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A Big Sky Romance #2

The Accidental Bride

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When a wedding reenactment turns real, Shay finds she's an accidental bride.

Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana, on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. Despite the hard work, she can't seem to keep her head above water--and now the bank is threatening to foreclose. She prays for a miracle, but the answer she receives is anything but expected.

Having agreed to play the bride in the Founders' Day wedding reenactment, Shay is mortified to be greeted at the end of the aisle by none other than Travis McCoy, her high-school sweetheart--the man who left her high and dry for fame and fortune on the Texas rodeo circuit.

Then the unthinkable happens. Thanks to a well-meaning busybody and an absentminded preacher, the make-believe vows result in a legal marriage. But before Shay can say annulment, Travis comes up with a crazy proposal. If she refuses his offer, she may lose her home. If she accepts, she may lose her heart.

Shay isn't sure if the recent events are God's will or just a preacher's blunder. Will trusting her heart to the man who once shattered it be the worst mistake of her life? Or could their marriage be the best accident that ever happened?

320 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Denise Hunter

84 books3,434 followers
Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of more than 40 novels, three of which have been adapted into Hallmark movies.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town romances, peopled with layered characters who have real-life issues. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books.

In 1996, Denise began her first novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books contain a strong romantic element, and her husband says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Denise and her husband live in Indiana, where they raised three sons, and are currently enjoying an empty nest.

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5 stars
1,452 (38%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 370 reviews
Profile Image for Preeti ♥︎ Her Bookshelves.
1,291 reviews19 followers
September 6, 2020
First things first, I did not know this was a christian/inspired kind of story when I began. My past 2-3 experiences with the genre has been bad - preachy bad!
But surprisingly, this author does a good job without going overboard (until the end, that is). The tone is sweet and understanding rather than the usual gloom and doom.

Overall, a likable book. So, a 3*
Profile Image for Kamaliah.
196 reviews28 followers
May 7, 2018
travis, the man... :)

After reading Wade's story, the momentum for DH's book decrease. I like Wade but there's no wow factor there buttttt Travis is another story. He increased my reading momentum like nobody's business...

The story of Shay and Travis and sweet Olivia.

Shay has been hurt twice and even when they say third time's the charm, Shay is still pessimist. I was a bit angry at Shay but I understand her. Growing up the way that she did. Been jilted the way that she had, Once Bitten Twice Shy. She was very very unsure and sceptical of Travis. Due to this low self esteem, she almost lost the one thing that matters the most to her. If it weren't for Abigail, Miss Lucy and Travis of course, she would have lived miserably ever after.

Travis is the man thru and thru. He hurt her once. But not for long and returned to amend the mistake made but he was too late and lost the only girl that he had ever loved. 14 years later, he came back to again make amends and he did, in a way. Sad to say, he ended up hurting her again without actually knowing why. But being the man that he is, he came back to make the love of his life understand how much he actually loves her.... MELTINGGGGGGG....

And they live happily ever after.... with Olivia of course n her newly born baby bro... Love this story very much!!!

Profile Image for Hannah.
2,402 reviews1,336 followers
December 26, 2015
4.5 stars.
Okay, okay, I admit I picked this one for the title and the cover. Who can resist? Especially when it's on the $3 bargain shelf? And then I discovered a new favorite author! I didn't even bother to grab book one before diving in, and it's so well written that it stands alone easily.
So the story begins with Shay playing bride in a reenactment, and she almost backs out when she finds out that the "he" of the reenactment is the man who left her at the altar years ago the night they tried to elope, and it's pretty quickly obvoius that her heart is still back there waiting for him, even though she's trying so hard to convince herself to forget there was ever anything and pretend he doesn't exist. And then...well, they find out there's been an oops and the staged wedding was legally binding.
Can they figure out a way to at least be civil to each other long enough to get out of this mess? Excellent dialogue and some funny and heartbreaking moments...and a wonderful ending. Of course cowboys and a ranch make a perfect backdrop...
Since I read this in two gulps and reread it, it gets five stars.
Profile Image for Gretchen.
259 reviews36 followers
May 11, 2021
This isn’t my favorite DH but it’s enjoyable. Shay was just okay. I feel like her only character trait shown was her stubbornness & that she had no other likable qualities. Like, I couldn’t really understand why the hero loved her or wanted to fight for her.
Profile Image for Katie.
Author 2 books119 followers
January 9, 2012
First posted on my blog, Legacy of a Writer.

