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- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I am unexcusably late to the Elk Rapids party; I have had the collection on my kindle for much too long, always meaning to get around to it. I should say right off that I am very familiar with Ms. Dunbar's writing style - I discovered her, I believe before the Elkhart Rapids series was fully published, when I fell head over heels in love with her Legendary Rock Stars series - which is still one of my most highly recommended reads. You can find my reviews for all five of those awesome books on Amazon, GoodReads and my blogs; this is about Sound Advice.
I love the small town setting; it is certainly one that I am familiar with - though, like the heroine of this story, I am equally familiar with big cities. I finally found my happy medium six and a half years ago when my husband and I settled in a small suburb surrounded by big city. I believe my hesitation to read this series has been that it is set in Michigan, a state that holds very few good memories of my eight years living there, mostly in a small town, but down state and much less idyllic, at least for me. I have to admit that every mention of Michigan had me cringing for those reasons, but the story itself is undeniably enchanting. I read it in one sitting, while I probably should have been sleeping, but it was too good to let rest.
You'll be hard pressed to find any woman who doesn't swoon a bit over a dedicated single father, and I found it impossible to resist Jess, even in his early appearances when his actions toward Emily were less than charming. And his sweet, mute daughter is a total heartbreaker, throughout the story. She really steals the show, though there are many charming (and maybe not so charming) memorable characters on every page.
In the author's notes at the end, she mentions the inspiration for Nana is a combination of her husband's two grandmothers. Nana could have easily been a combination of my two grandmothers - both of whom wrote columns for small town newspapers (though, admittedly, neither as eloquent a column subject as manners - one the "gossip" column of who visited whom, and the other a "Digging Up the Past" column with exciting news such as Farmer Larson selling 2 cows in 1896.) One I also lost to Alzheimers last year, at the age of 97, after suffering two hip breaks in the preceding 5 years. So, all of the story lines hit very close to home for me, but I feel almost every one will find relatable bits and pieces in this beautiful story, which, while undoubtedly a romance, expands beyond those confines with the deep family ties explored in very different scenarios, a veritable travel guide of the northern part of the southern peninsula of Michigan, and the friends and neighbors who go out of their way when need arises.
If I wasn't so familiar with the author's brilliant Legendary Rock Stars series, which is a modernization of the King Arthur tales, I might not have picked up as quickly on the modernization of Beauty and the Beast in this one, though as the story unfolds, it is spelled out pretty clearly. It is a wonderful rendition of that tale as old as time as well.
For those friends and followers of mine who may not be quite as enthralled with rockstars as I personally am, this book will now be near, or at, the top of my recommendations list for them.