BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Always the Baker Never the Bride

     Book Blurb: They say you can't have your cake and eat it too. But who would want a cake they couldn't eat?

Just ask Emma Rae Travis about that. She's a baker of confections who is diabetic and can't enjoy them. When Emma meets Jackson Drake, the escapee from Corporate America who is starting a wedding destination hotel to fulfill a dream that belonged to someone else, this twosome and their crazy family ties bring new meaning to the term "family circus." The Atlanta social scene will never be the same!

My Thoughts: I had never heard of Ms. Bricker before nor of the publisher, Abingdon Press, but when I read the story synopsis it sounded interesting. It's a straight up contemporary romance. There's no mystery or suspense, nothing paranormal or mythological, not even any sex. That seems to be an increasingly rare story in the romance genre these days. What I didn't realize is that Abingdon Press is a Christian Publisher, which certainly explains why it's a "regular" romance, hold the sex. I have no problem with the lack of sex; I enjoy stories both with and without, as long as they are well done. I wasn't entirely comfortable with the amount of religion in the story.

     To be fair, the amount of the story talking about God, Jesus, salvation, etc was maybe 5-10 pages in a 300 page book and it fits in with the story. But, maybe because I was not prepared for it, I felt very uncomfortable with it. That aside, the story is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon or evening,

     The characters were all very likable, and felt real, for the most part. Bricker did have trouble at times fleshing out some of the secondary characters, particularly the ones who she tried to pass off as being difficult.. Jackon's sisters are supposed to be overbearing and  terrifying, we are told this repeatedly, but we don't really see it except for small glimpses. The same is true of Emma's parents: separated for 15+ years, supposedly fireworks go off when they are in a room together, and chaos will reign. We never see that nor do we see why Emma is so uncomfortable with them. I could never buy into their supposed marital problems or allegedly overwhelming personalities.

     The other disappointment for me was the Southern setting. I don't know if Bricker has lived in the South or if she spent any time in Atlanta researching the city, but the story could really be set pretty much anywhere. There's very little in the way of Southern flavor or details specific to Atlanta. One detail that she does get right is Atlanta's love of the phrase "peachtree". I spent 3 days in Atlanta on a business trip several years ago and I swear, every other street name had "peachtree" in it and so did numerous businesses, eateries, etc. My colleagues and I joked about for weeks afterward. Sadly, one thing that she gets very wrong is the accent. Most of the time, she ignores it and doesn't try for it (a good choice really since it's very hard to accurately write a regional accent or dialect) but once in a while she remembers that the story is  set in the South and throws in a word that's is supposed to be a Southernism, We know this because they are always italicized. I lived 6 years in Virginia and have relatives scattered throughout the South; it would have been better if she ignored the accent or, instead of writing it, described it. For instance, instead of writing bruthah, she could have written it normally and added a description along the lines of "Norma drew out her words, softening and lengthening her syllables."

     Bricker takes her time developing the relationship and the romanced between Emma and Jackson and their doubts and hesitations ring true. It's not all roses and moonbeams but neither is it one trial after another. Bricker manages to avoid many of the genre cliches which makes for a very pleasant read.  I liked that Emma had a backbone even while she had her doubts and worries, and that Jackson was not a dominant, "alpha" male but just your garden variety male, juggling love, life, work and family. There's no big crises, a few minor ones, including an aunt of Emma's who has developed Alzheimer's. The scenes with Aunt Sophie are mostly humorous, with an undertone of sadness, and add depth to Emma's character.

In all, it's a pleasant, light romance.

Publisher: Abingdon Press
Release Date: September 1st, 2010

This story was provided as an e-arc from NetGalley.  

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