An Unexpected Gift

ArynChristian Fiction4 Comments

An Unexpected Gift by Melissa Wardwell is on tour with Celebrate Lit October 2023

Hard to believe we’re already on book 7 of the Suamalie Islands Year One. The variety this series offers, with varying levels and styles of suspense, romance, and broken people finding healing. Or at least starting their journey in that direction.

And today’s book is no exception! (Don’t forget to comment and then enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!)

Please note that this post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I may make a small commission. I only recommend books and resources that I’ve enjoyed personally, or believe that you would like. You can read my full disclosure here. You will also find information on Scripture translations there.

An Unexpected Gift by Melissa Wardwell is on tour with Celebrate Lit October 2023

About the Book

Book: An Unexpected Gift

Author: Melissa Wardwell

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 29, 2023

Something’s up in Suamalie, and it’s looking like love!

When Kiana, Lulu, and Meilani decide it’s time for the islands to have affordable wedding options, Something Suamalie becomes the marriage of skills, friendship, and wedding splendor on the islands.

Cruising around the island on a Moped in a business suit may seem incongruous, but Kiana knows how to blend practicality and professionalism, a strong work ethic and relaxation. With no time for mistakes or changes in plans, she’s also decided to forgo romance (for herself). There just isn’t enough time in the day. That is until the early arrival of one of the groomsmen of Something Suamalie’s first booking throws everything off balance, including her thoughts on long distance dating.

Beau was perfectly content with his job and the growing attraction to a girl back home; however, he hadn’t figured in the sassy and sometimes unprofessional wedding planner. Seeing her world begin to unravel while she and her partners fumble with their first weddings tugs at his heart strings and leaves him second guessing his choices in the romance department.

She’s a study in opposites. He’s attracted. So now what do they do?

Take a trip to the Suamalie Islands where palm trees sway, the sand and sea pulse with life, and the people will steal your heart.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

I’ve read a couple of wedding planner/bridal boutique Christian fiction over the last few years, and they’re usually eye opening and fun.

This was no exception. I couldn’t put it down. You’ve got your 3 friends starting their own business with the ups and downs and of course, the catastrophes that come with that.

And you’ve got the reluctant romance of the main character, who’s just not sure that either her gamer friend or the best man they’re trying to occupy for a week (since he was sent ahead to the destination wedding) is as good as he seems. Or that she’s ready to risk her heart for real.

Kiana’s emotions and personality are so 3D in this book. She’s very real with her in person friends and family, but they have no idea about her gamer life or friend.

That one thing, how well she keeps the two ‘worlds’ separate, really got me thinking of how we often have a ‘keep out’ section of our lives. Maybe it’s something fun and good, as in Kiana’s case, but just as likely, it could be our biggest pain point.

Learning to discern which are healthy, and managing them well, can be tricky. I pray you find a way to discern and manage well, whatever worlds you’re dealing with!

I received a copy of this book from CelebrateLit and chose to review it here. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author

Author Melissa Wardwell
Brunette woman smiling up into the camera

Melissa Wardwell resides in Owosso, Michigan with her husband and three teen-aged children.

She doesn’t mind alternating between the world of writing and the reality of being a mother, but she would rather sit with a good book or a good friend and a cup of coffee.

When she isn’t penning works of fiction, she is busy reviewing books for her blog, Back Porch Reads.

More from Melissa

Weddings—some love them, some hate them, some love them but try to avoid them. Whatever the reasoning, we all have a strong feeling toward this life passage that so many have taken part in. We have our favorite moments, and we have our pet peeves, and like the snow flack that falls in the winter, none of them are ever the same. There might be similarities, but they are still not the same.

As for me, I LOVE WEDDINGS. They have been part of my life in a way that some find exciting, which they can be, but not from this angle. My mom was a consultant and seamstress in the bridal industry for most of my childhood until shortly before I graduated high school. In fact, that is how I also met my husband because his mother was a bridal seamstress alongside my mother. Not long after my wedding, I naturally obtained a job at a local bridal salon and worked there for almost ten years.

When I left the industry in 2010, it was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I loved helping couples plan their big day. I have several fond memories of various brides whose stories stay with me to this day. And yes, a bridezilla is a thing, but she is not anyone you want to mess with because all the stereotypes are true. Thankfully, they’ve only been a couple that has ever crossed my path.

One of my favorite stories is about a bride who is anxious and overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done to plan the wedding. During one of her fittings, I noticed that she had some pretty severe acne breakout. She knew it was there, and it drove her crazy. “Not only am I stressed, I am now ugly,” she said, near tears. Before I let her leave the dressing room, I just talked to her about what she wanted for her wedding day and how it was different from what she was getting. She told me that she and her groom had initially planned to get married at their cabin in northern Michigan by the lake. Just them in a couple of friends. Instead, she was eyebrow deep in a wedding that was not hers. See, the groom was one of several sons with zero sisters. The mother-in-law had insisted on certain things happening that the wedding had taken on a life of its own, based on the mother of the groom’s vision.

I’m not one to stick her nose in a stranger’s business, but I did in this situation. My heart ached for this bride; she felt like she had no way out.

Looking at her in the mirror as I zipped up her gown, I said, “You know, all you need is a marriage license and a minister or a justice of the peace, and you can have the wedding you want.”

She laughed it off, and I laughed with her. I figured that was the end because it seemed to give her something else to think about as we laughed at the idea. Three weeks later, she came in for her final fitting. Remember, final fittings are done on the week of the wedding. The woman strolls in through the door of the bridal salon in marches back to the dressing rooms, where I am waiting with her go. Her smile lit up her face like a Christmas tree, she’d walked in confidently, and her acne had cleared up completely. Show her to the room, and before I close the door to let her slip into the dress before I come in and zip it up, I comment on how beautiful she looked. The bride put her purse down in the corner of the dressing room and turned to me, “we got married,” she said to me. I told her to get in her gown, and she could tell me the story in a minute.

Never in 1 million years would I have thought she would take my suggestion seriously. She informed me that the weekend after her last fitting, she and the groom went north to get away and pick up the marriage license from that county clerk’s office. They then decided to invite the local magistrate to their cabin, where he performed the wedding on their dock as the sunset over the lake. When I asked her about witnesses, she said they were good friends with the cabin next door, and those neighbors had just arrived at the same time as the magistrate. They agreed to sign as witnesses and watch the wedding from their dock. The couple had chosen not to tell anyone else what had happened, and I promised her that my lips were sealed as the rest of her bridal party came in to get their final fitting.

We sometimes make a big deal of the wedding day without considering what a couple wants. Sure, some things are almost a must if you’re having a large party. But for the most part, a wedding is about the couple and nobody else. If all the couple wants is to be married and spend their lives together, who can tell them what that should look like? I was proud of my bride for doing precisely what she and her groom wanted for their big day—small and simple. But I’m also glad they didn’t cancel everything to honor their friends and loved ones who planned to participate in their big day.

Blog Stops

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 29

She Lives To Read, September 30

Karen Baney Reviews, September 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 1

Texas Book-aholic, October 2

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 3

Aryn the Libraryan, October 4

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 5

The Book Club Network, October 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 7

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 8

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, October 9 (Author Interview)

Sylvan Musings, October 9

Simple Harvest Reads, October 10 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

For Him and My Family, October 11

Holly’s Book Corner, October 12


An Unexpected Gift: Giveaway includes a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a copy of the book!

To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

4 Comments on “An Unexpected Gift”

  1. Aryn, thank you so much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts. Kiana was a trip to write. She is a mixture of emotions.

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