A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams is about Maya Jackson, an emerging bridal dress designer living in New York City. She returns home to Charleston, South Carolina to care for her father, Pops, while mulling over career decisions. Derek Sullivan, a widowed father and military veteran, owns Always A Bride, a bridal shop in hard times. He wants to preserve the shop for his mother, who began it. Maya, through Pop’s girlfriend Ginger, learns about a job at the bridal shop. Maya and Derek build a simmering attraction through ambition, lineage, and openness to love anew.
Maya has sickle cell anemia. Her illness informs her decisions. She makes the choice of who to share the knowledge of her illness with. It is a connective tissue to how Maya evolves while being home. Her mind is incredibly busy, full of doubt. Her insecurities are ripe. She protects herself from love as she was engaged to someone who left because of her illness. She grows out of her caution by being vulnerable. She embodies the mantra “no risk, no reward.”
Ancestry is a foundation of this novel. Williams is Afro-Filipina, as is Maya. Maya pays homage to her Filipino culture in her wedding dress designs by using the bunga-sama stitching technique and the palipattang pattern. Derek and Maya honor each of their mother’s love for design. It also expands their dreams, thus honoring their mothers. The father-daughter relationships are the fullness of this novel. Pops is a refuge for Maya. He encourages Maya to open her heart. I imagined him wearing a Kangol and playing dominoes. He can make a smooth sweet tea as well. Jamila, Derek’s twelve-year-old daughter, is wise and loving. She is a reflection for her father as he keeps her best intentions in heart.
Maya and Derek connect through grief. It expounds beyond a loved one passing on. Grief can arrive from the fear of not fulfilling your dreams. It is shown as a tender, sour, and illuminating emotion.
Williams, in part of the story, touches upon the Charleston 9, where nine parishioners who gathered for bible study were murdered by a white supremacist in 2015. It is written as sentimental and sacred. She also writes about the preservation of Black landmarks in Charleston and businesses as a throughline for perseverance.
Yes, A Lowcountry Bride is a romance novel. This novel is also a companion for self-discovery with scintillating layers. Each character empowers this story. Maya Jackson shows the devotion to love and truest self.