The Accidental Bride will have you gripping the pages, breathless. And not the kind of suspense 'breathless-ness' us thriller-readers might think. But a romantic kinda suspense that has you cheering--urging--Travis to prove to Shay that he's a changed man. It's definitely a book that, when you read the last page, you close with a content sigh. You go through such turmoil to get to the 'happy ever after', you're just too thrilled to think of anything but, "He did it! They're together! Yay!"

Travis was great. Sure, he was a knucklehead in his youth, but now he's wiser--gotta love a guy who admits he was wrong and tries so hard to fix it! Shay, personally, was a little harder for me to like. Okay, a lot harder! There were a few times I wanted to knock her upside the head and tell her to open her eyes--to see what an awesome man Travis turned out to be. I do understand some of her hesitation...but after five months?! How could she keep doubting?

In The Accidental Bride, there comes a point where their vows are consummated, and there are several passionate kisses. Kisses are described, but past that, the author doesn't go into too much detail except to mention that it takes place. There's also mentioning of a "necking" in the hay stall and them taking a shower together. It could have done without some of the more heated, intimate scenes, but Denise Hunter more just toed the line, in my opinion.

The idea of becoming accidentally, and so irreversibly, married to someone without even knowing was kinda far-fetched for me. And the author even says that she stretched a few laws and such to make it work. But it did make for an interesting story. I loved the writing style in this book--so sharp and bold, carrying the thoughts, feelings, and reactions of the character right to the reader. It felt so real, so believable. The Accidental Bride is a book that fans of Denise Hunter are going to love! :-)
Profile Image for Emily.
415 reviews55 followers
February 25, 2021
2021: IDK, man. I like this book, but Denise Hunter got even better as time went by and this doesn’t feel like a 5 star anymore.

Changing to 5 stars...every time I read this book, it gets better.
Profile Image for Bluerose's  Heart.
532 reviews28 followers
January 15, 2012
I read A Cowboy's Touch last year and really enjoyed it, so I'd been highly anticipating the next chapter with The Accidental Bride! Unfortunately, my memory was a bit vague on the characters, so it took a little while to place who I was actually reading about. I did finally put everyone in their rightful place, I THINK!

While I didn't like this one quite as much as A Cowboy's Touch, I still really liked it. I couldn't help but like Shay, but she did get on my nerves at times. She was just SO INCREDIBLY STUBBORN! This one was a good bit more edgy than I remember A Cowboy's Touch being. I know a great deal of you will love that about it, but others not so much. :)

I had a difficult time believing the whole "accidental marriage" part of the story. As a contemporary novel, it just didn't seem realistic. If I had been "accidently" married, it would take a great deal more for me to be willing to consummate the marriage, so I cringed at that whole part. In the author's note at the back, Denise admitted to "breaking a few laws" to make the story work. I actually feel better about that. :) I've mentioned before that as historical books, I LOVE "marriage of convenience" stories. As contemporaries, I just have a harder time with them. Despite that, I think Denise did a great job of making it work!
Profile Image for Vernie.
40 reviews
February 11, 2012
Shay Brandenberger is a single mom who tries to keep up with the demands of keeping her ranch, raising a daughter and she is at her wit’s end about her financial troubles.

To add insult to injury, she crossed path with the person she hates the most---her high school sweetheart who left her once at the Altar!

Until fate brought them again together and their make-believe wedding turns out to be real!

