Wedding Cakes and Big Mistakes
When small town romance is done right, it is a tale of two people finding love who just happen to live in a really neat little community. When it is done wrong, it often winds up being a morality tale on the evils of the big city and how it is better to divorce than go there. Unfortunately, this tale is the latter.
Carolanne Baxter’s parents were so in love that when her mom died her dad became the town drunk. In a small town like Adams Grove it is impossible to keep secrets and that meant everyone knew Carolanne’s humiliation. She couldn’t wait to graduate, go to college and head to a New York City law firm. But with her best friend Jill getting married and other big changes happening in town, Carolanne returns to set up practice with old friend Connor Buckham. Being back in Adams Grove will give her the chance to make amends with her dad and finally come to terms with her past.
Most things seem to be going along smoothly. She is settling into the joys of small town life, like relaxed business hours which allow her to attend estate sales and basically work on her own schedule. But when Connor gives her a kiss on an afternoon they are playing hooky, Carolanne’s carefully laid plans for her future begin to crumble. She knows she never wants to fall in love or get married. Her dad has proven that with her bloodline that path just leads to insanity. But Jill’s big wedding and Connor’s sudden romancing have Carolanne walking on shaky ground. Suddenly she has to wonder if risks are worth taking. But just as she is gathering up her courage to take a chance a body is discovered during the reception and Carolanne has a whole new set of woes to deal with.
This is one of those small town tales where everybody knows everybody and the town itself is just too twee for words. Throw in the old lady matchmaker who is never wrong and leaves video instructions for potential couples so she can be heard even from the grave, and you go beyond twee to quirky. Add law enforcement that has no respect for the law and lawyers with the same attitude and you wind up in – well I could say zany but really it just is unbelievable yet strangely predictable. When you enter romance land apparently you leave behind all semblance of reality. For me that felt predictable since this is the second small town romance in a row that I have read with a lawyer and cops who are all good buddies and throw due process to the wind. It is the umpteenth small town romance I have read where mysteries are solved by the citizenry pulling together and trampling the justice system in the process.
The unrealistic town might have worked if the author had given us a real romance but she doesn’t. Carolanne is convinced she can’t love because love drove her dad to drink. She spends the entire book blowing hot and cold. She likes Connor after a kiss, hates him when she sees him talking to another woman, loves him after a quick explanation, they get in a fight over her dad, then another fight over he dad, and so on. The HEA comes so far out of nowhere that it would have been a shock in anything but a romance. Beyond knowing she is a flip-flopper on the love issue and organized in the rest of her life we don’t really get to know Carolanne.
Connor is just a guy who apparently loved his mom a lot. And he loves his town even more – when his first wife wanted to leave he divorced her. There was no way he was moving. This was actually seen as a selling point when the town was trying to put Carolanne together with him. I mean, why not? Who wouldn’t want a man who put his marriage somewhere behind home town living in his priorities?
There is really nothing more to say about this book. It’s short but unless you absolutely, totally love quirky small town romances you can’t call it sweet. The only thing I can recommend regarding this story is giving it a pass.