Daring Brides

By: Ava Miles


Team Ava is the absolute best: Sienna, Angela, Louisa, Em, Hilary, Leigh, Beth, and my Angels. They support me in all the ways I need with absolute efficiency and joy. Yeah!

As I said, my sister, Michelle Khamis, helped me envision all these weddings so they'd be top notch and true-to-life. She went from being my inspiration in NORA ROBERTS LAND to starting her own business and being named Best Wedding Planner of the Year. Thanks for the vision boards for each wedding and for adding to the Daring Brides Pinterest board to give a canvas to this story.

T.F. My favorite mental image right now is of you standing at the end of the aisle.

And finally, to all my readers, who wanted to see the weddings of our favorite Dare Valley couples-so far. This one is for you.

Meredith & Tanner

Meredith Hale’s first wedding had been packed with so much pomp and circumstance that it wouldn’t have seemed out of place if the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey had joined the melee with elephants. Of course, her then-groom was the one who’d insisted on the spectacle. She should have seen Rick-the-Dick’s wedding egomania for what it was—another indication they weren’t truly suited, that they wouldn’t truly last. Five hundred people had packed into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Their reception had been sumptuously hosted by The Plaza on Fifth Avenue. She hadn’t known over half of the guests.

When she and her own Nora-Roberts-hero fiancé, Tanner McBride, had sat down to plan their wedding—her second and his first—they had been in complete accord. A small gathering. Only family and friends. Not super dressy, but with a great band and awesome food.

As she stood in front of the full-length mirror in the church’s bridal area, watching her mother fluff her veil, she realized how different she felt from the last time she’d worn a wedding dress. Before, her chest had been tight with pressure. Today, she felt all gooey inside. The kind of gooey that could only come from true love.

She’d returned to Dare Valley to prove that heroes like the men in Nora Roberts novels really existed—despite what her ex-husband, Rick-the-Dick, had said to the contrary.

She’d more than proved it. She’d found one for herself. And all because of that quality her grandpa called daring.

“Mom,” she said softly. “I think my veil is fluffy enough, don’t you?” It was lace trim, matching her dress, and trailed to mid-back. There was no way she was covering her face.

“Any more fluff, and it would be cotton candy,” her sister said from her perch on the small sofa, smoothing a hand over her red silk dress.

Jill was her only bridesmaid today, whereas last time she’d had seven. Seven. What had she been thinking?

“I’ll fluff it all I want, thank you very much,” their mom, Linda, responded with an exaggerated eye roll.

“You’re a lot more chill this time,” Jill commented, unscrewing the perfume bottle Meredith had brought and taking a sniff. “Of course, that’s mostly because you’re marrying the best man in the world this time and not an asshole.”

Leave it to Jill to put it out there. “I couldn’t agree more. What’s the time?”

Jill dabbed some perfume behind her ears and then reached into her bold purple purse for her phone. “We have a bit of time yet. How about a mimosa? I smuggled the fixings into one of my bags. I brought enough to fuel an army, and there are even special wedding straws so we won’t mess up our lipstick.”

She held up a bunch of straws decorated with red hearts on a white background. Where did her sister find such things?

“The church doesn’t allow alcohol inside, Jill,” their mother said, looking toward the door as if they were doing something naughty. “But I won’t tell if you won’t.”

Jill stuck her free hand out, and they shook on it. “Deal.”

Wonderful. The party was going to start early. “Okay, why not? I am duly made up and everything.”

“Tanner looks pretty hot,” Jill said, waggling her reddish-brown eyebrows. “I peeked earlier when I went to confer with the vocalist. She and the piano player seem cool.”

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