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REVIEW: Rhythm and Bluegrass by Molly Harper

 

Kentucky Tourism Commission employee Bonnie Turkle is up Mud Creek without a paddle. When she gets permission from the state historical society to restore the McBride’s Music Hall to its former glory, she thinks the community will welcome her with open arms. But instead, her plans interfere with a proposal to sell the property to a factory that would bring much-needed jobs to the town.

Even though it’s his family’s heritage Bonnie is trying to preserve, Mayor Will McBride is more concerned with the welfare of his people than memories of the past. Even though Will finds her optimistic sentimentality extremely annoying, he can’t stop himself from kissing Bonnie senseless.

With an inspection deadline looming, and local saboteurs ruining her restoration, Bonnie must find a way to compromise with Will to save McBride’s, and hopefully get more kisses in the process.

Dear Ms. Harper,

I was hoping you’d continue this charming series and I got my wish. However you switched up heroines on me and here’s fair warning that when Kelsey gets her turn, I expect fireworks of romance. She deserves it. In the meantime, I enjoyed dedicated historian Bonnie creating a slow burn with Roadside Cowboy/Mayor Will McBride as they enjoy burgoo and save Mud Creek, Kentucky.

Rhythm and Bluegrass by Molly HarperI’ve spoken with Jane and some of the other reviewers here and expressed my viewpoint on the “heroine goes all out to save Moose Spit, Montana” plot. Generally those gives me hives. Had I not already been vested in this series, I might have popped an antihistamine after reading the blurb. Mud Creek is only a short distance from Mud Flap on the register of cutesy small town names but once heroine Bonnie got within fire station response of this town, all thoughts of cute fled.

These people are feisty, proud of their town yet practical too. Bonnie’s decision to fast track the old music hall into a museum instead of merely salvaging what she can to send to other places doesn’t sit well when they’re the ones who might lose the jobs they desperately need to keep the town alive. But despite the blurb, no one physically sabotages anything, thank goodness. They just let her and the Kentucky Tourism office know their thoughts in no uncertain terms. Yet it’s this conflict that brings out Bonnie’s best efforts. There has to be a way for both sides to win and she knuckles down and finds it. Once she does, the town steps up and acknowledges her efforts.

I like that aside from an unflattering newspaper article and some pointed letters, no one gets ugly to her face. These people are civilized adults and not whack jobs. We also see Bonnie hard at work at what she loves and does best – saving the past but in a way that’s interesting and not dry as dust. She wants to do right by the Music Hall and also the people of the town she’s coming to feel home in and that comes through in her actions and in the telling of the story.

There has to be a romance though and this is a good one. Bonnie and Will meet over the flaming wreck of her SUV and instantly sparks of attraction fly. They get to talk and laugh and dance and talk a lot more as Bonnie peels back the layers behind Will’s opposition to the museum. He has good reasons beyond merely being stubborn because the plot needs it. Bone deep reasons color his actions yet those items never change the way he’s starting to feel about Bonnie, even as he tries to derail the idea he thinks will be the death knell of the town and people he loves. When things turn out otherwise, he mans up and admits it and is willing to let Bonnie reach for what he thinks she wants in life.

Bonnie, however, wants Will and by the time the smoking hot – yet also fun – sex arrives, it means something to their relationship and to me. I’m invested enough that it’s not just empty “3 pages of bed bopping by pg 50.” They’ve built something deeper by then and the wait for the payoff is so worth it.

I am delighted with book two in the this series, happy to recommend it and waiting impatiently for who’s next. B+

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

11 Comments

  1. Sally W.
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 09:49:45

    I really like the previous book, so I will be buying this one. Thanks, Jayne.

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  2. lorelai
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 11:40:50

    I didn’t realize the “heroine goes all out to save Moose Spit, Montana” plot was a thing but the first thing I thought when I read the blurb was how similar it sounded to Victoria Dahl’s “Too Hot to Handle”.

    ReplyReply

  3. Louise Dabney Grinnan
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 11:57:20

    I too liked the first book in the series and am glad to hear this one is a winner too. It’s hard to write small town South and not make it either stupid or syrupy.

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  4. Renda
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 12:27:15

    I enjoyed the first one, but sometimes it seemed more a paean to the great state of Kentucky than a novel.

    That being said, I did keep a running list of places to visit and things to see if we ever get to Kentucky.

    Molly Harper’s voice was a bit different in the first of these, of course, than her vampire/werewolf offerings; but it was still an enjoyable, humorous voice. Her characters were mature and not once did I want to thump a one of them.

    I do look forward to reading this one; and I, too, am really looking forward to Kelsey’s story. I adored her in the first one.

    ReplyReply

  5. Rebecca (Another one)
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 13:49:12

    @lorelai:
    I was wondering why the premise sounded familiar. That said I’ll probably try this one anyway.

    ReplyReply

  6. Susan
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 14:21:48

    I hadn’t heard of these books before but they sound good–and the price is right. Thx.

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  7. Jayne
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 18:18:00

    @Renda: Since the hook of the series is that the characters work for the Tourism Board, I just suck up the paean part. I’ve never read any of her paranormals – just don’t have the time to go back and start at the beginning of the series – but I’ve enjoyed these books and the other contemporary she’s written.

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  8. Jayne
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 18:19:33

    @Louise Dabney Grinnan: I agree that it’s hard to get a nice balance on the small Southern town but Harper manages it nicely here.

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  9. Jayne
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 18:28:52

    @Susan: Depending on what the prices for both books are, I think you could start with this one and go back and, if you want, pick up the first one later and not be lost.

    ReplyReply

  10. Rachel
    Oct 12, 2013 @ 01:55:29

    It seems odd to me that the books in this series, which I can find on Amazon only as e-books and not print, appear to have geographical restrictions, as I am unable to purchase either of them. I can’t even add them to my wishlist.

    ReplyReply

  11. Jayne
    Oct 12, 2013 @ 07:03:26

    @Rachel: And B&N has the nook ebook listed as a novella – which it isn’t. And I can’t find it at the Book Depository either. Stranger and stranger. Does the publisher not want to sell it in print at all?

    ReplyReply

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