Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Molly Harper - Rhythm and Bluegrass

Bonnie Turkle, multimedia historian for the Kentucky Commission of Tourism, is dispatched to Mud Creek, a tiny eastern Kentucky town, with few prospects but many oddballs, to rescue important artifacts from McBride’s Music Hall. Now fallen beyond disrepair, McBride’s was once a jewel of the early American music scene, an intersection of the country-western and rhythm and blues circuits. The former owner’s grandson, Will McBride, who also happens to be Mud Creek’s esteemed mayor, would like nothing more than to see the place bull-dozed in favor of a factory that will provide much-needed jobs to his citizens. But Bonnie finds evidence of a legendary musical event at the music hall and her plans to turn it into a museum put Mud Creek’s economic future at risk – not to mention the growing flirtation between the two of them. If Will and Bonnie can’t find common ground, the town’s past and future will be lost. 

Comment: This is the second book in the Bluegrass trilogy by author Molly Harper. I've read some book by this author and I've enjoyed almost all of them but I suppose she can be hit or miss for me. I really loved one of her series, then didn't like much the beginning of another and this trilogy, the first book was good enough but this one was one step below...

In this story we follow the work of Bonnie Turkle, the researcher we've heard about in the previous book. Bonnie has the job to travel all around the state looking for interesting and special things to present to the public, things to save and to update and she has known amazing things and people. Now she's going to Mud Creek, an almost abandoned small town that used to rely a lot on factories but the companies have left and the population is depressed and in need of hope and jobs.
Bonnie meets Will, the town's new  young mayor so he can help her with an old place that used to have live music and Bonnie hopes to find hidden gems that were left out when the placed closed down years ago. 
But the mayor has plans to that old site so when Bonnie sees she can use everything and make Mud Creek a point in the touristic Kentucky map, they clash and things don't go so well. Can Bonnie find a way to compromise?

This was a fun story but I have to say it wasn't as impressive to me as the previous one nor was it as amazing as other books by the author.
This story depends a lot on very specific Kentucky references and I confess I miss some of the fun because I can't follow certain things as easily. I also think the biggest problem here is the exaggeration of quirky situations and facts in detriment of a fictional romance. I felt I was swallowed with so many little details about Kentucky's people and about the small elements the author has thought about to make the characters and the setting so specific and apparently cute/fun, that I feel the focus wasn't where it should.

The main character, Bonnie, is resourceful and dedicated and I liked knowing some things about her personality and wishes. But neither her nor Will were as developed as I hoped and I certainly don't think they had the most interesting relationship possible. In fact, I can't understand why they would work out, they are too different and the way things end, although I can feel glad about the outcome I don't think it was stressed out as well as it could if they indeed have a future. Maybe the next book can show them happy or something but in long term it's difficult for me to imagine.
Will, I had  more trouble in empathizing with, just because his actions and how he was developed didn't seem to be as deeply explained as I would have wished.

The focus in the romance wasn't what I imagined but the plot wasn't as strong either. I did enjoy some situations and all the effort Bonnie went through to prove she was a professional and a good person but there is some sense of despair and difficulties when it came to the town itself that, despite interesting, wasn't used in the best way to ensure the  end had more meaning.
The HEA didn't convince me because it felt like Will and Bonnie didn't have much in common anyway. All these elements make this story feel a bit weak to me.

All things considered, this was a cute story but there was just too much information on things that, despite interesting, weren't that vital to the plot and some characterization was over the top. To compensate, the romance was weak and the main couple doesn't seem to fully match. I still had a good time reading but this wasn't as amazing as I hoped for.
Grade: 6/10

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