Always on My Mind
Narrated by Annie Greene
I haven’t read all of the books in the author’s Lucky Harbor series but have enjoyed those I have read. But while I completely enjoyed the narration in this latest entry, the story, while cute in parts, has a few too many flaws for me to recommend.
I thought I was going to like Always on My Mind more than I did in the early going. The narration shines for me in the opening sequence as our heroine, Leah Sullivan, has a witty conversation with two friends at the fire department’s pancake breakfast. The conversations between Leah and her female friends sound age and emotion-appropriate. When the women are sarcastic or joking that’s exactly how Ms. Green makes them sound. And the narration never falters throughout the book; it’s the romance that I have issues with.
Leah is temporarily home in Lucky Harbor to care for her grandmother post- knee surgery. A trained pastry chef, Leah is also running her grandmother’s bakery. However, the planned one-week stay in Lucky Harbor has now stretched to over a month, giving Leah the opportunity to see her teenage love, and supposed great friend, Jack Harper.
I say “supposed” great friend, because Leah and Jack’s relationship is one of the weakest parts of the book. Leah runs away from her troubles and years ago ran away when it seemed as if she and Jack were ready to have a real relationship. Supposedly they’ve remained great friends, staying in contact through text, phone, and email, but I didn’t feel it.
I could never get a real handle on Leah and Jack’s “relationship” and completely disliked the plot device in which Leah, spontaneously, tells Jack’s mother early on that the two are together, and thinks Jack won’t find out. Seriously? This is a small town and Jack’s caring for his mother through chemotherapy. It simply made no sense.
For the remainder of the book, Jack and Leah go back and forth too frequently (sometimes within a matter of minutes) as to whether theirs is a pretend only relationship, pretend with sex, or perhaps could be real. Pretty quickly I just didn’t care. However, I had no problems with the narration of their relationship. I never doubted whether it was Jack or Leah speaking, and their voices and thoughts clearly echo the emotions they are feeling.
There’s a lot going on in this book: flashbacks to Leah’s participation in a reality show pastry competition, Jack’s mother’s fight with breast cancer, Leah’s issues with her now dead father and her grandmother’s recovery from surgery, an arsonist, and numerous characters interacting with both Leah and Jack. Ms. Greene gives a lot of attention to detail in the voices of all the secondary characters. For example, Jack’s mother’s voice resonates with the weariness and frequent illness chemotherapy patients experience.
Maybe if there had been a bit less going on (in particular the arsonist plot), there might have been more time to show a believable, consistent relationship between Leah and Jack. As it was, pages and pages went on without the two together.
Was this an awful read? Definitely not. But it’s just not memorable. If you’ve loved all of Jill Shalvis’ entries in the Lucky Harbor, series you may like the story more than I did, and I’m confident you’ll enjoy the narration. For me, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for other romances narrated by Annie Greene. She made an average, at times irritating, story much more enjoyable.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: A- and Book Content: C
Unabridged. Length – 9 hours 29 minutes