Friday, May 27, 2016

Saturday Snapshot - May 28

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Ack!  This post is late and I'm sorry about that!  I usually have these scheduled, but this week was just crazy.  Then, for some reason, I couldn't get the pictures I wanted to post from my phone to my computer to post.  In fact, I still don't have the pictures I wanted...but here are some of my son this week.  It was a big week for him--preschool graduation and the start of his summer vacation (my daughter still has a couple more weeks).

I love shows that my son thinks very highly of himself!

The only good graduation picture I got of him

So, Chris is 5 and he's obsessed with Deadpool (he knows the character from a video game and our "Marvel Encyclopedia")  He really, really wants to see the movie and drew this picture to show me how much he wants to see it.  Nice try, but not for many, many years buddy......

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Review: "Sour Grapes" by Rachel Goodman

Sour Grapes (Blue Plate #2) Rachel Goodman
Published: May 23, 2016
Genre: Romance (Contemporary)
Source: Netgalley
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Stories with family secrets, stories with a winery component, feisty heroines

Margaret Stokes is bitter. And not in the robust fine wine or tangy dark chocolate kind of way. She just got dumped, is fed up with her job as a glorified party-planner for the rich, and can’t possibly listen to one more veiled insult from her impossible-to-please mother. So she retreats to the comfort of her grandmother’s ramshackle bed and breakfast, where the wide open vineyards are filled with surprises, from the shockingly delicious wine to the aggravating yet oh-so-tempting man who makes it.

Ryan Camden’s easy approach to life encourages Margaret to loosen up and have a little fun, despite her better judgment. She resists the urge to micromanage every detail, embracing the welcome distractions of her surroundings and letting their relationship unfold at a natural rhythm. But when a health scare forces Grammy J to give up the B&B, Margaret begins to wonder if Ryan really is the man he promises—and whether the problems she tried so hard to escape ever really went away.

My Thoughts:
By all rights, I should not have liked this book.  It is the second in the series, which I did not know (and I have a "thing" about starting series at the beginning!) and the heroine, when we first meet her, is anything but likable.  While I can't use the "second" status as a strike, an unlikable main character will almost always turn me off a romance.

But, I stuck around--and I'm glad I did.  Yeah, Margaret starts off as someone you would not want in your life--but she changes.  Goodman does an exceptional job of showing (not telling!) the reader why Margaret is the way she is.  She grew up in with an emotionally abusive mother and an emotionally distant father.  She also recently went through a traumatic break up--a case where her beloved did not love her back in that way (and, guess what....that's book #1.  And, yes, I have it queued up on my kindle!).

It was this past relationship that kept me reading.  Her ex was not the love 'em and leave 'em kind of guy and he seemed rueful for the pain he caused Margaret.  In so many other books, the ex is depicted as a jerk and left at that and I really appreciated the humanity that Goodman gives him.

Once the action moves to West Texas and Grammy J's B&B, things start to take shape. The hero, Ryan, is not going to put up with Margaret's behavior--which is one factor leading her to reform.  She also learns about her family, comes to terms with her recent relationships--both with her ex and her friends, and realizes that her life just wasn't working the way she was living it and that she had the power to change.

There were two traps that I feared this book would fall into.  The first would be a contrived conflict before the promised "Happy Ever After" ending.  Honestly, I'd say about 80% of the romances that I read fall victim to this trap, but this book didn't.  Goodman was able to keep a couple different plot forces going and then bring them together to make a conflict that was both unexpected and realistic.

The second trap was that there were many opportunities in the second half of this book for Goodman to take the easy way out.  I'm not going to go into details, only because I don't want to spoil any elements, but there are a few messy situations where she could have just made things "nice" and then moved on her way.  Instead, she had Margaret work through the issue, usually with humor (at least for the reader) and grow from it.

This is the first book I've read by Rachel Goodman and it definitely won't be the last.  I would highly recommend this book to any romance fan.

I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Book Review: "This Too Shall Pass" by Milena Busquets

This Too Shall Pass Milena Busquets
Published: May 24, 2016
ISBN: 9781101903704
Genre: Contemporary Fiction (Translated)
Source: Penguin's First To Read Program

You might enjoy this book if you like: Translated fiction, fiction with a strong sense of place, Mother/Daughter stories

Blanca is forty years old and motherless. Shaken by the unexpected death of the most important person in her life, she suddenly realizes that she has no idea what her future will look like.

