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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Book Review: Smitten, by Coble, Billerbeck, Hunt, and Hunter


One nice thing about going to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference is that they give you all these free books. Being a book-aholic, I do appreciate free "fixes." Otherwise, the cost for my addiction could go through the roof right alongside my Hubby, who does object to me spending thousands per year providing myself with books to read!

One of the conference freebies in September was Smitten, a collection of novellas written by four authors. The general topic was the town of Smitten, Vermont, which just lost it's principal employer, a lumber mill. The four books involve four women, friends who decide to work together to reinvent the town as a honeymoon resort town.

The first novella, Natalie: Birthday Wishes, by Colleen Coble, sets the ball rolling just before Easter. The women in town love the idea. The testosterone-loaded lumbermen don't. Of course, Natalie begins the work to convince them, starting with Carson Smitten whose multi-great grandfather started the town.. Coffeeshop owner Natalie and hardware store owner Carson are both among the town's selectpersons. The two don't get along. Natalie's sister Lisa said Carson was the father of her daughter, Mia. Carson resents that Natalie believed her sister, a girl known for her irresponsibility and lies. How in the world can they ever work together to revive a dying town when they can't even speak without the sparks flying?

The second book, Julia: Small Town, Big Dreams, by Kristin Billerbeck is about a Smitten resident who returned from Manhattan to help her aging parents when her mother broke her leg. Julia tries to entice her former employer, spa guru Devlin, into building a spa in Smitten. Julia believes she has the perfect place for the spa, but Devlin likes a different spot--in the second half of a former greasy spoon owned by Zak. Tall, dark, handsome Zak. Another romance and a spa off and running--but running which direction? Toward Devlin or Zak?

The third book is Shelby: You've Got a Friend, by Diann Hunt. Shelby and her shih-poo Penelope come home to find the local fire engine parked in the driveway. She'd left a hot glue gun on the dining room table. Other than the table and the dining room most damage was due to smoke, but it would take months to fix with all the other construction pulling available labor away. She used the Victorian house to teach her classes--what could she do? Fortunately, her safety-conscious friend Nick, after chewing her out, offers part of his Christmas shop to her and helps with repairs to her house. Good old friend Nick, more like a brother than anything closer. Um, sure.

The fourth book within a book is Reese: All Along, by Denise Hunter. One of the main things setting Smitten back on its feet by making it a honeymoon town is that a man who grew up in Smitten has become a popular country western singer. He agrees to get married and honeymoon in Smitten--and he will write a song to go with it. A few years ago, it had been Reese who ranked first in line for Sawyer Smitten's affections, but now he would marry another woman. Reese felt sort of, well, rejected. But heartbroken? Maybe not. And then comes the day when Sawyer comes back to Smitten, alone. Will he try to revive their romance? If he does that, what will it do to the plans for the town? Rival Griffin Parker is uncertain whether he should take the background and gracefully allow Sawyer first place in Reese's life. But wait a minute--should Reese allow Griffin to continue to think she held a flame for Sawyer? Oh, what to do, what to do.

Smitten is a lighthearted series, one with four happily ever afters. A perfect read for those cold snowy days when all you want to do is park in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book.