A Wedding in Apple Grove

C. H. Admirand
October 2012, Contemporary Romance
Sourcebooks Casablanca, $6.99, 352 pages, Amazon ASIN 1402268998
Part of a series

Grade: C-
Sensuality: Warm

A Wedding in Apple Grove feels uneven. The first portion reads like a 1950s small-town romance filled with town gossips and meddlers. I enjoyed it more about halfway through, but there was too much push-and-pull in the hero and heroine’s relationship. While not completely miserable, it’s not a book I can recommend.

I don’t mind a large number of characters in a romance, but I was completely overwhelmed by the number of characters thrown into the opening wedding scene, all of whom interact with our heroine Meg Mulcahy. Meg has mixed feelings about the wedding, happy for her friends but sad because she expected to be married by now to her high school sweetheart Jimmy. Problem is, Jimmy doesn’t want to spend his life in Apple Grove. He’s happy in Cincinnati playing for the Bengals and periodically coming back to town to see his family and date Meg. Meg loves Apple Grove, thinks it’s the only place in the world anyone could possibly want to live, and hopes that someday Jimmy will recognize this.

When Meg takes a break from the wedding reception she lands smack in the Dan Eagen’s arms. Dan’s just arrived in town to be the high school physical education teacher and soccer coach. Dan’s instantly attracted to Meg, but thinks she’s one of his students. Meg quickly sets him straight with a passionate kiss.

For the rest of the book we see Dan adjust to the town, fend off the advances of some of the unattached women, and try and figure out if he’s ready for a real relationship with Meg. Meg tries to figure out how to convince Dan that they’re made for each other, while still wondering about Jimmy. Oh, and did I mention they have sex very early on, and that it felt completely out of place? On the one hand, I appreciate the focus on the aftermath of what happens when a couple has sex too early in a relationship, and then wants to take a step back, but the “too early” part just doesn’t fit with the general sweet setting that’s built up in the opening pages.

The town – and Meg – feels completely saccharine and outdated. Early on when Meg swears (using a very mild word) she’s chastised for several paragraphs by a townsperson. This just feels old-fashioned and dated, more like the 1950s than the present. In fact, if not for Megan using her cell a few times and actually texting once or twice, and a few references to videos going viral and Internet dating sites, it could have been a 1950s romance.

It’s a bit of a quandary. I like that Megan has an unusual job running the family handyman business with her two sisters. On the other hand, the town is overwhelmingly old fashioned, and the level at which everyone knows everyone else’s business is annoying.

If not for excess baggage from a previous relationship, Dan would be almost too good to be true. He cooks, he coaches the soccer team, and he’s hot and fantastic in bed. But his baggage at times feels a bit silly, and I tired of his indecision.

I like the friendship Meg has with her friend Honey B, their evenings at each other’s homes eating chocolate, drinking wine, and watching chick flicks. I’m less enamored with the secondary romance between Honey B and the sheriff. His reluctance to date Honey for years was never explained to my satisfaction. I found myself hoping she’d get involved with one of the men thrown in toward the end as potential dates.

I suspect Meg’s two younger sisters, as well as some of the men Honey B dates, will appear in future Apple Grove romances. I’ll have to give them a pass. One trip to Apple Grove is more than enough for me.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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