at this.)

Naturally, Maya’s love of design and knowledge of the bridal business breathe new life into the shop and allow her to see the unfiltered reactions of others to her original work. As she slowly learns to trust the authenticity of her vision, she begins to question what she truly wants her life to look like – and where she wants it to take place.

There’s an unfortunate lack of depth to some aspects of this story – I would have loved to see Williams really dig into how the tragedy of Derek’s own background (his wife was killed at a mass shooting at a church three years prior to this story) has shaped his character, and despite her clear influence on Maya’s life, her mother’s story is woefully absent throughout A Lowcountry Bride.

Yet Maya is a remarkably easy heroine to root for, with a big heart and tons of determination to succeed. You’ll hope she and Derek manage to work things out not because their love is particularly swoon-worthy, but because Maya is simply a woman who deserves happiness. And though the two don’t have the sort of sexual chemistry that set the page on fire, Derek is such a staunch believer in – and cheerleader for – Maya that it’s obvious why he’s such a great partner/choice for her.

A Lowcountry Bride is a simple love story that’s really about learning to love – and trust- yourself as much as your romantic partner. Sweet, easy, and not too taxing, it’s a summer story you’ll fully enjoy while it’s happening, even if it won’t exactly linger on your year-end best-of lists afterward.

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A Lowcountry Bride is available now. Let us know if you’re planning to add it to your June reading list!