This is a feel good romance tale with a bit of drama, lots of humor and tension between the two main characters---Shay and Travis. Reading this book also gives me a glimpse of ranch life as it usually comes to my mind that it is nothing but horses and cowboys!

Of course, it more than that and I was drawn to Shay because most women can really relate to her as to what she has gone through: Heartbreak, betrayal, a marriage gone wrong, abandonment and trying to be a good single parent.

A vivid portrayal of a woman hanging on and keeping up with her faith that things can work out right if you trust God with all your heart and a man hunted with his past and redeeming himself in every possible way.

I find the back-story or flashback well written in a way you will not get lost. Furthermore, I find myself sympathizing with Shay with her series of unfortunate events.

Moreover, it is a story of finding God’s will in our lives and what the power of prayer can do.
Profile Image for Chanel.
221 reviews58 followers
January 13, 2023
The accidental marriage was a hard sell for me and I just didn't agree with it at all. I know the author took artistic license regarding their marriage, but it irked my nerves that the marriage between Shay and Travis was deemed legal and valid yet dismissed their intentions completely. Furthermore, I don't buy that the covenant of marriage between Shay and Travis was still true in the sight of God, when they didn't make the vow in front of God and man to take each other as husband and wife as themselves instead of historical characters.

Honestly, I think it's only reiterated as being a valid Christian marriage to deem their intimacy as an acceptable and good thing - and that's where the gray area comes in. It's really an "all's well that ends well" type of situation, but I really wasn't okay with it.

Aside from that, the second chance romance between Shay and Travis was just okay. I had trouble warming up to Travis in general. Additionally, I didn't always agree with Shay's back-and-forth and decision making.

Overall, The Accidental Bride was an okay read, but it wasn't my favorite. 2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Melissa.
2,214 reviews207 followers
February 12, 2014
I really like this author. They way she writes is so anxty! Lots of misunderstandings and good romance:} Her stories make sense, flow well and have great resolutions. This leading man I just loved he was so human and so honest. Very fun book. They were Christian but no specific religion and no preaching scene. Adult romance.
Profile Image for Shelley Lawrence.
1,626 reviews87 followers
August 26, 2021
2.75 stars
I’m a long time Denise Hunter fan, but think her early works, and this particular series is just not for me. It’s an older trilogy and is mired in the stereotypical tropes of the romance genre: lack of communication when a simple conversation would solve all, and an unreasonably stubborn character who makes life much harder for herself and those around her. The Accidental Bride was quite simply, frustrating to read. And while I do understand that it’s set in a small, Midwestern town and is written about cowboys, the jargon feels a bit forced and affected.

There are elements I definitely enjoyed in the story. I really liked the daughter, Olivia, and her relationship with the main male character. I also appreciated the examples of life on a ranch/farm and the anecdotes about the animals. I valued the Christian message of trusting that God has a plan and will see us through, even when it doesn’t seem likely, but the overly cliched, predictable plot felt a bit dumbed down and didn’t make for a fun, or meaningful reading experience. That said, I don’t want to take anything away from this author, I do think that her books get better and better with every plot she pens.
Profile Image for Rebekah Millet.
Author 1 book10 followers
September 26, 2018
I’m so glad I get to read this entire series back to back! The chemistry between Shay and Travis was amazing. Plus the faith elements were sweet to see consistently throughout the story. And I love how Shay was such a hard worker and could hold her own. Although I was miffed at Travis for how he treated her in the beginning, he won me over and then some. Can’t wait to read the last book in the series next!
Profile Image for Amanda.
Author 48 books96 followers
June 2, 2015
I started this book skeptical that the author could create a believable scenario for an accidental marriage. I was pleasantly surprised with the way she pulled it off. The legal aspect at least felt plausible.

