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Kentucky

REVIEW:  Snow Falling on Bluegrass by Molly Harper

REVIEW: Snow Falling on Bluegrass by Molly Harper

Snow-Falling-on+Bluegrass

NOTE – this series is in e or audio only.

A love triangle of colleagues heats up the winter lodge where they get snowed in for a week.

Kentucky Tourism Commission employee and executive assistant extraordinaire Kelsey is known around the office for having everything under control. So it’s not surprising that she and her boss, Sadie, have everything planned to the second for the office winter retreat. But there are things even Kelsey can’t micromanage.

An unprecedented snowstorm smothers half of Kentucky and knocks out the power, closes the roads, and generally shuts down the state. Luckily, the lodge has working fireplaces and enough food to keep the staff from turning on each other like something out of The Shining. Kelsey wouldn’t mind being stuck inside if it wasn’t for the tension with her not-so-secret crush, Charlie, the office’s statistician. But handsome Ranger Luke, the lodge’s only employee on hand, is there to take Kelsey’s mind off her discomfort.

Even though this weekend is supposed to be a planning session for KTC, Kelsey can’t help her mind from wandering and finds herself conflicted over Luke and Charlie. Someone’s love will keep her warm, but whose will it be?

Dear Ms. Harper,

Somehow this one escaped my notice when it was released but as soon as I knew it was out, I was all over it. This is the third book in this series but the previous two are only briefly and succinctly recapped. Both h/h’s appear here but are included to show how their relationships are progressing rather than merely to hawk their book. I’ve been waiting for Kelsey’s book and you answered my need to know if she was finally going to get shot of her deadbeat, loser boyfriend and hook up with the hot, geeky guy at work.

Only technically things don’t happen “at work.” Asshole Boyfriend Darrell has already exited the scene leaving Kelsey with a fistful of unpaid bills he’s run up in her name even before the entire staff of Kelsey’s workplace leaves for their annual retreat – thank God my work place doesn’t have these Kumbaya/survival meetings from hell – just as Snowpocalypse hits the state. It seems that the characters of this series often need to be in enforced proximity with potential loved ones in order to work out their issues but this isolation is taking it to extremes.

As the story kicks off, I am loving Kels’ snark and humor. She makes me laugh with her worries that if zombies ever happened, she’d be attacked while in the shower thus becoming the only naked zombie with a loofah. When the lights go out and her coworkers begin to panic like barnyard fowl, she lightens the mood with conjectures on which of them would get eaten first if they run out of food.

But she has her focused moments of defending her boss Sadie against attacks from outside staffers sent to “monitor” them, getting the staff organized for Life without Electricity, and vowing to get to know her coworkers better. Kelsey’s genius is organization and we see her hard at work throughout the two week snowbound retreat.

As with the first two books, this is a paean to the great state of Kentucky – which I happen to love anyway so I don’t mind reading more about it – but haters or those uninterested in learning more about the Bluegrass Commonwealth beware.

What is the deal with Charlie? Since story is from Kelsey’s POV, his thoughts and motivations and intentions are hidden. When he finally tells Kelsey how he feels, it’s nice, it’s great, it’s wonderful for her but I did shake my head a little and wonder how two people could so totally miss their signals. For years.

Kelsey is definitely not an isolated heroine in that she has strong relationships with two of her female co-workers and 4 tech/nerd male neighbors. Even though she mentions some ditsy past moments, she’s also good and effective at her job thus avoiding one of my pet peeves – The Pratfall Heroine for Comic Effect.

The story is racing along and going well once Kelsey and Charlie get their signals clear only to suddenly bog down with a Big Mis. Then this gets cleared up and I’m left shaking off Plot Whiplash and wondering why those short few pages of misunderstanding were needed. Once the staffers are back in civilization, the other lingering issue on Kelsey’s life gets taken care of – thankfully in more or less legal fashion – and the HEA shines brightly as I power down my ereader. Without the Big Mis this one would have been a higher grade for me but with it, I’m afraid it dips to a B-

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Rhythm and Bluegrass by Molly Harper

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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