Dear Ms. Hailstock,
I have been looking forward to sharp tongued Samara finding love with persistent Joshua for months now – well, ever since Samara’s sister Cinnamon’s book. But, alas, I’m afraid it didn’t live up to my hopes for it.
Samara is marriage shy. Actually not just shy but phobic. You’ve given her some concrete reasons in that so many of her family and friends are on their second and third attempts. That plus the national marriage statistics make the effort looked doomed to failure and filled with heartache. So, Samara decides to play it smart and enjoy dating but with no intention of ever tying the knot.
Joshua knows quickly that Samara is The One for him. He’s one of the divorce statistics and the fact that he was married when he first began pursuing her, though separated and already having filed for divorce, turns Samara off. Okay, that’s understandable. Then their attempts at dating get screwed the next few times he asks her out. With his job, again, I can see it. His ex does sound like a piece of work.
But he persists and keeps after Samara in a way that is unique and shows he knows what’s important to her, namely old documents. Now this was genius on his part and impressed me, too. Here’s a woman who lives for old documents and even works in the National Archives – and how cool is that? – so he uses “aged” invitations to dates.
But, though I can understand that Samara is leery of marriage, after a while, I got sick and tired of her waffling. And I’m surprised it took Joshua as long as it did to join me in this thought. He pursues, she declines, he continues, she gives in, they date, they feel more than a spark, she gets twitchy, she backs off and tells him “that’s it, no more, we’re finished,” he pursues and she gives in. As they say, “wash, rinse and repeat.” A hundred pages of this gets old quickly.
Then she reports all this to her friends and wishy-washes some more. He’s hot, he’s nice, he’s got a good job, he loves her but oh noes! the statistics. She can’t possibly take the risk as it’s doomed – doomed! I tell you – to failure. If I’d been one of her friends, I would have been smacking her with one of the menus from the places they met to eat.
I found myself more interested in her job in the archives – and thank you for including more of this aspect of her life than we saw of Cinnamon’s job. More interested in the details of DC, more interested in the painting that Joshua wants restored for his parent’s 40th wedding anniversary – and where did this subplot go to? A build up to something interesting, namely potential war bounty from, I would assume, the Nazi theft of art around WWII then, poof! that’s over with little fanfare.
One thing that did make me happy was that Joshua changes his job. Not necessarily for Samara but the switch would benefit their time together. As he kept missing date after date, I wondered if this had impacted his last marriage and thought it didn’t bode well for any future one. But he saves himself from burn out, gets a promotion up in government ranks and gets to work at the White House too. Cool deal.
Cinnamon and Mac appear just enough that I know they’re happy and their parts here support this book and its characters.
I also wish the cover art, though lovely, had utilized one of the descriptions of the antique wedding dresses in the book.
Sad to say that instead of a smart, sophisticated contemporary, I got a repetitive and ultimately boring story that left me feeling that the heroine wasn’t too smart – or was perhaps too smart for her own good – and a hero who appeared to having something for masochistic behavior. C-