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Lacking emotional depth
on 7 July 2013
Nancy Naigle's book is the second in a series set in the small American town of Adams Grove. This is a sub-genre already well explored by Susan Mallery, Sherryl Woods, Debbie Macomber, Nora Roberts and Robyn Carr to name but a few. The messages are consistent ; small town life is best, neighbours support one another, families are important, everyone has baggage and love conquers all. This book fits well into the tradition but I felt that it lacked some emotional depth and consistency.
The story revolves around the marriage of the main couple from the first book but concentrates on Carolanne and Connor who are partners in the town's law practice. Carolanne is returning to the town after many years away and has unresolved issues with her father. The two of them have also been predicted to marry in a video will by an older lady who died recently. Connor would like them to be a couple but Carolanne is wary of combining her private life with her profession in case it goes wrong. About half way through the book a young woman's body is found and the two of them become involved in the investigation. Things become especially difficult when Carolanne's father Ben is suspected of the murder.
I never really felt that I understood Carolanne. Her issues with her father were not explained in detail and, in practice, she found it easy to overcome them as though they had never really mattered or been very strong in the first place. The same thing happens with her feelings for Connor, you felt that she could never have had any real objections or she wouldn't have given in so easily. At the end of the book Ben and Connor have a conversation about Carolanne's bad temper (caused, apparently by her having red hair) and how endearing it is, but until that chapter she hadn't flown off the handle at all. The emotions of the characters seemed to fit the story rather than the story being caused by their emotions and character. It made the main characters seem a bit shallow.
The whole murder plot seemed bolted onto the romance. The murder is not discovered until half way through the book and the victim is not a major character. In fact, her backstory is mostly ignored and little time is given by any of the characters to regret at her death. I felt that this part of the story was contrived to give a boost to a rather flat romance. I really didn't care about the crime at all and certainly never felt any dramatic tension.
This book wasn't a very satisfactory romance and it was a less satisfactory suspense story. I found it difficult to engage and thought the characters were rather shallow. This is one small town I shall not be revisiting.