Don’t be fooled by the cover. This is not the light-hearted contemporary romance you might expect from the artwork. There is a romance, it’s true, but the focus is far more on the heroine’s personal growth and the relationships and stories surrounding the secondary characters than it is about the romance.
Here’s the thing: if you’re looking for a happy-go-lucky, humorous read, this isn’t the book for you. But if you’re after an exploration of the meaning of family and friendship, it may well be. Sometimes, I think the author goes a bit overboard on the “life-trauma” side and in those moments, I feel as if I’m being manipulated, but most of the time I enjoyed the ride.
Grace has a boatload of trouble: survivor’s guilt over her mother’s death, a best friend with possibly terminal cancer, and secrets she keeps from everyone, along with those being kept from her. Grace’s secret (and I don’t want to spoil it, so I am going to tiptoe around it) is the one I find least believable. I knew what it was going to be from the moment it’s hinted at, and I didn’t think it fit with her personality or the history the author gave her.
But outside of that, the story is a good one. Grace’s relationship with Promise, her bff, is particularly sweet. Promise’s cancer serves as a catalyst for Grace’s growth, perhaps even more so than her own father’s death. Grace’s aunt, Maxie, is portrayed in an amusing but delicate manner; the symptoms of dementia she suffers are not overdone or maudlin, which can be a tough balance.
Grace’s relationship with Dillon falls under the “friends-to-lovers” umbrella. He’s the ultimate “nice guy,” a successful writer who shows up to spend the summer at Grace’s because his best friend—her brother—insists that Grace needs the rent money. But he ends up fixing screens, painting, and generally making Grace’s life easier. The pressures on their relationship (notwithstanding that he stood her up for prom years earlier—she’s not so stupid that she can’t forgive that) are largely external. There’s no real question that he and Grace will end up together as their relationship grows slowly and fairly evenly.
I rarely found myself getting emotional or angsting over the romance, but the other plots have plenty of that to go around, so if you’re looking for solid women’s fiction with a strong romantic element, this might be for you.
Grace has taken care of her widowed father her entire adult life and the ornery old goat has finally died. She has no job, no skills and very little money, and has heard her father’s prediction that no decent man would ever want her so often she accepts it as fact.
But she does have a big old house on Lawyers Row in Peacock, Tennessee. She opens a rooming house and quickly gathers a motley crew of tenants: Promise, Grace’s best friend since kindergarten, who’s fighting cancer; Maxie, an aging soap opera actress who hasn’t lost her flair for the dramatic; Jonah, a sweet, gullible old man with a crush on Maxie.
And Dillon, Grace’s brother’s best friend, who stood her up on the night of her senior prom and has regretted it ever since. Dillon rents Grace’s guest house for the summer and hopes to make up for lost time and past hurts—but first, he’ll have to convince Grace that she’s worth loving…
Read an excerpt.