Thursday, January 21, 2016

LaVyrle Spencer - Small Town Girl

Eighteen years ago, young Tess McPhail left her tiny hometown of Wintergreen, Missouri, population
1,713. She headed for Nashville—and never looked back. Now one of country music’s brightest lights, “Mac” McPhail is a millionaire many times over. Her career is her life. At thirty-five, Mac has no time for marriage, children, or kinfolk—until her sisters insist she come home to help care for their widowed mother…Mac isn’t thrilled about spending a month in Wintergreen. But her visit home turns out to be far from dull. After almost two decades of public adoration, she is suddenly a nonperson—insulted by her jealous older sister, enraged by her intractable mother, and ignored by Kenny Kroneck, the next-door neighbor she mercilessly taunted all through high school. Now a handsome divorce who dotes on his teenage daughter, Kenny is widely respected in the community—and refuses to give Mac the time of day. But once she discovers that Kenny’s daughter is a promising country music talent, Mac assumes the role of mentor—and everything changes…
Gradually, the famous Mac McPhail becomes an integral part of life in Wintergreen. The priceless gifts of family and community open her heart to the sweet rewards of caring and commitment. And as the feigned indifference between Mac and Kenny turns to playful bickering, then passion, the complicated life of a superstar is forever changed—by the simple joys of love…

Comment: This is one of the last remaining books by LaVyrle Spencer I still had in my TBR list and I've decided to read this title this month. I had hopes it would be as magical and emotional as the other books by her I've read.
In this book we meet Tess McPhail, a 35 year old country music singer who goes back to her small town to help taking care of her mother, who is about to have a hip surgery. Tess's sisters have done it all before but now it's time for Tess to help too and not just sent things. While helping her mother, Tess also reconnects to Kenny Kronek, a man with whom she shared some childhood memories but that now seems to not give her any attention.
Tess needs to deal with many loose ends despite her security and money now, but what she didn't expect was the surprising voice of Casey, Kenny's teenage daughter, and how she decides to help her start a life in music. But will everything go as planned or are there more surprises in Tess' comeback?
To be honest, I thought this story would focus more on Tess' issues of coming back, of the things she let go off in order to be famous and successful in her career. But in reality she's quite happy about her life and the majority of the conflict isn't about how she feels about things but how she and Kenny fight sexual tension and try to be apart because they rationalize the difficulties would be too much for them. I liked this wasn't overly dramatic but everything was slightly easy.
The biggest drama, in my opinion, was about Kenny finally telling his long time girlfriend Faith about his love for Tess and even that wasn't as emotionally draining as I imagined. All in all, this was pretty easy to go through.
The book revolves around what it means for Tess to be rich an famous, what her work really entails besides giving concerts and what others expect of her because of her celebrity status. I assume much of this is told after some research but I don't think the right amount of focus was given to the sort of situations Tess realistically should have dealt with in the whole time she spent in her hometown. I guess the main reason is for us to focus on herself and her thoughts but somehow the whole story felt very tame and centered in one idea. I don't know but I suppose I can say I missed a bit more action, more something happening.
Apart from the things I wish could have been done different, the majority of the story reads easily, the characters are likable, there is no villain of misunderstanding going on. Tess' biggest adversary, in a way, ends up being her older sister Judy, who classically can't seem to deal with Tess's fame and even physical appearance. The subject is addressed at some point but there's no conclusion so no matter how interesting, it wasn't exactly that vital.
Tess and Kenny are antagonists at first but like grow ups end up talking and dealing with it (something not that common in romances!) pretty fast, so most of the relationship between them is dealing with attraction.
The romance had a slow pace and the HEA was believable despite the easiness of how everything was decided, and although I got happy about it, it wasn't as amazing as I imagined.
The best part of the book, for me, was Tess work details, I liked knowing more about her musician life and it was actually good to read about a sane person, someone who has a head on her shoulders and doesn't think of music as a means for fame, she has a business, she loves to sing and build her life and of many others around that. Also good was how friendly she was to Casey and helped her trying to start her dreams, even if at a small, achievable pace.
Overall, not my favorite book by the author, but interesting, I learned some things, the characters weren't good or bad, their layers gave them personality and in the end I was simply glad things turned out positively and happily as well. Yes, I'd change things but all things considered, this is a good enough read.
Grade: 7/10

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