To ease her dizzying grief and confusion, Blanca turns to her dearest friends, her closest family, and a change of scenery. Leaving Barcelona behind, she returns to Cadaqués on the coast, accompanied by her two sons, two ex-husbands, and two best friends, and makes a plan to meet her married lover for a few stolen moments as well. Surrounded by those she loves most, she spends the summer in an impossibly beautiful place, finding ways to reconnect and understand what it means to truly, happily live on her own terms, just as her mother would have wanted.

My Thoughts:
This was one of those reading experiences where some things worked for me and some didn't.  I really think that is a book that will either resonate with a reader based on their own experiences or not.  For me, I read this book shortly after a death in our family, which I do think impacted my reaction to it.  However,I think the best think I can do is just lay out what worked and what didn't work for me at let the rest of you make the decision if this book is for you.

There are two areas in which I felt Busquets excelled.  The first was giving Blanca realistic grief to walk through.  As I said, my family was dealing with grief when I read this book and while I don't think any of us would express our grief the same way Blanca does, her grieving process still seemed very, very real to me.

The second area where Busquets hits a home run is creating a sense of place.  I truly felt like I was on the Spanish coast with Blanca and her friends and family.  The atmosphere in this book was superb.  In some ways, it helped me to think of Mama Mia when reading this--a beautiful setting featuring an older woman and her posse of ex- (and in this case, some current) lovers.

Now, onto what did not work for me.  While I felt that that Blanca's grief was believable, I didn't especially find her to be believable.  She struck me as being a teenager stuck in a 40-year old's body.  She seemed to lack any sort of sense of responsibility for anything, which grew very old very quickly.  To compound the issue, she didn't seem to grow as a character at all as the story progressed, which I found very frustrating.

Finally, this book was really light on plot.  I have nothing against character-driven novels--in fact, I usually quite enjoy them.  However, Blanca was just not a strong enough character to support an entire book without a strong plot.  The supporting characters were not notable enough to help prop up the novel (in fact, I had trouble keeping who was who straight!), so it felt like there was just a gaping hole in this book.

I can't say that I would recommend this book, but I also can't say that I wouldn't recommend it.  In the areas where things worked, the book was excellent.  And, if you are looking for a book that explores grief or takes you to the Spanish coast, this might be one to consider.

I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Saturday Snapshot - May 21

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

At the end of April, we went up to visit my husband's family in the Seattle area.  It was a double duty trip as it was not only fishing weekend, but also my husband's birthday!

A visitor in my Father-in-Law's Garden....

Apparently the fishing trip was very exciting! (No, they didn't catch ANYTHING!)

S'more are appetizers at Grandpa's house!

Yep, the hubs is 42+3 years old!

Getting Back in the Game...the Summer 2016 Comment Challenge

Folks, I've been a bad blogger lately.  I haven't been following up on Saturday Snapshats posts from others, I've dropped out of both the It's Monday....What are You Reading? and #FitReaders Meme.  I've cut back my post promotion to the bare minimum.  The only reason why posts are still showing up here is that I have scheduled them.  And why?

Because I still haven't figured out how to successfully navigate the end of the school year.

I'm serious....I'm not sure which way is up and I feel like I'm failing at treading water.  The good news is that I'm almost to the end of this season.  My son graduates from Preschool next Wednesday (and I totally expect to be sobbing through the entire ceremony) and my daughter's last day of school is in early June.  And then a whole other kind of craziness descends upon us...but it is one that I'm better equipped to handle.

Today, I came across Kathryn's post about her intention to join the Summer 2016 Comment Challenge.  I read it and thought, you know I could do that!  So, here I am...announcing my intention to join up.

If you'd like to join, you'd better hurry.  Like, do it now.  Sign ups close on 5/21 (you know, TOMORROW!) .  But it sounds like a great time, so why not?

Below are the details (dutifully copied and pasted!) and I welcome you to check it out if you are interested!

IF YOU LOVE comments and are looking for a fun blogging challenge to participate in this summer, then the Comment Challenge is for you. Hosted by Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense, the Comment Challenge was created as a way to increase comment activity on your blog and help you forge new connections with other book bloggers. For every month this summer (June through August), we will be pairing different bloggers together and asking them to engage and encourage one another through comments on each other’s blogs. And you are formally invited to join us!

