I stumbled on this title in a somewhat obscure message board where the author was asking about reviews. I VERY RARELY find the titles of interest when I see such things and freely ignore them, however this one did somehow pique my interest. I did NOT avail myself of the author's offer for a free copy as I would rather just read it like any other story I would pick. Nope, cold hard cash was paid for this one (well, the electronic bits and bytes that stand for cash were transferred to Amazon), albeit a small amount. (Don't get me wrong, books do need publicity and the author was quite polite and within the bounds of reason with her posting--and it's not like the big publishers don't send out freebies to reviewers. It's just I'm nothing close to a professional reviewer and I just happen to prefer to buy what interests me and only review something if I feel like it).
The main character is Gretchen Gallen. She had been an up-and-coming worker in a big city financial firm, but left after unraveling subsequent to a traumatic event. She landed in a small city living in a cabin and working to help her older landlord with the lady's daily activities while simultaneously trying to put her own life back together. Without belaboring the plot too much (see the blurb) Gretchen finds herself helping to take care of things once her landlord passes away, and finds herself in the position to start a specialized clean-up business taking care of places where people have died.
On the positive side the main character has some depth to her and we get to see how the events of her life have led her to this small town. The story is full of humorous and entertaining characters and has plenty of small town and southern interests. To say I found myself laughing quite a bit as I read is an understatement--lots of fun content. This is not however all peaches and lightness and silly humor. There are plenty of darker and recovery themes as well which made this not exactly the light/fun read I was expecting but really made for a much better read.
I was quite engrossed in this one!
On the negative, well there could have been a little better/tighter editing. I don't blame the indie nature of this, I have seen much worse coming out of 'The Big Six' publishers of late, however, I do wish it had been a little better. Formatting was fine (Kindle edition) and no issues there. A few punctuation issues not that I'm some great expert...but a " instead of a parentheses is noticeable, as was a name shift at one point--I'm guessing Jared was named Jake (or was it Jack) during an earlier draft. I also had a little trouble following the timeline. The first chapter started off showing Gretchen at work, then she went back in time to show past events, and at some point I can see how it all caught up. Perhaps it was me but I had a little hard time putting that first chapter back in the timeline and in finding out how Gretchen's interactions with Jared developed.
There were some predictable developments and elements, and the final big reveal happened with the main character lying in a hospital bed. Normally I dislike that, but in this case it fit. Not high literature, but much better than most 'light' reads. A few details were left hanging--better that way because if everything had been tied up, well, that would have been just a little too neat. Leaves room to carry on in the next book(s). I hope.
To sum up, the negatives were just a little too distracting to give this a full five stars, but if Amazon would allow the 10 star system this would have been about an 8.9. What that means in a more practical sense--I really enjoyed the story. I want to know what happens next, and I want to know more about the secondary characters (please, please don't make this into one of those never-ending 'which guy does she pick' things a la Stephanie Plum or Hannah Swenson). More important than the 'was this worth the money?' question (a big yes!) is that this was a definite 'worth the time'. My time is much more valuable than money and I was pleased to spend it reading this book.
I fully intend to stalk the author's website to make sure I get to read the next one! Highly Recommended!