Friday, January 25, 2019

The Magnolia Inn by Carolyn Brown

New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown brings together two wounded hearts in a Texas romance of second chances and twice-in-a-lifetime true love.

Inheriting the Magnolia Inn, a Victorian home nestled in the East Texas pines, is a fantasy come true for Jolene Broussard. After living with the guilt of failing to rescue her self-destructive mother, Jolene knows her aunt and uncle’s B&B is the perfect jump start for a new life and a comforting place to call home. There’s just one hitch: stubborn and moody carpenter Tucker Malone. He’s got a half interest in the Magnolia Inn, and he’s planting his dusty cowboy boots squarely in the middle of her dream.

Ever since his wife’s death, Tucker’s own guilt and demons have left him as guarded as Jolene. The last thing he expects is for his new partner to stir something inside him he thought was gone forever. And as wary as Jolene is, she may have found a kindred spirit—someone she can help, and someone she can hold on to.

Restoring the Magnolia Inn is the first step toward restoring their hearts. Will they be able to let go of the past and trust each other to do it together?

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

With themes of loss and grief and a focus on strong relationships between quirky southern women, this story kept reminding me of Steel Magnolias. I enjoyed the intergenerational relationships and I liked Jolene for her determination as she builds a new life for herself.

I didn’t love this story as much as I expected to. In an age of a million property-porn Instagram accounts, restoration blogs, and Pinterest boards, this story feels more 1982 Laura Ashley than 2019 Emily Henderson. Too much of this story feels oddly dated and I struggled to believe in Jolene and Tucker as young Millennials.

There really isn’t much romance in this book. Tucker is still grieving at the start of this story and Jolene is constantly judging him and assuming the worst of him. She can’t see Tucker for most of the book because she just sees her mother in him. Jolene is unnecessarily cold and mean to Tucker – right until they get together. The story is stronger when it focuses on Jolene and Tucker dealing with their pasts. It is also strong when it focuses on Jolene’s relationships with her aunt’s group of friends. But this really doesn’t feel like a romance. There is also no heat in this book. It feels like a book that could be borrowed from a church library and I’m guessing that I’m 30 years younger than the author’s typical reader. I’m sure this book will appeal more to a conservative audience of older American women.

I am aware that my reaction to this book is partly a cultural thing. I’m a liberal atheist Brit. Jack Whitehall does a great standup routine where he examines the differences between American and British attitudes towards alcohol. I’m too British to even start to understand how the characters in this book are quickly judged and labeled either teetotal or alcoholic. Add in the slightly crazed religious stuff, the cute non-swearing, and the prudish giggles about a married couple sharing a bath and I feel like there’s a cultural chasm between the worlds Jolene and I inhabit. We might speak the same language, but I struggle to relate to much of anything else in her world.

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author and RITA® Finalist who has sold more than 3 million books. She presently writes both women’s fiction and cowboy romance. She has also written historical single title, historical series, contemporary single title, and contemporary series. She lives in southern Oklahoma with her husband, a former English teacher, who is not allowed to read her books until they are published. They have three children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. For a complete listing of her books (series in order) check out her website.

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Montlake –

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Magnolia Inn by Carolyn Brown to read and review.

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