Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Molly Harper - My Bluegrass Baby

Sadie Hutchins loves her job at the Kentucky Tourism Commission. Not only could her co-workers double as the cast of Parks & Recreation, but she loves finding the unusual sites, hidden gems, and just-plain-odd tourist attractions of her home state. She’s a shoo-in for the director’s job when her boss retires at the end of the year…until hotshot Josh Vaughn shows up to challenge her for the position.
Josh is all sophisticated polish while Sadie’s country comfort, and the two have very different ideas of what makes a good campaign. So when their boss pits them against each other in a winner-takes-all contest, they’re both willing to fight dirty if it means getting what they want. But it turns out, what Josh and Sadie want could be each other—and Josh’s kisses are the best Kentucky attraction Sadie’s found yet!

Comment: Since I've found this author I've been curious about her writing and one of her series was quite good and I enjoyed that trilogy a lot, while another book wasn't as interesting to me. I had hopes about her contemporary romances and I've decided to add those to my list. This month, I finally got to the first one.
It was also handy this was a buddy read...sadly my buddy read friend hasn't got the time to read lately so I read this alone. But well, I would anyway!

In this story we meet some of the workers of the Kentucky Tourism Comission and the trilogy revolves around them. In this first story we focus on Sadie Hutchins, the director's assistant who, when the book begins, is certain - and her boss told her so - she will get a promotion. But, in a surprising twist, the boss of them all has another name lined up, Josh Vaughn, some guy she never met and who she thinks won't get the identity of Kentucky people and their quirky habits.
The battle begins and after many childish warfare tactics, Josh and Sadie agree on a compromise to see who will be the best person for the job. But can they work together after all?

I liked this book, I think it was entertaining, fluid, easy, had many interesting facts and notions, especially about Kentucky, the characters were as amusing as most of the authors' characters are. I just think the main characters didn't seem to have as much chemistry as one would expect.

The plot is quite funny, the situations while Josh and Sadie fight/battle over who does what or who gains the office warfare are cute, as are several situations where they get involved but in terms of actual plot development not much happens. The idea one of them will get the director's job is a good base to all this but the development doesn't always match up. Still, getting to learn many interesting factoids about Kentucky and how costumes vs tourist's expectations is a real issue was great. I work in tourism so that side of the plot was one of the things I liked the best.

The personal relationship between Josh and Sadie was sadly weak, in my opinion. The story is told from Sadie's POV and this is an author's trademark after all, but again, I feel it was such a pit because so many things would have been better presented with a 3rd person narrator. We lose so many things not having Josh's POV and I think that Sadie isn't always a character I want to be close to. Not that she is a bad person, in fact she quite realistic, but I think we don't know her that well and that's bad because, by consequence, we don't know Josh either. I can't tell if it's the author herself choosing this or if Sadie as a character simply isn't that interesting....
The romance is cute, there are some sweet scenes, especially when they bond and later on when they become friends, but in terms of passion and chemistry I feel something is lacking. I'm glad for them but their personalities never made me cheer them endlessly. 

The secondary characters were all very interesting, all of them as quirky as Kentucky itself and I felt very curious about them all and will look forward to see them in the next books as well. Because we get only Sadie's POV, I'm particularly interested in the characters she interacted the most with. I think that Sadie's relationship with her friends was stronger than with Josh, which tells me a lot about where the focus was or how lacking the romance ended up being for me.

All things considered, it's always obvious this is a book by Molly Harper, there's fun and fluidity in her writing but in this case I think the romance just wasn't as well used as she could. Maybe the page length had something to do with it, but it was too straight in the rules, they were enemies, then they weren't...I just never felt they had to be together in the end...
Still, a good effort.
Grade: 7/10

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