Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: Dating, Dining and Desperation

Melody Carlson is one the bigger names in the young adult Christian fiction genre. She's written numerous novels for teen girls. When I noticed this one on the recent acquisitions shelves at the front of the library, I was interested because it was clearly women's fiction and I wasn't aware she had written any novels for women (turns out, she's written quite a few women's novels and I really shouldn't be surprised since she practically has too many young adult novels to count).

I also shouldn't have been surprised that this turned out to be a piece of series fiction (another one of her specialties). However, I truly didn't grasp that this was book two in a series (although the stamp on the cover declaring it a Dear Daphne novel should have been a neon sign to me). Apparently the first one was called Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel. In the first book they introduce the basic plot line that Daphne is set to inherit her aunt's house, convertible, and newspaper column job as long as she fulfills an unusual requirement. She has to secure a husband before one year is up.

Where I picked up the story, with this second book, Daphne is pining for a soured relationship with her attorney. She was convinced he had feelings for her, but then he went on vacation with his ex-wife. Enter a new neighbor, a vivacious Southern-belle, and the determination to fulfill the requirement takes on further fuel. The book was a bit confusing to me because the first half spent its time devoted to developing the friendship between Daphne and Sabrina, and encountering numerous possible suitors (each one tossed aside). Suddenly in the second half, a whole new plot line is introduced with the arrival of another neighbor, this time a young girl who is in desperate need of some stability and friendship in her life. It was truly only when I finished that I realized that this was a series book. The ending leaves you hanging, wondering who Daphne will end up with to fulfill the requirements of the will (something the reader is sure will happen in the end).

Our library has the first book in the series, but I don't know if I'll pursue it. For one thing, I already know much of what it laid out. At the end of the book, the reader is informed that the third and fourth installments in the series will only be released as e-books. So, I'm just not sure I'm hooked enough to want to invest in the last two books or read them in an electronic format (I much prefer to hold the book in my hand). As far as Christian fiction goes, this is a typical fare - romantic story line, references to Christianity and the ways God would have us live, and a happy, peaceful ending (well, it is promised for book four, anyway). I suppose it may have suffered by comparison since I am in the middle of listening to Divergent, an absolutely riveting tale.

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