Not the Marrying Kind
I’ve always found Hailey North’s books to be satisfying reads and her latest is a perfectly pleasant, if somewhat innocuous one.
The author returns to the small town of Doolittle, Arkansas (yes, it’s a series, but not an overwhelmingly stifling one, if you know what I mean) to tell the story of a former high school geek and now svelte and sophisticated world famous author and of the handsome stud who done her wrong all those years ago. Only not really, as the reader soon discovers.
Harriet Smith, who happily shook the dust of Doolittle and settled in New York with her husband following high school, returns reluctantly to the small town for Christmas with her 15-year old son. Widowed five years earlier, Harriet has a problematic relationship with her parents and isn’t happy about the return, made only because her mother in law is ill.
Jake Porter is that handsome high school stud and – you guessed it – the father of Harriet’s son. Only he doesn’t know it because Harriet and her gay husband scuttled out of town when Harriet learned she was pregnant and Jake’s military father and hippie-dippie mother didn’t land for long in Doolittle – or anywhere for that matter. But Jake, believe it or not, has always harbored memories of the then overweight Harriet and their night together.
Now a mega-successful record producer, Jake also returns to Doolittle for Christmas because his dad plans to marry one of the town’s innkeepers. And if all of this is sounding a bit complicated, it’s not – this is just one of those books with a thousand plot threads that are pretty much impossible to summarize in a short plot synopsis.
Harriet and Jake meet. Harriet, of course, recognizes Jake immediately, but he – and just as expectedly – doesn’t recognize her because the glamorous artist doesn’t bear much resemblance to the overweight geek of yore.
On the whole, this is a nicely done, character-driven story featuring pleasant and likable people. And if it’s nothing to write home about, there also isn’t really anything here to shout about from the rooftops either. I liked Harriet, but I can’t think of a single artist – as in painting – who has the kind of fame the author ascribes to Harriet. Artists just aren’t big stars on TMZ. As for Jake, his tangled feelings about his father play believably here and his reaction to the big reveal is realistic and not overly romance novel-y.
Is Not the Marrying Kind for you? If you want to escape into a small town world during the holiday season with a few pleasant characters, this one just might be the ticket. As for me, while I would hardly term the book memorable, I enjoyed the hours I spent reading it.