I enjoyed the general writing style, which made me want to keep reading. Travis was certainly likable. Who can resist a guy (mostly) doing everything in his power to win over the woman he loves? Shay, on the other hand, was hard to root for. I get that she was hurt by Travis leaving her on their wedding day but she seemed more embarrassed by it than heartbroken. Then she, only a few months later, married a guy she knew was a poor match for her just to show town gossips that someone would marry her. This proves she wasn’t mature enough for marriage and should have made her cut Travis a little slack for being on to something, even if the way he left was cowardly. Maybe even help her believe that he grew up some in the last fourteen years, as we hope she did.

One thing that bothered me that I can’t believe more people haven’t mentioned (I didn’t see it in any of the reviews I read) is that a mistakenly filed legal document is not a Christian marriage. They said only fake vows they didn’t mean using the wrong names. How could any of these characters believe that made them married in the eyes of God? For a lot of the book, I expected it to end with Shay or Travis (preferably Shay because she needed to contribute something) suggesting they visit the minister for proper vows and a real commitment. In my humble opinion, that would have been a more satisfying ending.
Profile Image for Charity.
203 reviews16 followers
January 13, 2012
Somehow I accidentally:) signed up for two blog tours with this book, The Accidental Bride, so I am reviewing it twice on my blog. If you didn't catch it the first time, check it out now!

MY REVIEW-I was blessed to be able to review the first book in this series, A Cowboy's Touch. The way I see it, this series is about people who have had mistakes in their past, and now want to make things right. In this book, Shay and Travis have met after Travis ran out on Shay many years ago. Shay has been married and had a daughter and her husband died. Travis has now gotten his act together but Shay does not believe him. The way they end up "accidentally" married is hysterical.

There was one thing I did not like about this book and it is the point where Denise almost crosses the line in the intimacy department. There are two spots that don't go over, but the come right up to the point of being too descriptive. I know teenage girls who read these Christian fiction books, and while some of them know what goes on in a relationship, many of them do not. And this will put ideas into their heads. I am not saying to not have romance in a story. Definitely not that! But have it wholesome and pure.

Overall a good historical that had funny parts and sad parts. If you are an adult married woman, definitely pick this book up to read. You will thoroughly enjoy it:)

I received a copy of this book through Booksneeze for review. I did not receive any monetary compensation.
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,102 reviews409 followers
February 9, 2012
I've already met Shay when I read (and loved) a previous book by Denise Hunter, featuring Abigail and Wade. Wade's and Shay's daughters are friends. It was fun to peek into Abigail's and Wade's life after the last book ended. But this story is Shay's.

Shay was stood up at the altar by Travis, her high school boyfriend, who left for the rodeo. By the time he figured he goofed, Shay had remarried. Now, 14 years later, Shay is divorced and her ex-husband has died. She's single parenting and running a ranch on fumes. It's about to go under when a Founder's Day re-enactment of a pioneering couple somehow becomes real as Shay and Travis are the proxies.

It's a fun concept, if a little unbelievable. I didn't mind the pretending it could happen. The problem I had was with the cantankerous Shay. The idea is that she's been through a lot of tough times and has learned by many experiences to not trust or count on a man but I found very little redeeming qualities about her. I liked Travis just fine but I did also have a small problem with keeping up with the quick shift of point of view.

The underlying message is one I loved; Galations 1:10 - who are we trying to please, man or God? Shay struggles with what other people think of her. This translates to her own daughter and Travis and Abigail are instrumental in helping her with this issue of pride.

It's a fun, quick read. I like Hunter's writing but I am much more drawn to Abigail's and Wade's story.
Profile Image for Casey.
419 reviews106 followers
December 22, 2011
4.5 stars to a novel that completely charmed me!

I’ve gotta start this review off with props to the dialogue. It has some of the best dialogue to read and is fast-paced, quick and to the point and escalates the tension so quickly! Shay comes off snarky and stubborn, but I loved her. She knows what she wants and has struggles to overcome, but deep down, she is so completely relatable. More often than not she had me giggling at something she said or did. Oh, of course she was upset with Travis when she said it, but I loved her.

