Desert Isle Keeper
Well, I have fallen in love with another man from Penny Reid’s Green Valley and I did not expect it to be Jackson James – small town deputy sheriff whose previous appearances in the Winston Brothers and Solving for Pie series did not leave me feeling all that bubbly. In fact, I thought of him as kinda annoying and entitled. I was wrong!
Five years ago, Jackson had a one-night-stand with movie star Raquel Ezra at a wedding in Green Valley. They agreed to have just one night together and never see each other again. (This one fabulous night is detailed in Just Folking Around – a free prequel to Totally Folked) Both Jackson and Raquel (Rae to her friends) have moved on, but they still think of each other often. Just when Jackson is thinking of getting serious with his delightful girlfriend Charlotte, Rae shows up in Green Valley again.
She’s flown to Green Valley to escape her life – her fans, the press, her agents, and all the people she supports who are supposed to support her back… but aren’t. She’s a mess; she’s not sure if she wants to keep making movies and not sure what else she can do. She shows up at her friend (and fellow movie star) Sienna’s house and Sienna welcomes her with open arms. Rae hopes that some down time in a small Tennessee town will help her figure things out. And she hopes to run into Jackson.
When Rae and Jackson see each other again sparks fly. But Jackson wants forever, which he hopes he can get with Charlotte, and he remembers Rae’s rule – one night only. He may be attracted to Rae but he wants more than he thinks she’s offering. Rae just wants Jackson – she’s attracted to him in every way. When the two of them kiss (don’t worry – it’s after Jackson is a free man again) and are caught on camera, Jackson and Rae have to do some quick thinking, with the help of Sienna, her husband Jethro, and her brother-in-law Cletus, to get themselves out of the snowballing scandal. And they have to decide what that kiss means for their future.
Penny Reid fans, you are in for another delightful treat of a couple. Rae may be a movie star but she is down-to-earth and wonderfully awkward; her inner musings had me snorting. She has been travelling fast on a ship she’s forgotten she’s the captain of, and she is searching for some control in her life. Jackson has been on a mission to change his life for the last few years. Formerly the town playboy, he’s been trying to clean up his image. But Jackson is lost too. He has a sweet, tender, vulnerable side that makes him so relatable and real:
Instinct kicked in, and I breathed out, separating myself from where I was, who I was with, and the cluttered chaos of my mind. Relax, I told myself. Slow it down. Go somewhere else.
I suspected any kid who has been bullied in school, any boy who was small and scrawny for his age, anyone who felt awkward and ugly growing up, learns how to do this without trying.
I told myself to slow it down. Slow my mind down and pretend I was an observer, a bystander not in the thick of the action. I didn’t have to feel scared or shitty about myself if I didn’t wish to. I could simply pretend.
Oh Jackson! Fans, you may think you know him but Ms. Reid shows us the real Jackson and he is terrific. All the pieces you thought you knew about him fall perfectly into place in a different puzzle.
Along with a first-rate romance, Totally Folked also gives us a creative, sweet story. Ms. Reid does the perfect job putting the reader right into Rae’s and Jackson’s minds and taking us along for the romantic ride. This story has less drama than some of the more recent Penny Reid books and I appreciated the gentler nature of this romance. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of action and loads of steam, but the story is focused more on Jackson and Rae and their development as individuals and as a couple than on an exciting side story.
There is also the usual fun cast of characters. Sienna and Jethro have substantial parts in the tale and Cletus is up to his usual hilarity. Totally Folked is the first book (except the free prequel) in the Good Folk: Modern Folktales series and it could be read as a stand-alone although I would suggest starting with the Winston Brothers series instead. Most of the characters in Totally Folked were introduced earlier in the Penny Reid universe and knowing the background to the characters and life in Green Valley will definitely enhance your reading experience.
But I applaud any way you want to read it. Totally Folked is a swoony, tender, hot romance that I highly recommend. I’m off to read it again!