Read The Wedding Dress Online

Authors: Rachel Hauck

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The Wedding Dress

BOOK: The Wedding Dress
8.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Advance Praise for
The Wedding Dress

The Wedding Dress
will capture you from page one with a story only Rachel Hauck could weave.

—JENNY B. JONES, award-winning author of
Save the Date
There You’ll Find Me

The Wedding Dress
is a seamless tale of enduring love that weaves the past and present in an intricate, wedding dress mystery. Hauck again manages to mesmerize for well over 300 pages with quirky characters, a compelling plot, and a satisfying happily-ever-after. Highly recommended!

—DENISE HUNTER, best-selling author of
Surrender Bay
The Accidental Bride

  The talented Rachel Hauck has given us a contemporary love story enmeshed in a fast-paced mystery. Juggle your reading list, y’all. Brimming with the twin themes of redemption and grace,
The Wedding Dress
deserves a spot at the top!

Belle of All Things Southern and best-selling author of
Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy!

  Rachel Hauck’s writing is full of wisdom and heart, and
The Wedding Dress,
as artfully and intricately designed as the most exquisite of bridal gowns, is no exception. This novel tells the story of four loveable women, miraculously bound by one gown, whose lives span a century. Their mutual search for truth and love—against the odds—will most certainly take your breath away.

—BETH WEBB HART, best-selling author of
Sunrise on the Battery
Love, Charleston

  From the moment I heard about this story, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. A wedding dress worn by four different women over 100 years? Yes, please! I loved the story of these women . . . and their one important dress. For anyone who’s ever lingered over a bridal magazine, watched a bridal reality show, or daydreamed about being a bride, Rachel Hauck has created a unique story that will captivate your heart!

The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy,
The Guest Book
. Founder of

  A tender tale that spans generations of women, each a product of her time and ahead of her time. A beautiful story laced together with love, faith, mystery, and one amazing dress. Rachel Hauck has another winner in
The Wedding Dress

LISA WINGATE, national best-selling and
Carol award-winning author of
Dandelion Summer
Blue Moon Bay





Other Novels by Rachel Hauck

Dining with Joy

Love Starts with Elle

Sweet Caroline

Diva NashVegas

Lost in NashVegas


The Sweet By and By

Softly and Tenderly

Love Lifted Me








© 2012 by Rachel Hauck

  All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

  Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

  Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail [email protected]

  Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE
. © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

  This novel is a work of fiction. Any references to real events, businesses, organizations, and locales are intended only to give the fiction a sense of reality and authenticity. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Hauck, Rachel, 1960–

   The wedding dress / Rachel Hauck.

      p. cm.

   Summary: “One dress. Four women. An amazing destiny. Charlotte Malone is getting married. Yet all is not settled in the heart of Birmingham’s chic bridal boutique owner. Charlotte can dress any bride to perfection-except herself. When she discovers a vintage mint-condition wedding gown in a battered old trunk, Charlotte embarks on a passionate journey to discover the women who wore the gown before her. Emily in 1912. Mary in 1939. And Hillary in 1968. Each woman teaches Charlotte something about love in her own unique way. Woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of faith, and the beauty of finding true love”—Provided by publisher.

   ISBN 978-1-59554-963-1 (pbk.)

   1. Brides—Fiction. 2. Wedding costume—Fiction. I. Title.

   PS3608.A866W43 2012



Printed in the United States of America


12 13 14 15 16 17 QGF 6 5 4 3 2 1



To Jesus, the glorious bridegroom




Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Reading Group Guide


Author Note



Chapter One


April 14

t was the breeze, a change in the texture of the unseen that made her look up and walk around a stand of shading beech trees. Charlotte paused on the manicured green of the Ludlow Estate for a pure, deep breath, observing the elements of the day—blue sky, spring trees, sunlight bouncing off the parked-car windshields.

She’d woken up this morning with the need to think, to pray, to get closer to heaven. She’d tugged on her favorite pair of shorts and driven up to the ridge.

But instead of solitude, Charlotte found her piece of Red Mountain busy and burdened with shoppers, seekers, and bargain hunters. The annual Ludlow antiques auction to raise money for the poor was in full force on the estate’s luscious grounds.

