The strange thing about The Wishing Tree is if I hadn't come across it for work recently, I probably wouldn't have picked it up for myself to read. I...moreThe strange thing about The Wishing Tree is if I hadn't come across it for work recently, I probably wouldn't have picked it up for myself to read. I LOVE movie westerns (I'm a big fan of the tv show Rifleman, the movies Tombstone, Sharon Stone's version of The Quick and the Dead and the third Back to the Future movie edges out the other three just by a hair ;-)) but don't read much western lit because I always think it'd be a bit dry.
The Wishing Tree started out a bit slow because I had no idea what it was about. I don't tend to check out the blurbs of books that I work on. Mainly because I miss that childlike wonderment and the element of surprise in picking up a good read. It didn't take long for me to dive whole hog into this story!
The story opens with Jake Tanner coming to collect a debt at the insistence of his brother A.J. Jake and his family are pretty well off due to the extensive ranch and cattle herding business they run. They entered an arrangement with the patriarch of the Marshall home. Unfortunately, the note he comes to collect can't be paid due to the Marshall not having much money. The solution? Their oldest daughter Grace's hand is given in marriage to clear the milk cow debt.
From the beginning, everything goes wrong. Jake isn't attracted to Grace, her family could care less is if she leaves and the townspeople come to gawk at the wedding where Grace has to settle with a dingy yellow dress. Even worst, when her father mistreats her dog, Jake opens his mouth and puts his foot in it, breaking their well kept charade of a love story in front of the entire town. Grace can't wait to leave.
When she arrives at the Tanner home, everything is in disarray. A.J., Jake's brother, lives in a shadow after his wife's death and shuts himself out from the world. Both his and Jake's son, Jeremy' are at each other's throats, subject to bad food thanks to A.J.'s cooking. Grace eases her way in to calm things down not only with Jake's family but also to get herself mentally prepared to deal with Jake's hot and cold temper as he tries to keep her at arm's length.
There are a lot of things going on in this story that run alongside the main love story. A.J.'s recovery, life on the farm, the children's relationship with their parents, and an unexpected visitor who shows up after believing to be dead for years.
I LOVED this story. I've been looking for a well written story with a rich setting and this quenched my thirst. Ms. Snodgrass has a way of writing that I love so much where she lets the characters unfold in the story by showing you how they change, act and react to their environment. There were times when I cheered the characters and other times where I wanted to smack them and I loved it because they felt well rounded like real people. They weren't cookie cutter and although I feared Grace becoming a pushover or too headstrong, she balanced both aspects just right. There's a part in the story where she confronts the villain in a way that had me out of my seat and cheering for her like I was at a hockey tournament. It was awesome. The tension of that scene leveled out with a heartbreaking revelation moments later made this an intense and interesting read. Later on in the book, there are some moments of suspense that was a much welcome surprise.
Ms. Snodgrass also laid the groundwork out for the next in the series centered around Grace's younger sister Mary-Bell (now called Belle) and the handsome, mysterious preacher with a past, Paul Harrington. I can't wait to get my hands on that story. :-) (less)
What an excellent addition to historical romance titles. Lately I've been on the hunt for more historicals that take place from the 20s-40s. The style...moreWhat an excellent addition to historical romance titles. Lately I've been on the hunt for more historicals that take place from the 20s-40s. The style, the music, the snazzy close, snappy dialogue and volatile society offers so much for so many stories to be told. As we are going through a similar situation today with the depression, it's an interesting reflection upon the times to look back during the time of prohibition.
Jazz Baby doesn't disappoint. It's a romance that focuses around the main couple but at the same time, it's an excellent crime drama & family story with speakeasies, gangsters, sex (which is pretty detailed), violence and a lot of booze. Kate isn't the typical romance heroine as she is strong willed, a little loose although whip smart. Micah Trent oozed with the sexy and confident charm of Humphrey Bogart in his early work. Both had some interesting family dynamics and background which helped shaped their characters we experience in the story. Kate's brother Patrick is an integral part of the story, a former aspiring writer who fell off the path after their father's abuse which lead to his constantly drunken state. He's a side character but his character arc was fascinating to view. I also loved Susie and Jake's witty and biting repartee. They remind me of the youthful kind of love interest not unlike the boy teasing the girl he likes. They definitely have potential for their own story to develop and I hope Ms. Brown writes a followup story so we can see where everyone is after the main conflict in the story.
The setting was so spot on as Ms. Brown really brings the world to life through the dialogue (I loved the lingo here) and society at the time. At times it felt like a vacation when I was reading the book. I tried to stretch it out as much as possible reading it because I didn't want to end. I'm definitely adding this to my new favorites of 2010 and another 'wow' book that I'll happily add to my keeper shelf.