Jenni Beth Beaumont thought she left her broken heart in Chance, Georgia, when she moved away. But when she suddenly inherits her family’s beautiful, antebellum home, her dream of turning the residence into a wedding destination calls her back.
Cole Bryson, an architectural salvager and Jenni Beth’s former flame, intends to purchase and deconstruct the Beaumont family’s down-at-the-heels estate. To his surprise, Jenni Beth is more of a stubborn Southern girl than he thought. Cole will have to use all his sultry, steamy tricks to test more than the resolve of his sexy competition…
Lynnette Austin is an author who has that easy, natural style I love so much. The sort of author whose representation of the present day and present day twenty-somethings makes you believe in the characters. They live in the present, ACT like they live in the present, and it’s all so much better than most contemporary romance around at the moment.
Austin also creates an excellent atmosphere and transports you to different place. It was well done, even if I can’t agree with everything!
This is very much a romance set in the US South, and all that entails. The thoughts and actions and atmosphere are very, very Southern, down to references to Confederate flags and the “War of Northern Aggression”. These characters didn’t quite go as far as referring to people from further north as “Libtards”, but it was touch-and-go for a while there!
However, early on there was something niggling at me: the way the other female characters were being presented. While our hero had strong bonds and friendships with the male characters, our heroine did not. Her mother was emotionally absent, her friends non-existent, and the only non-grandma female we met was a brash, clichéd Northern woman we are told is like Fran Fine.
The hero’s ex-girlfriend was introduced:
A high-pitched giggle drifted from the front room. He hung his head. “Kimmie Atherton’s back?”
Beck nodded. “And newly divorced. Second time, too. She’s on the hunt, friend, and you and she have a history.”
“Cole!” like fingernails on a chalkboard, the excited shriek sent shudders rippling through him.
He winced and braced himself just in time. She took one leap and plastered herself to him like Saran Wrap on a bowl of his mama’s leftovers.
The rest of the scene involves Kimmie kissing him and giggling and being “seductive” and using filthy language and wearing short and low-cut clothes.
And then the hero’s friend reacts to her:
The expression on Beck’s face changed from cat-ate-the-canary to man-smelled-skunk.
I’m sorry, but this sort of misogyny and negative stereotyping of women is just not on! It’s done so frequently by romance authors I’m not even sure they realise they’re doing it half the time. Making this woman out to be so awful in order to make our heroine look better was totally unnecessary for the book.
It was hard, but I kept reading, because I really enjoy the author’s voice.
I said not all that long ago that authors tend to give their characters age-inappropriate hopes and dreams. Recently editors have been requesting that people stop sending them so many renovation romances – something I agree with because restoring old houses isn’t something people in their twenties tend to do!
Our hero and heroine are in their mid-twenties. This is not a point in most lives where people are running businesses and taking out massive loans to remodel mansions. I don’t see why the characters couldn’t have been five years older or so. It would have made more sense to me.
So, I have positives and negatives. Basically, this is a highly atmospheric book, and the author really is a very good writer. However, misogyny is something I cannot abide, and if I could edit it out of this book, I would highly recommend this one.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.