The Details

  • This challenge will run June through August.
  • You are welcome to sign up for one, two, or all three months (a sign-up post will go up a month in advance for each month and will be open for three weeks).
  • Bloggers will be paired up for one month and will be required to comment on each other’s blog posts.
  • If you sign up for more than one month, you will have a different comment partner each month.
  • To allow a bit of freedom, you will be able to choose how often you would like to comment on your partner’s blog (options include 5-10 or 11-20 posts).
  • Social Media Option: If you’d like to give your partner further encouragement through social media, we will do our best to connect you with bloggers who are active on the same platforms.
  • Giveaway: at the end of August, we will be giving away two bookish prizes. Please note: this giveaway will only be open to participants.

What You Must Do

  • Sign Up: Starting today through the 21st, you can sign up for this challenge for June. Just answer a few questions on the Google Doc on the sign up post. We will be emailing you a couple of days before June 1st to inform you of your partner.
  • Create a Sign-Up Post: We will be posting a link-up as sign-ups are closing for participants to share their posts. What you should include:
  • Announce your intention to participate and what you’re looking forward to for this challenge
  • Let us know how often you intend to comment on your partner’s blog
  • Link back to your hosts: Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense
  • Include the Comment Challenge banner
  • Spread the Word: We’d love to see this challenge take off, so let other bloggers know about it. We’ll be using the Twitter hashtag #commentchallenge2016
  • Comment: When June 1st rolls around, get to commenting on your partner’s blog!

Important Dates

  • May 1st: June Sign-up Post 

  • May 15th: June Link-up + Giveaway Post

  • June 1st: July Sign-up Post

  • June 15th: July Link-up + Giveaway Post

  • July 1st: August Sign-up Post

  • July 15th: August Link-up + Giveaway Post

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Book Review: "The Bridge Ladies" by Betsy Lerner

The Bridge Ladies Betsy Lerner
Published: May 3, 2016
ISBN: 9780062354464
Genre: Memoir
Source: TLC Book Tours
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Mother/daughter stories, generat,ional stories, mid-century America, Jewish literature, the game of Bridge (or are at least familiar with Bridge)

After a lifetime of defining herself against her mother’s Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell generation, Betsy Lerner, a poster child for the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ’n’ Roll generation, finds herself back in her childhood home of New Haven, Connecticut, not five miles from the mother she spent a lifetime avoiding. When Roz needs help after surgery, it falls to Betsy to take care of her. She expected a week of tense civility; what she got instead were the Bridge Ladies. Impressed with their loyalty, she realized her generation was lacking. Facebook was great, but it wouldn’t deliver a pot roast.

Tentatively at first, Betsy becomes a regular fixture at her mother’s Monday Bridge Club. Before long, she braves the intimidating world of Bridge and comes under its spell. But it is through her friendships with the ladies that she is finally able face years of misunderstandings and family tragedy. The Bridge Ladies become a Greek chorus, a catalyst for change between mother and daughter. 

By turns darkly funny and deeply moving, The Bridge Ladies brilliantly weaves the stories of the Bridge Ladies, along with those of Betsy and her mother across a lifetime of missed opportunities. The result is an unforgettable and profound journey into a hard-won—but never-too-late—bond between mother and daughter. 

My Thoughts:
I'll be the first to admit that my personal experiences greatly impacted my experience with this book.  It only took reading the forward for me to realize that this was going to be one of those books that was almost just as much about me as it was about the book itself.

Growing up, my mother played bridge regularly.  In my mind, she played every week, although I'm sure it was probably a monthly thing.  She had her own set of "Bridge Ladies" and they played together for almost 30 years.  When Lerner talks about how, as a child, she tried to figure out how to stealthily steal the candies from the Bridge table--something I remember doing on many occasions!  Because of this, I had a deep connection for this book from the get-go.  There was something concrete here I could latch onto and, in many ways, I felt like Lerner was telling me my own story.

