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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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REVIEW:  My Bluegrass Baby by Molly Harper

REVIEW: My Bluegrass Baby by Molly Harper

“Sadie Hutchins loves her job at the Kentucky Tourism Commission. She loves finding the unusual sites, hidden gems, and just-plain-odd tourist attractions of her home state. She’s a shoo-in for the director’s job when her boss retires at the end of the year…until hotshot Josh Vaughn shows up to challenge her for the position. Josh is all sophisticated polish while Sadie’s country comfort, and the two have very different ideas of what makes a good campaign. So when their boss pits them against each other in a winner-takes-all contest, they’re both willing to fight dirty if it means getting what they want. But it turns out, what Josh and Sadie want could be each other—and Josh’s kisses are the best Kentucky attraction Sadie’s found yet!”

Dear Ms. Harper,

What a cute little book. And I’m not just saying that because I lived in the heart of the Bluegrass horse country for years during my obligatory horse mad stage – and if you’re horse mad, then living surrounded by Kentucky horse farms is the best place to be. It also made me a UK fan for life. I’d wanted to try another of your books ever since I’d loved “And One Last Thing” (and I did notice the tiny shout out to it in this book) so when Jane featured this one as a Daily Deal, I jumped on it.

bluegrass-babySadie likes quirky rather than is quirky which slightly subverts the Chick Lit style book heroine. She’s not above getting even with Josh nor is he too high minded to keep from trying to play with her mind – though I was also glad to see her outgoing boss call them both in for a Come to Jesus Meeting about it. Thankfully her assistant also reigns her in and she agrees with it and this is over. Though the book has Chick Lit aspects, I wouldn’t say it truly fits the genre. Yes, it’s first person but Sadie loves her job and is good at it, doesn’t go all prat-fallish around the Josh, and lives in a cute little duplex rather than a grotty bedsit.

The conflict between the two isn’t too outlandish – competition for a job that they are well qualified for and current employee vs “who you know” are well established ways of getting a job. I like the fact that despite a rocky start, they can act (eventually) maturely and work well together as professionals. The field trips and promos that their office staff go on sound like a blast too though I’ll skip the historical accurate corsetry. And that the way the conflict is resolved says something for how much Josh feels for Sadie and how honorable a person he is. He doesn’t want her dreams compromised but does need a bit of space to process. Totally okay with me.

The book finishes with a great job acceptance and proposal (?) scene.

“What changed your mind?”

“I went back home to see my family, turned off the phone, and thought it through. I missed you. I missed this office and the people here. Everybody else I know is too damn normal. I don’t want to work with anyone else. I want to work with you.”

“Thanks,” I scoffed, trying to pull away from him to smack him or something, but he just held me tighter. “You’re sure you really want to work for me? It’s not exactly running your own firm. I don’t want to make you give up your dream.”

“Dreams can change, especially when you had them for the wrong reasons,” he said. “Besides, what good would it do, running my own firm, when I wouldn’t be able to take the team with me? I’d have secretaries who could make nonchewable coffee, interns without distinct personality disorders. Where’s the fun? I want to be with you. I want to work with you and watch you achieve these bizarre, wonderful visions of yours.”

I love a hero who can appreciate his heroine’s bizarre, wonderfulness. For me this is a short, sweet little book that reminds me how much I miss Kentucky and looks to be the start of a fun new series. B

~Jayne

 

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