I stared at the screen for… hours. Okay, it was probably only a few minutes, but long enough for him to notice when I reached for my tablet and the insanely addicting game on it.
“I thought you’ve been looking forward to reading that book.”
“For weeks, right?”
Could he have dug the knife in any deeper? I shrugged. “Yeah—ever since I signed up to read it, actually.”
“So why aren’t you reading?”
I closed the tablet and stared at the screen again, the title taunting me.
“It’s not going to be as good as the first one I read. How do I review a book fairly when it has something that amazing to follow?”
Once again, he proved why I should just talk about stuff when I’d prefer to ignore it. “So pretend you haven’t read the other one. Give this one a fair shot—like you’d want someone to give your next book after the one they think is the best you could ever write.”
So I did. I really did. And you know what? I was right. Charming the Troublemaker WASN’T as good as Just the Way You Are… for ME. It might be better for other folks.
Remember those “stick-your-head-in-the-freezer” kisses? Yeah. You’d better buy a commercial walk-in for this one. Just sayin’. Or maybe menopause just finally arrived. Oh, please, Lord Jesus. Let it be that.
Ya know what? The book was charming, though. It was.
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Just What Makes Troublemakers So Crazy Charming, Anyway?
Maybe it was the fact that I just got back from this part of the country—no, really. I just drove through the beautiful hills of Appalachia from Atlanta all the way to Johnson City, Tennessee and back down again. I spent four glorious days in the heart of it all—a tiny, barely-on-any-map place called Buladean.
At my annual retreat. At The Barn. Heaven on earth, I assure you.
But I don’t think so.
I think it’s because somehow Pepper Basham manages to take all the things that make me cringe in books and not even care about them. You know, kisses, and tingles, and warm fuzzies, and those never-ending kisses. Did I mention the kisses? Seriously, Fred Savage didn’t have to put up with anything in The Princess Bride.
No, I’m not exaggerating. Seriously, how many times did I have to swipe the screen to get past kisses that sizzled more than bacon in a cast-iron skillet? Oh, and let me tell you: Rainey can wield one with skills that would totally impress Rapunzel. Just sayin’!
But she did it. The ornery woman did it. I sat there riveted to a screen that only got quick swipes when the spit-swappin’ got a little heavy for these innocent mother-of-nine’s eyes.
She did it with things like characters who steal your heart.
Like little girls who are just too sweet for words—little girls who remind me of a combination of both of my granddaughters. Or how about heroes who are flawed but oh, so willing to brandish a sword anyway? Spunky girls who are just broken enough to make you want to give them every bit of drippy romance they probably need to get past their… well… pasts!
She did it with a supporting cast that makes you feel right at home. Seriously, I am convinced Mama Mitchell is behind the reason that my trek to Denny’s at 2:30 a.m. in our cold wind (my version of the freezer, I assure you) failed. Bug night.
Can’t have food for another hour, so here I sit back at the Lighthouse, writing this review to earn some food. She wanted it done right. I’m sure of it. And she’ll make sure the cook over there gets my BLT right. I’m sure of it. (Note: 3 hours later. Mama Mitchell failed me. She actually did. No avocado. She’s fired. Just sayin’.)
And she did it with lines that made me snicker: Lucky for him she spoke fluent jerk.
Guffaw: She twirled her pen in her hand. “Coffee? Tea? A conscience?”
And even managed to throw in one of my favorite movie lines… a nice little ditty about fitting into pants… and my most hated movie ending line ever. Yeah. Rescues him right back. Seriously? She did that?
And dad burn it, but she made it work.
Okay, not really. But kind of.
And then she tied it all up in one lovely, perfect little one-liner bow: “I suddenly feel ready to fight a novel full of dragons.”
Look, if you hate mush as much as I do, and you really hate skipping over kisses because you can’t stand to read them, this isn’t the book for you. It just isn’t. Then again, I would have to tell you this book isn’t for me. It’s not.
But it so is. Only Pepper Basham can write almost 300 pages of utter mushy drivel and make me glad I read it.
In fact, only Pepper Basham can do that and make me eager to read her next one—mush and all.
But if, after reading this review, she gets the deluded idea that she’ll convert me to utter romantic nonsense… well, she’ll be one very disappointed lady.
However, thanks to great characters and witty dialogue, she’s converted me to hers.
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