I loved seeing how the story of each Bridge Lady developed as Lerner got to know them better.  I think, as a child, it is easy to believe that adults are always adults and we don't realize that these women have their own stories.  And I found the relationships between the Bridge Ladies to be unexpected.  They aren't best friends, in fact there is sometimes some conflict between them, but they still use this one thing--Bridge--as a way to stay connected.

Lerner also talks about how she, inspired by these women, decides to learn how to play bridge.  It is not easy going, and I totally get that.  I once took 10 weeks of bridge lessons and then, on my first hand "on the floor", made a common beginners mistake and was yelled at...and that was the last time I played Bridge.  Trust me, Bridge is not for the faint of heart.  Still, as I read about Lerner's trails trying to learn the game, I started to think that maybe I should give it another try?

At the heart of this book is a mother-daughter story, and one of the more touching ones I've read in a work of non-fiction.  Lerner's relationship with her mother has not always been strong and, even as an adult, she is still trying to work through it.  Yet, Bridge becomes a language where she can connect with her mother like never before.  I was so touched by this that I sent my copy of the book to my own mother for Mother's Day.

I would recommend this book to, well, just about anyone...but especially to all of you who remember trying to figure out how to dive-bomb the chocolate dish at your mothers' Bridge games!

About the Author:
Betsy Lerner is the author of The Forest for the Trees and Food and Loathing. She is a recipient of the Thomas Wolfe Poetry Prize, an Academy of American Poets Poetry Prize, and the Tony Godwin Prize for Editors, and was selected as one of PEN’s Emerging Writers. Lerner is a partner with the literary agency Dunow, Carlson & Lerner and resides in New Haven, Connecticut.

Find out more about Betsy at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Betsy Lerner recently posted this on her Facebook page, and I felt it appropriate to share here.  Enjoy!

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.

Would you like to read more about this title?  Check out some of the other stops on the blog tour!  (Links go to the blogs, not the specific reviews):

Tuesday, May 3rd: Raven Haired Girl
Wednesday, May 4th: BookNAround
Thursday, May 5th: Books and Bindings
Friday, May 6th: Books on the Table
Monday, May 9th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach
Tuesday, May 10th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, May 11th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Thursday, May 12th: Lavish Bookshelf
Monday, May 16th: Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, May 17th: Puddletown Reviews
Wednesday, May 18th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, May 20th: Olduvai Reads
Monday, May 23rd: Worth Getting in Bed For
Tuesday, May 24th: I’m Shelf-ish
Wednesday, May 25th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Thursday, May 26th: The many thoughts of a reader
Friday, May 27th: Life By Kristen

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Book Review: "The Change Up" by Elley Arden

The Change Up (Arlington Aces #1) Elley Arden
Published: May 16, 2016
ISBN: 9781440591518
Genre: Romance (Contemporary)
Source: Netgalley and Barclay Publicity

You might enjoy this book if you like: Books featuring baseball, second-chance love stories, strong female characters

Commercial real estate mogul Rachel Reed is the one person her father can depend on, so when he walks into her Philadelphia office two weeks shy of her fortieth birthday to drop a personal and professional bomb, she rises to the occasion. She will help get his independent professional baseball team up and running before the inaugural season, and then … she will sell the team to recoup his substantial investment. It’s a tall order, but Rachel knows one thing for sure: a sexy nuisance from her past and a few acres of trees won’t stand in her way.

Former minor-leaguer- turned-landscaper Sam Sutter is surprised to find his brother’s ex in the woods behind the house he bought when he cashed out his signing bonus and said so long to baseball. He’s even more surprised to learn “his” trees are on her chopping block.  There’s no way he’ll desecrate his nature-loving mother’s memory by letting that happen.  But butting heads with the beautiful business woman is a tricky task that leads Sam to accept a position as head groundskeeper at her father’s stadium. Working under Rachel’s watchful, smoldering eyes might be Sam’s undoing.

She doesn’t know a thing about baseball. He swore off the sport ten years ago. But strange things happen when field dust gets in your veins.

My Thoughts:
There were two things that drew me to this novel--the fact that it is a baseball romance and the fact that it is "sort of" a second-chance romance.  This is the perfect time of year to read a good baseball romance and, on that criterion alone, this one fit the bill.

I appreciated that this wasn't exactly a second-chance romance,  Sam and Rachel had never been romantically involved, although Rachel had dated his brother, Luke, in high school.  Using this set up, Arden hit just the right chord between these two characters.  There was already an existing connection, but not so much so that the reader is cheated out of the beginning of their relationship.

