The Sparkling One - Susan Mallery
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 fund-raiser, 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.
I received this book in a Goodreads swap. I picked it out among many different books partly because I wanted a lower shipping rate and partly because I could not resist getting more books (I'm a book junkie - what can I say?). It is the first book in the Marcelli Sisters series surrounding a family of four sisters raised in a strong Italian family on a winery.
I loved the concept of family in this book. The entire family is present, the grandparents having lots of say in decisions, and home being a place of safety and love. I also enjoyed the romance between Zach and Katie, as it was fun to read about a secret-but-not-so-secret love between them.
That being said, I found several of the characters flat in this novel. I got sort of confused at different stories of the characters, and I felt that some of the side stories were a little out of place. I also did not really feel all of the family atmosphere. I love the idea of an Italian family raised around the winery - grandparents, parents, siblings all involved in each other's lives. But I found the parents to be almost non-existent, and I did not even remember their names until the middle of the book. I kept going, "Now who is Colleen again?" And I did not get any of the family dynamics that would be present in such a large family. The story shifted from being told from several different point of views, but I never felt that I knew the characters very well.
I also was a bit disappointed in the character Zack and his stance on Katie. Perhaps it is simply because I dislike men who are so arrogant and always get their ways, but he kind of drove me nuts. I kept hoping for Katie to make him pull out all of the stops to romance her. Instead, she seemed to fall at his feet right on time. That always irritates me. I also found it unrealistic that Katie is dating her sister's soon-to-be father-in-law and there is no conflict when Mia and David find out. I think it would be just a tad weird to find out that your father is dating your soon-to-be sister-in-law and you not have at least a minor freak-out. Maybe that comes in the next books, but it just seemed that the ending was a bit too sweet and wrapped up all nicely.
Ultimately, I enjoyed this book but found it a little lacking in depth. It was a great romance and a fun light-hearted romance. I recommend it to those who are looking for a light read without much emotional investment. I enjoyed reading it and am not sorry I did, but I probably will not read it again. Hence the rating 3/5. It was my first Susan Mallery novel, and I might pick up the next book in the series to see if I am less disappointed by that one.