Oh Travis. Travis. Travis. What a hero to fall for. He has so many excuses to get angry and walk away from his “accidental” marriage (I’ll let you read the book, and trust me, you should. ;-) to Shay, but making up for his past mistakes to her means more to him. And his love for her melted my heart. Oh to be in Shay’s shoes. Sigh.

From cover to cover, I sighed. I grinned. I groaned when Shay told Travis off because she was too stubborn to accept his help and I swooned during more than one kiss.

Really what it comes down to is you need to read this book. It’s got just about everything it needs to be a really great romance with a plot that drives the story without stopping. A great read!

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers for my copy to review.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,978 reviews552 followers
March 4, 2016
The Accidental Bride was a fun and sweet romance! Denise Hunter is one of my top favorite contemporary romance writers, so I wasn't surprised to have enjoyed the book so much.

I loved the hero of the story. I liked how he didn't give up and kept pursuing her. I also loved that the romance was a story of second chances -- a favorite plot of mine.

All in all, if you like romance I definitely recommend The Accidental Bride!

*I received a complimentary ebook copy for my honest review. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*
Profile Image for Anna.
616 reviews29 followers
March 23, 2022
I give up on this one. I'm 3/4 of the way through, but it is just not keeping my interest. I have read many of Denise Hunter's books and this is the first one that I don't care for. The premise is a little weird anyway, and the characters just act in ways that frustrate me. It all comes down to lack of honesty and communication between them. Two other things: I can't find it in large type and the very small print strains my eyes, which also frustrates me. Also, I have 6 other really good books waiting on the shelf by my chair, so this one is going back to the library.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,356 reviews99 followers
May 30, 2016
A pretty cute read. I liked both the main characters, though Shay did annoy me with her stubbornness sometimes. I thought that it took a little too long for the relationship to grow, though. They'd have a small "moment" and then before the scene was even over Shay would take 3 steps back. Overall, though, it was quick, cute read and I'll probably read some of the other books in this series.
Profile Image for January.
1,213 reviews67 followers
July 20, 2022
The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter 295 pages Paperback, story ends on 290
A Big Sky Romance #2

Genre: Christian Fiction, Romance > Christian Romance, Contemporary Romance, Clean Romance; Westerns

Featuring: Moose Creek and Bozeman, Montana; Wyoming, Texas, Ranch Life, Small Rual Town, Single Parenting, Fake Marriage Trope, Bullying, Reputation, Sex - off camera, Reading Group Guide, Author's Letter, Advertisements

Rating as a movie: PG-13 for adult situations

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

My thoughts: Page 25 of 295, 5 pages into Ch. 5 - This is unrealistic but cute. I figured they were going to expand on one of the characters from the first book and I was right.
📖 78 Ch. 12 - Every chapter this story becomes more ridiculous. I was hoping to love this one but it's so unrealistic it's not cute. I'm also over olive eyes.
📖 89 Ch. 13 - Well that took forever.
📖 201 Ch. 28 - Once again I'm waiting forever for action. I think I have overcome the unrealistic plot, but I'm near the end and we haven't gotten anywhere.

It was okay. The Author's Letter at the end of the book acknowledges that she had to bend the rules for this plot and took "artistic license." She hoped we enjoyed the story despite the improvisations, but I didn't. This story was just okay for me. Shay got on my nerves from beginning to end and I didn't see much growth. I also don't like being stuck in phase one of a romance novel for the major of the book, this is exactly what happened in the last book, and all of the other phases were rushed through in the last quarter of the book. I'm going to take a break between this book and the next one, maybe give it a week. I don't like their pacing.