Rachel is a wonderful main character.  She's a very strong woman, but we learn that she is also vulnerable and that her success has come at a price.  As the novel progresses, we see Rachel grow and soften and even come into her own. Her relationship with Sam grows naturally and is wholly believable.

There were a few parts of this book that were disappointing to me.  I felt the depiction of Rachel's father's Alzheimer's was not realistic.  To be fair, I'm comparing that to other novels I've read with characters with Alzheimer's, but it just didn't ring as true here.  I also felt that at certain points, Arden slips into tropes to move the plot along.  I would have rather seen her come up some more original scenarios rather than rely on situations that show up in so many other novels.

All in all, this was a fun read and one that I would recommend to anyone looking for a "baseball" season read.  This is the first in a new series and I'm going to make a point to continue with it.

About the Author:
Elley Arden is a born and bred Pennsylvanian who has lived as far west as Utah and as far north as Wisconsin. She drinks wine like it’s water (a slight exaggeration), prefers a night at the ballpark to a night on the town, and believes almond English toffee is the key to happiness.

Elley has been reading romance novels since she was a sixteen-year- old babysitter, sneaking Judith McNaught and Danielle Steele novels off the bookshelves of the women who employed her. To say she’d been sheltered up to that point is an understatement. No one had ever told her women could live bold, love freely, and have sex lives that were exciting and fulfilling. (They don’t teach these things in Catholic school!) Now that she knows, she’s happy to spread the word. The women she writes about may be fictional, but the success, respect, and love they find on the page is a universal right for women everywhere.

Elley writes books with charming characters, emotional stories, and sexy romance.  Visit The Bookshelf for a detailed listing.

You can also visit her online at the following places:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.

Follow the tour and enter to #win a grand prize of $25.00 Amazon gift card and a signed bundle of the Kemmons Brothers series!

Enter at:

Friday, May 13, 2016

Saturday Snapshot - May 14

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Okay, we're going back to March before our Arizona trip and a couple of random pictures that I especially liked, but didn't have the chance to post...

I loved the colors of the cherry blossoms against the stormy sky

And, of course, a picture of Alice.  She likes to spend a couple of hours each day up on the high shelf of my daughter's closet and she always seems very put out when I find her there!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Audiobook Review: "Year of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes

Year of Yes Shonda Rhimes
Published: November 10, 2015
ISBN: 9781442396203
Genre: Memoir
Source: Personal Copy (Audible)
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Anything on ABC on Thursday night, memoirs by introverts, memoirs by strong women, Cristina Yang, books about being generally awesome

Note: There are many shortages in this world, but GIF's from Grey's Anatomy is not one of those things and, let's face it, this review requires me to use as many of them as I can.

The mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder chronicles how saying YES for one year changed her life―and how it can change yours, too.

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.

And there was the side benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.

Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying Yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes. 

My Thoughts:
I think it is important, before I start spouting off about how this audiobook rocked my world, to let you all know where I stand with Shondaland.  I have never watched Private Practice or How To Get Away With Murder (yet...Netflix may change that) and I only made it through one season of Scandal before I got fed up and turned it off.  However, I am in a long term relationship with Grey's Anatomy.  It's not a perfect relationship--I've been tempted to break it off many times and have even "gone on a break," but I always, always come back.  I stuck through the hard times--when McSteamy was killed off--and the bad times--all that ghost sex with Denny--yet, I'm still there for you, the hospital now known as Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital.  My husband doesn't understand this and has a standard monologue that I hear every.single.Thursday.night when he finds me watching it--you know, how can I watch this silly soap opera?--things like that.  But even that isn't enough to get me to break it off with TV's character with the worst luck ever.  Never fear, Meredith Grey, I'm there for you.

So, here's the deal.  If I was a wizard and lived in that world, Shonda Rhimes would be my patronus.  I actually didn't know much about her until I listened to this book, but then I realized that she was like me in so many ways.  She's also, by her own admission, like Cristina Yang, which means I'm like Cristina Yang...and that makes me happy, but I digress.

