REVIEW: Take a Chance on Me by Jane Porter
Savvy stylist Amanda Wright loves Marietta, her hair salon, and her clients, and no client is more dear to her heart than eighty-year-old Bette Justice–even if her years have made her a little fragile. So when Bette asks Amanda to help her convince her determined grandson, Tyler, a successful game designer, that Marietta is the right home for Bette, Amanda can’t say no.
Tyler Justice has a one-track mind–he wants to take care of his beloved grandmother. He can’t understand her resistance to move to Texas and is sure that the young friend she keeps mentioning–Amanda–is taking advantage of his grandmother’s generosity. He reaches Marietta determined to put the salon owner in her place and bring his grandmother home…until smart, kind Amanda starts to tug at his heart in ways he never expected.
But just as Tyler and Amanda start to form a real connection, will a long-buried family secret destroy their chance at love?
Dear Ms. Porter,
I’ve dipped my toes in the various series that Tule has released about Marietta, Montana. They are small town romances but they aren’t just cutesy. What made me want to try this story is that Amanda is a hair stylist and salon owner – a profession I haven’t read much about. One thing I do like about these Marietta stories is that usually one if not both lead characters are not filthy rich. Instead they’re often working class people just trying to get by.
Initially I wasn’t sure how to peg Tyler. He’s a successful online games designer but he doesn’t blow into town in his private jet. In fact he grumbles a bit about how far into nowhere Marietta is and the number of travel connections he’s forced to take to get there. But he does love his grandmother and is trying to look after her and convince her to leave the cold of Montana to live with him in Texas. To be honest, Tyler didn’t impress me at first glance. He was all about getting everything how he wanted it to be and seemed tone deaf about how much his grams loved her town, her friends and her active social life. I couldn’t help but wonder if Tyler loves her so much, why he hadn’t visited her more and why he didn’t seem to hear anything she said.
The reason for his sudden visit is stylist Amanda Wright whom Tyler suspects is a scam artist out to fleece grandma. Tyler does have the grace to keep his suspicions to himself when he first meets her but soon after he has no hesitation in letting her know that he suspects her of trying to finagle Bette out of her money. This hits Amanda hard as her family was poor and she grew up as the poor white trash of the town. She’s made something of herself and after getting her college degree has opened her own business with plans on expanding it. I loved seeing her as a savvy businesswoman. For this stranger to pop into town and accuse her of taking advantage of a woman Amanda sees as a beloved friend hurts her.
Both Tyler and Amanda immediately realize that determined Bette wants to see them together and after their rocky start, they begin to relax as the relationship gets closer. But Amanda wants to stay in Marietta and Tyler isn’t sure he sees this as anything but a pit stop before he hauls granny off to Texas. Then things flip and suddenly Tyler changes his mind and starts to look at the town with new eyes. Meanwhile the dreaded Secret from the Past appears and Amanda pours out how horribly the town thought of her growing up and how at one time she wishes she’d left.
The about-face for Tyler seemed more like a plot device while it became clear that Amanda is still hauling around a whole lot of negative feelings for this town she says she never wants to leave. Plus she says that she’s known everyone in town all her life and I began to wonder if her clients were the very people who used to think badly of her.
The dreaded secret isn’t that hard to figure out and it unleashes a lot of angst and hurt – years worth – that is too quickly swept away. Then Tyler and Amanda figure out Bette’s tactics to get them together and I must say that I found them questionable given what Bette knows about Amanda’s family and Amanda’s own determination to rise above her past. Okay the result is a HEA but it left a bad taste in my mouth. C