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REVIEW & Giveaway: Marry Me by Jo Goodman

Goodman is a very favorite author of mine. I know she’s not an author for every reader, but I look forward to each one of her books. Goodman is not much for self promotion and so she sent Robin (aka Janet) 8 ARCs and 8 cover flats for her December release, Marry Me, and asked if we wanted to give them away. An opportunity to expose new readers to a favorite author is one of the best things about running Dear Author. Robin and I roped in another reader to give us a review because we thought DA would like a fresh perspective. Sonoma Lass agreed to perform this task for us and here is her review. If you want a copy of Goodman’s book, Marry Me, leave us a comment and let us know why this book interests you.

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Dear Ms. Goodman,

It was nice to revisit Reidsville, Colorado and its colorful cast of supporting characters, now rounded out by the addition of Cole Monroe, a handsome and single young doctor, and his younger sister Whitley. (Marry Me is set in the same frontier community as Goodman’s previous book, Never Love A Lawman.)   I can’t get enough of romances in American historical settings.

Marry Me by Jo GoodmanIt is challenging to write about this book without spoilers; you’ve written a story with some pretty big surprises, and I want every reader to experience them as I did, totally without warning.   So here is what I think I can safely say.

First, I really like both the hero and the heroine. Cole is intelligent and capable, committed to both the welfare of his patients and the integrity of his profession.   Rhyne is at a huge disadvantage dealing with him, in terms of education, sophistication, socio-economic class and experience. But he sees this and works to make her feel comfortable, encouraging her to ask questions and recognizing her intellect and potential. He admires her strength and bravery; in turn, she comes to see ways in which she can act as his equal, offering him help and support that eventually develop into a believable partnership.

Rhyne has many obstacles to overcome. Not only does she feel inferior to and unworthy of Cole in some ways, she also has experiences in her past that have put her out of touch with her femininity, her sexuality, even her identity.   (You handle these issues with sensitivy and insight.) It easy for her to admire, respect and value Cole; the challenge is for her to value herself enough to feel like a worthy partner for him.

Another thing that really worked for me in this book was the balance between plot and character.   The first three-quarters of the book is devoted to the development of Cole and Rhyne’s relationship, which mostly occurs in the context of “everyday” interactions and events.   Once they have established a foundation of loving trust, the action picks up to encompass more external obstacles, providing the characters with a challenge to overcome together. As a reader, I appreciate this. It is easier for me to accept a happy ending when I’ve seen the hero and heroine functioning as a couple. Plus it allows me to enjoy them doing so in more than just a brief epilogue.

As usual, you write interesting and unique minor characters. It’s fun to see the couples from the earlier book reappear as integral to the story, rather than as “walk-on” figures.   The Western setting is done well. I like how you evoke and develop the feeling of a small frontier town and the values and priorities that predominate when people are interdependent.

I fully enjoyed the length of this book. You took time to tell the story and develop the characters, and I never felt rushed or sensed a short-cut.   The end of the book was a little odd for me; I felt that you could have ended it in several places, and a couple of times I was actually surprised that the story wasn’t over.   But each of those final scenes tied up another loose end, so while I would gladly read more stories set in Reidsville, I won’t feel that there’s unfinished business if you don’t return there.

Looking back, I see that this review is very serious in tone. That’s because this booked awed me, but I don’t want to give the impression that there’s no humor in the book. On the contrary, there are some delightfully humorous moments in the book, along with some that are tender and some that are touching. My emotional responses to this book really ran the gamut, with the notable exception of never being angry or disappointed with the central characters. Not that they were perfect, but they acted in character and with a level of nobility of spirit that I truly appreciate in romance heroes of both genders.

Grade: A

~Sonoma Lass

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