Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Review: The Smitten Book Club by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt

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(This book provided to me by NetGalley and Thomas Nelson - Fiction for review purposes.)

Description from Goodreads
""Consider that your beau is like a coveted novel whose compelling first lines you've just begun to read." --A Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship"

At a rummage sale, Heather, a member of the Fireside Book Club, discovers a turn-of-the-century romantic advice book written by a once-famous Smitten, Vermont, resident. When she shares the precious volume with her friends in the club, they find clues about a hidden treasure rumored to be buried in their tiny town.

As Heather, Abby, Lia, and Molly take turns reading the book, each projects onto it her own literary tastes. Heather sees it as a mystery. Abby discovers delicious dashes of Jane Austen. Lia sees in it the idealism of a bygone day. And Molly just wishes they'd made the book into a movie!

One by one, each of the women finds romantic love--often in spite of the historic book's advice. And in searching for the legendary gold, the friends discover the best kind of treasure. The kind that brings hope and healing to each of their hearts.

My Review

I have this book on my Books I'm Excited For list for January 2014, and I actually did end up enjoying most of the book. It's not that I didn't enjoy the book overall, there were just a couple things here and there. 

This book is broken up into four parts with four separate subtitles, so this review will be broken up in the same fashion. All four parts of the book utilize a fictional story entitled "The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship", which guide the woman to romance, and to find a local buried treasure.

Love By The Book by Colleen Coble: This is Heather and Paul's story. Overall, I was disappointed. I understand Heather is a mess because her baby daddy left, she's a single mom, and Paul broke her heart in the past by leaving to "find himself", but I didn't care one bit. I struggled with this part of the story. 

Shelved Under Romance by Kristin Billerbeck: This is Abby and Wyatt's story. This was a cute, easy read, and went much faster than Love By The Book. I actually finished it really quickly! I still don't understand why her mom is so protective, but the hang-gliding date between Abby and Wyatt was cute, and I loved Billerbeck's description of it- it actually makes me want to give hang gliding a try! I think I might look up Billerbeck on Goodreads and see what other stories she has to offer!

A New Chapter by Diann Hunt: This is Lia and Joey's story.  I went into this book knowing this was a "Christian" based book, and the themes were very prevalent in this section. I don't find anything wrong with that, it's just something to note. Lia and Joey's story made my heart so happy! As I may have mentioned before, I love when a story incorporates a friendship as a romance, especially one that has been years in the making. This was my favorite of all of the stories. I loved Grace (though I guessed what would happen at the end, almost exactly, so it was predictable), and reading about Joey's journey to forgiveness and into Lia's heart just made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. I do love a good romance! 

Happily Ever After by Denise Hunter: This is Molly and Gage's story. I don't think it ruins anything to say I was nervous about this one because Molly loses her husband shortly before the book starts. But by the time we get to Molly's story, it's been a year. So that eased my nerves a bit. (Not that I judge a mourning period, and everyone has their own, but this is Christian novel, and I couldn't imagine they'd have Molly fall in love immediately after losing her husband.) I didn't really like the "conflict" in this one because it seemed so obvious and staged, but the romance was sweet. And I like that everything is resolved.

All four stories interweave, and all connect the mystery of The Gentlewoman's Guide, which makes the full story come together as cohesive, and not just pieces of one whole.  I found the Gentlewoman's Guide to be filled with really old school advice on how to act when courting a man, some of which I laughed out loud when reading. It was clearly meant to both tie into the story and provide a chuckle at the old rules of romance. There was also a "scavenger hunt" of sorts running through the book, and it does get resolved, which was also nice. All in all, this book pretty much tied up with a nice shiny bow.

I gave this book a 3 star review on Goodreads, but it's really more like 3 and a half. It was a cute, lighthearted, sweet read, with only one disappointing portion. I don't think I'll be re-reading this at any point in the near future, but it was a nice quick read to start off the New Year! (Fun Fact: This was the first book I read in 2014!)

You can purchase a copy of this book on paperback here, and for Kindle here.

FTC: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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