Recommend to others?: Maybe. I'm not writing this series off.
Profile Image for Lisa.
235 reviews7 followers
July 6, 2017
This was one of those books where I could totally relate to the heroine’s insecurities, which made this ring true for me. It’s just so hard sometimes to remember that God’s opinion is the only one that matters and He’s got everything under control. The romance between Shay and Travis had just enough spark to keep it interesting and Travis was another swoon worthy hero. His tenderness with Olivia, Shay’s daughter, made me love him. This is definitely a book I’d read again and just one more fine, clean romance by Denise Hunter.
Profile Image for Maggie Carr.
975 reviews16 followers
October 16, 2020
Once intending to get married but his cold feet left her at the alter. Moose Creek's town anniversary found them walking down the aisle in a reenactment, with Miss Lucy trying to help by leaving their old, non-expiring, marriage license near an official minister who then turned it in. The chain of events sets into motion a second-chance romance in a town of loveable characters, including updates from book #1 in the series.
5 reviews
December 12, 2018
I liked this book! Really good chemistry between the main characters. I would give it a 4.5. It’s a modern day Christian cowboy romance set in Montana. About a mom who falls back in love with her high school sweetheart. I was frustrated with her about how harsh / mean at times she came off to me, the reader. She didn’t seem like a very nice person/ willing to even let him in at all, so that was painful to read. First time with this author and I liked her!
469 reviews4 followers
April 1, 2020
Wow. These books are perfect for a little escape from the COVID chaos!
Profile Image for Kayla Roberts.
77 reviews2 followers
July 5, 2022
So beautifuuuuul 😭
The couple is intimate but it isn’t described.
Profile Image for Shelby.
61 reviews2 followers
July 17, 2022
shay ... bye.

travis beloved. also i cant tell if he would be ugly or hot. the vibes are off
Profile Image for Wanda.
83 reviews5 followers
December 18, 2011
Shay Brandenberger carries a heavy load—a single mother trying to keep a working ranch afloat in hard times—not to mention the emotional baggage of being jilted at eighteen and then having a failed marriage. She has decided that men are not worth the trouble. Travis McCoy made his rodeo dreams come true but not without leaving a lot behind—namely Shay. He deeply regrets walking out on her on their wedding day all those years ago and realizes that he has never really gotten over her. When Travis comes back home to care for his parents’ ranch and he and Shay are roped into the leading parts for the annual Founders’ Day Wedding reenactment—well, sparks fly. Then the unthinkable happens. They find that through a series of very improbable events they are actually legally married. Shay is furious and Travis realizes he has a chance to make things right and do what he should have done fourteen years ago.


The book held my interest and I read it in a day, but after finishing it I was left feeling that it could have been better.


Although Hunter has excellent writing skills, this just turns out to be an okay read. The story line is unbelievable and predictable. The spiritual content of the book is not very high—lip service to the main characters being Christians but not much further than that. The author bio states that her books contain a strong romantic element and they do. That is not necessarily a good thing. I like romance. But I like it to stay wholesome. While the author did not technically cross the line into anything inappropriate I felt that some of the romantic scenes were too descriptive, especially when you consider that a lot of young teenage girls read Christian fiction. I’ve said it before—I’ll say it again—sometimes less is more.

I received this complimentary copy from the Thomas Nelson Publishing through their BookSneeze program. A positive review was not required and the opinions expressed here are my own.
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,051 reviews590 followers
May 24, 2020
This is the first book I’ve read by Denise Hunter, and it won’t be the last. I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed reading Travis & Shay’s story. Travis ditched Shay on their wedding day, and now fourteen years later he shows up wanting to win her back. I admit, sometimes I was pretty mad at Travis. Why are guys so dense? But, he really won me over. I thought he and Shay had great chemistry together. I could totally understand why Shay had some pretty thick walls up and I’m glad she made Travis work for it. This has two of my favorite kinds of plots, lost-love and marriage-of-convenience, what could be better? I thought the accidental wedding storyline was very believable. I really enjoyed how everything played out.

I didn’t realize that there had been a book before this, A Cowboy’s Touch, about Wade and Abigail who show up in this story. The Accidental Bride stands on its own, but I’m excited to go back and read Wade and Abigail’s story.

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