I'm very much a mood reader. This, as you may imagine, makes being a blogger pretty difficult. Sometimes I have no choice but to read a certain type of book at a certain time even if I'm not totally in the mood for it. (And let's not even get into having to read a new library book because the hold has come in and I have just seven days to finish it.) Now, I'm very aware of this quirk of mine and I've been blogging a long time so I know when my mood affects my feelings on a book. Why am I mentioning all this? Because I picked up The Magnolia Inn to read because I needed the kind of story it promised. Carolyn Brown's novel delivered on the feelings I needed but it didn't quite wow me with the execution.
Here's the synopsis:
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.I'm a big fan of romantic movies. I don't watch nearly enough of them these days because I just don't spend nearly as much time watching movies alone as I once did (I've also been binging the hell out of Outlander - the books and the TV show). I didn't love the way this novel was written but I could totally see this as a Hallmark-esque movie. I would love to watch it on the screen - likely much more than I did reading it. The setting is perfection and I'd love to see the Inn transform as Tucker and Jolene worked on it. There's just something about the way the story was told that would feel better as a script than a novel.
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?
I think one of my issues with this book was I couldn't quite feel a connection with Jolene and Tucker. It was like the reader was behind the walls each of them had built up around themselves and by the time they had torn them down and admitted their feelings to one another (it's a romance, this is not a spoiler. You know it's coming.), the book was over. Maybe part of this had to do with my own personal feelings and history. I don't know what Jolene and Tucker are feeling because I've never had to go through anything like they have. I'm not saying I need to have had the same experiences as the characters I'm reading have had but, if that's the case, I need the author to give me more. I don't know what it was that I was missing but there was something, at least for me.
One of the things I did really like about this book (and there were things I liked, I promise) was that it wasn't strictly a romance. This novel shows that family doesn't have to be blood and it can look any way you want it to, as long as you're with people who love you fiercely and without question. It's about those friendships that endure not just years but decades. It's about finally finding your place in the world, your roots, and somewhere to call home. That message is why I would say this book should be read.
While The Magnolia Inn didn't completely thrill me, I did quite enjoy my time reading Carolyn Brown's latest book. It was so very Southern - sweet and sassy - and had a really great feel to it. And that cover is just to die for, isn't it? I would definitely love to stay in this Inn!
*A copy of this novel was provided by the Canadian distributor, Thomas Allen & Son, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*