Charlotte raised her sunglasses to the top of her head, resenting the intrusion. This was her personal sanctuary, even if the rest of the world didn’t know it. Mama used to bring her here for picnics, parking on a gravel service road and sneaking Charlotte along the Ludlows’ perimeter, laughing and whispering, “Shh,” as if they were getting away with something fun and juicy.

She’d find a spot on the back side of a knoll, spread a blanket, open a bucket of chicken or a McDonald’s bag, and exhale as she looked out over the valley toward the Magic City. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Yep,” Charlotte always said, but her eyes were on Mama, not Birmingham’s lights. She was the most beautiful woman Charlotte had ever seen. And almost eighteen years after her death, she still was the most beautiful woman Charlotte had ever seen. Mama had a way of just
, but she died before she imparted that gift to Charlotte.

Shouts invaded Charlotte’s memorial moment with Mama. Bidders and buyers moved in and out from under the

Shading her eyes from the angled sunlight, Charlotte stood in the breeze, watching, deciding what to do. Go back home or walk the grounds? She didn’t need or want anything that might be under that tent. Didn’t have the money to buy even if she did.

What she needed was to think through—pray about—her recent tensions with Tim’s family. His sister-in-law Katherine specifically. The whole mess challenged her to reconsider the leap she was about to make.

As Charlotte turned toward her car, the wind bumped her again and she glanced back. Through the trees and beyond the tent, the second-floor windows of the Ludlow stone-and-glass mansion shone with the golden morning light and appeared to be watching over the proceedings on the ground.

Then the wind shifted the light, a shadow passed over the window, and the house seemed to wink at her.
Come and see .
. .

“Hey there.” A lofty woman’s voice caused Charlotte to turn around. “You’re not leaving already, are you?” She lugged up the slope of the lawn with a box in her hands.

Charlotte recognized her. Not by name or face, but by aura. One of the classic Southern women that populated Birmingham. Ones with dewy skin, pressed slacks, cotton tops, and a modest string of pearls. She stopped by Charlotte, breathless.

“You’ve not even gone up to the auction tent. I saw you pull in, sweetie. Now, come on, we’ve beautiful items for auction. Is this your first time here?” She dipped into the box and pulled out a catalog. “Had to run to my car to get more. We’re busy, busy this year. Well, you can see that by the cars. Remember now, all the proceeds go to the Ludlow Foundation. We give millions in grants and scholarships around the city.”

“I’ve admired the foundation for quite a while.” Charlotte flipped through the catalog.

“I’m Cleo Favorite, president of the Ludlow Foundation.” She offered Charlotte her hand. “You’re Charlotte Malone.”

Charlotte regarded Cleo for a moment, slowly shaking the woman’s hand. “Should I be impressed you know me or run screaming back to my car?”

Cleo smiled. Her teeth matched her pearls. “My niece was married last year.”

“I see. She bought her dress from my shop?”

“She did, and for a while, I believed she was more excited about working with you than marrying her fiancé. Quite a business you have there.”

“I’ve been very fortunate.” More than any poor, orphaned girl dreamed. “Who is your niece?”

“Elizabeth Gunter. She married Dylan Huntington.” Cleo started toward the tent. Charlotte followed so as not to be rude.

“Of course, I remember Elizabeth. She was a beautiful bride.”

“And she wanted the whole wide world to know it.” Cleo laughed with a pop of her hand against the breeze. “She darn near sent my brother to the poorhouse. But you only get married once, right?”

“I hear that’s the idea.” Charlotte touched her thumb to the shank of her engagement ring—the reason she’d driven up here today. She paused at the edge of the tent.

“So, Charlotte, are you looking for any particular item? Something for your shop?” Cleo dropped the box of catalogs on a table and started down the main aisle as if she expected Charlotte would follow. “We have some beautiful wardrobes for sale. The catalog tells you the lot number, when and where to bid. The auctioneer just moves to the piece. We found that to be easier than—well, what does any of that matter? It’s a great auction and it runs smoothly. Tell me, what are you looking for?” Cleo tipped her head to one side and clasped her hands together at her waist.

BOOK: The Wedding Dress
8.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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