REVIEW: Radio Rose by Stephanie Berget
Radio Rose knows Martians aren’t real.
As a DJ for a late night talk show about aliens, she’d never admit to being a non-believer. Talking to crazies all night isn’t the perfect job for most people, but she’s happy with her solitary life. Until a middle of the night car crash and a blow to the head has her mistaking a stranger for a real life extra-terrestrial.
Adam Cameron, raised by his narcissistic grandfather for most of his childhood, made his escape from Tullyville, Colorado the day he turned eighteen. Forced to return ten years later for the reading of his grandfather’s will, he’s about to be pulled into a contest for a vast fortune and the future of a town he’d just as soon forget.
The small town of Tullyville is right next to Trinidad, Colorado, known as the sex change capital of the world, something neither Rose or Adam realized, but use to help their cause.
Relationships aren’t one of Rose’s strong points. Hell, she mistook the hot stranger for an alien the first time they met, but Adam needs help and she’s the woman to help him–maybe.
In a town filled with new found friends, Rose has to decide how far she’s willing to go to trust the loner.
Dear Ms. Berget,
Sometimes I’m not even sure what attracts me to a book. This blurb had just enough weirdness that I checked out the sample and liked the writing so much that I decided to give this one a go.
Whenever a character is given a head injury, I get worried about whether or not it will be played for laughs or for real. Thankfully it’s fairly well handled with concern for the consequences to Rose. The opening sequence might come off as kooky but given where they are and that Rose is a late night talk show host with a specialty in aliens, it’s not too far off. I had some suspicions about this but … well, nothing was ever resolved with a certain character.
I liked the easy friendship and camaraderie Adam and Rose soon develop. They can joke and laugh – the reasons Adam lays out for why it was better for him to break down her bathroom door and glimpse her naked for a few seconds vs not – are funny and a great example. But their relationship is neither perfect nor “romance cockeyed.” They’re still getting to know each other, can trip over pitfalls they don’t realize are there and though they feel some strong physical attraction, neither goes all gah-gah because of it. Soon, to his astonishment, Adam finds himself worrying over Rose getting to work and if her car, Miss Cool, will start. Adam doesn’t worry about people. He never worries about people. Until Rose, that is. Ah yes, the feelings have begun to grow.
Adam’s relationship with his grandfather sounds like a nightmare and I’m sure that there are details waiting to be revealed. His initial response to what he accurately pegs as the old man still trying to manipulate Adam from beyond the grave and most likely set Adam up for failure is to say “screw it.” Thankfully for all, the avaricious secretary who stand to inherit should he decline or fail shows her colors early on and he pauses. Rose’s clear eyed deduction that should Adam bail at this point, Lillian will most likely shut down the money losing businesses which the will stipulates Adam must manage for six months and turn a profit on and there’ll be a lot of people out of jobs and homes will be lost, stops him.
Now all they have to do is turn these turkeys around. Oh, and Adam has to finally realize that he isn’t the total loser the old bastard always drilled into him that he was plus Rose has to allow herself to trust and risk getting close to people. Can they be turned around too?
Adam does have confidence, he just needs to regain it in Tullyville which he associates with his grandfather and being beaten down his whole life. Rose might be small but she’s scrappy and intelligent. She nails Lillian in one meeting and has almost finished her physics degree. She’s also got a great scientist nerd t-shirt collection. The will is probably complete bullshit, legally speaking, but to fight it would cost money, and well, the jobs of those dependent on keeping the five businesses going.
The location of Tullyville so close to Trinidad might help turn things around too. If it were available to see, I’d recommend watching the 2008 documentary “Trinidad” to see why.
For me the strengths of the book are watching the rag tag band of followers – um, I mean the business owners, work together to pull their businesses back into the black. There’s no magic wand waved, no last minute cavalry riding to the rescue. Instead the changes seem realistic and grounded in good business practices. These people put the skin into it to save themselves. The growing friendship, confidence and pride in what they accomplish is lovely to watch happen.
The romance part didn’t gel quite so well. Adam lacks confidence and Rose has trust and abandonment issues. Their relationship slowly advances but once it becomes physical as well as friendly it goes a little bit haywire. These two can go from ebullient to downcast in 60 seconds flat. It’s either 70 miles an hour or leaving tire tread from the breaks being slammed on. Do I believe they’re falling in love? Yes. Are these back and forth fast swings in emotions and actions frustrating? Oh, yes. Based on their issues, their problems are believable but compressed into romance book time it makes for teeth gnashing reading. In the end, Adam changes (again) and goes for what he wants while Rose actually appears to have learned something from their relationship and matured. I can’t say I’m convinced they will last. C+