Southern small town girl returns home after a broken romance in her second home location in the North. Okay, we can understand that. Beth McKenzie returns to Littleboro after the grandmother who’d raised her – Mama Alice – fell down the basement stairs and never recovered. Beth decided to make the family home into a B & B – The Dixie Dew – and after serious renovations (thanks to her new-found, romantic, contractor-friend Scott) she opens for business. Her devoted second in command is Ida Plum Duckett, and seemingly no conversation between them is complete without a mention of Mama Alice.
In the first book of this series, her first guest dies suddenly. Wedding Bell Blues is the second in the series, and we’re being set up for it to happen again.
The Littleboro Green Bean Festival is about to begin, but green beans are not at all appealing to Beth or her best friend Malinda, who promptly becomes ill after tasting a smoothie made from the green veggie. One of the imported food judges has the same problem, but having tasted more varieties becomes more ill.
In the meantime, the elderly woman who lives next door (Verna) fell on her front sidewalk while walking her pet rabbit (Robert Redford by name) and becoming tangled in his leash. Verna goes to the hospital: RR Bunny goes AWOL.
There is also Reba, the town flake (for lack of a better word) who thought she was getting married but no groom ever appears. It appears that Reba lives in a tree and helps herself to anyone’s home if the door will open for her. Really?
The first time something or someone is presented as eccentric might be funny. Twenty mentions later might be overdoing it a tad. It begins to seem more mean than anything. The author tends to continually mention sad or unhappy or non-legal events that happened years and years ago. Beth tries to excuse her hometown by saying ‘This is Littleboro’ and repeating it ad nauseam throughout as though we might forget it while turning the page!
Southern clichés might be funny to Southerners, but like it or not there are Northerners who read and who might not ‘get it’ or ‘appreciate it’ quite so much. and thus quickly lose interest. Or if not that, then the interminable and very slow pacing of the book might do it, instead.
At this point, (page 182 of 326) I lost interest, because of all the many irritable little things that jerk the reader out of the story. When it becomes a struggle to turn the page, the biggest temptation is just to close the book and end the discomfort. Fortunately, the author writes short chapters. I kept telling myself ‘just five more pages then you can go do something else.’
If I’d given up, I’d have missed the 200 year-old Courthouse burning down. Well, the outside being brick didn’t burn but all the innards did. No one knows why or how.
I did finish it, but I’m not sure I’d willingly venture there again.
First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Minotaur Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.