Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Secretly Smitten.


There’s a secret in Grandma Rose’s attic—a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?

The mystery intrigues Rose’s three granddaughters—Tess, Clare, and Zoe—and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women? {Description provided by publisher}

Secretly Smitten is a collection of four novellas written by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter. I honestly didn't know until I had it in my hands that it was a sequel. The first book is called Smitten and revolves around a small Vermont town being revived into a romantic destination. At first it bugged me that I hadn't read the previous book first, but soon I realized that it wasn't necessary...this book stands on its own and I didn't feel like I was missing any major information.

Each of the four stories revolves around a certain female member of the Thomas family: Anna (the mother) and Tess, Zoe, and Clare (her daughters). My favorite was the final one: Love Blooms, which follows the middle daughter Clare. I could really relate to her: being set in her routines and not knowing how to handle change. That's me in a nutshell. :) And her romantic interest was definitely crush-worthy in a quiet, mysterious sort of way. This one, being the last story, was also the one that wrapped up everything that had been happening in the book...and it might have made me teary. :)

My second favorite was the first story, Love Between the Lines. Anna's story, Knit One, Love Two, was interesting, too, but mostly because I'm a knitter and spin yarn and those things have a big part of that story! Anna runs a knitting shop and there's lots of knitting talk about merino yarns and patterns and raising sheep for wool. So I quite enjoyed that novella for that reason, though not necessarily for the plot. Make Me a Match was my least favorite of the four, though it did cause me to have the Fiddler on the Roof song stuck in my head all day.

This was the first time I had ever read a book that was set up in this way. I was a little unsure about it, to be honest. Four different authors, and four short stories? It's true that it is different than reading a typical novel. At first I felt like I wasn't having enough time to get to know the characters. But they pop up in each others' stories, so I had moved passed that after the first half or so. The authors did a really amazing job of making their separate stories feel like they fit perfectly together. Sure, you can tell that they're written by different people because of the writing styles and such, but they also feel seamless.

Secretly Smitten is all about the romance. Honestly, other than the various romantic entanglements, there's not much plot at all. There's the bit of intrigue about what happened to Grandma Rose's first love and a side plot about the town trying to get the railroad to come through again to bring more business. But if you're not looking for anything love-related, don't choose this book. :) I love a good, sweet romance as much (or more) than the next person, but this almost felt a bit too lovey-dovey even for my taste. {Though lately much of what I've been reading is middle-grade stuff, so maybe I've just been away from love stories for too long. :) }

Despite the heavy dose of romance and the slight lack of plot, I really did enjoy Secretly Smitten. I had not read anything previously by any of the four authors (except for one of Colleen Coble's historical novels), but now I'm interested in reading more of their works. If you're looking for a good, quick, romantic read this winter or for Valentine's Day, consider checking out Secretly Smitten.

Until next time,

*Note: I received this book for free from Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.*

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