Shonda Rhimes is an introvert--I know, that surprised the heck out of me, too.  And, as a fellow introvert, I get her need to insulate herself from the world and the fear she feels when in comes to trying new things.  Her project--to say Yes to everything that scares her for a year--starts out timidly, but then ends up changing her life.  I'll admit, some of the things she she said yes to really resonated with me.  Her chapter on saying yes to being healthy is one of the best I've read or heard.  It's not a "diet" and she doesn't really tell you what to do (well, she does reluctantly at the end of the chapter, but it really isn't anything that we haven't heard before), but her discussion on what led to her weight gain and how she dealt with it emotionally was excellent.

Because she spends much of her life writing TV shows, her book is heavy with references to those shows.  This is partly because many of the cast members have become close family members and partly because parts of her life are reflected in the shows she writes.  As I said, I only watch one of her shows, but I had no problem following what she was writing about.  Of course, I watch the show that has been on the air the longest, and her "flagship" show, so most of the references do come from Grey's Anatomy, so that did help things.  But I don't feel that you need to have watched any of her shows to follow her story.

Rhimes also serves as narrator for this audiobook, which did make me a bit nervous.  Writers who can deliver on the page can't always deliver in the studio and I knew that a high level of personality would be needed for this.  Rhimes delivers wonderfully.  In fact, I never really felt that she was reading her book, but rather just talking to me.  When I first heard about this book, I wasn't sure if I should read it or listen to it--and now I am very happy that I opted for the latter (but I may still invest in a print copy for reference.  Trust me, you will definitely want to revisit parts of this book!)

I cannot recommend this audiobook (or book) enough.  Even if you don't find it as inspiring as I did, I can guarantee that you will find it entertaining.  Shonda Rhimes is one of a kind and well worth your time!

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Review: "Danger, Sweetheart" by MaryJanice Davidson

Danger, Sweetheart MaryJanice Davidson
Published: May 10, 2016
ISBN: 9781250053152
Genre: Romance (Contemporary)
Source: Netgalley

You might enjoy this book if you like: Romance novels, books that poke fun at genres

Blake Tarbell has a town to save. Rich, carefree, and used to the Vegas party lifestyle, Blake is thrown for a curve when his former cocktail-waitress mother pleads he go back to her roots to save the town she grew up in. Blake's used to using money to solve his problems, but when he arrives in Sweetheart, North Dakota, this city boy has to trade in his high-priced shoes for a pair of cowboy boots...and he's about to get a little help from the loveliest lady in town...

Natalie Lane's got no time for newbies. The prettiest gal to ever put on a pair of work gloves, there's nothing she can't do to keep a farm up and running. But when a handsome city-slicker rolls into town with nothing but bad farmer's instincts and good intentions, Natalie's heartstrings are pulled. She's about to teach him a thing or two about how to survive in Sweetheart. And he's about to teach her a thing or two about love... 

My Thoughts:
This was one of the more interesting reads I've come across lately.  If you read this book, you absolutely MUST read the author note at the beginning, or else the book just won't make sense.  Davidson decided to write a book that used as many romance tropes as possible (you can try to keep count if you want, or just check out the list of tropes she includes at the end).  Because of this, there are two ways you can read this book: as a slightly satirical study of the romance genre or as a straight genre.

On the first count, that of a satire of the romance genre, this book hits the mark.  Davidson does an admirable job of weaving in the different tropes, but not in a way that the reader would immediately recognize it.  She also includes asides and notes to the reader, in her own voice, which actually go along quite well with this story.

There is a very wry sense of humor that floats through this book--and I believe that is a necessary ingredient to make Davidson's vision work.  This is the first book by this author I've read, so I don't know if that is a common feature in Davidson's book, but it was definitely welcome here.

Now, what about if you read this as a straight romance?  I'm not going to say it doesn't work, because I was pulled in by the end.  However, it took me quite a long time to be engaged by the story.  Honestly, I'm not sure if that was because I was more amused by the tropes and satire or if the tropes and satire got in the way of the plot.  I spent most of the book feeling a bit distant from the action of the book, which was unfortunate.

In the end, this is a book that I would recommend to the right reader.  I really think that perfect audience for this book is someone who is very familiar with the romance genre and someone who has the sense of humor that is tickled by pokes and prods.  If that is you, this might be just the thing for your next read.

I was given an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.