by LuAnn McLane, contemporary (2008)
Signet, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-451-22286-2
It is very hard to write a halfway interesting review about LuAnn McLane's Trick My Truck But Don't Mess With My Heart because it doesn't have monsters or explosions or secret agents or even erotic sex scenes that can be used as a headline. All this one has is a cozy courtship taking place at a leisurely pace, nicely sprinkled with anecdotal small town scenes that are somewhat reminiscent of feel-good scenes found in Chicken Soup books.
Candie Montgomery takes a break from her life in Chicago to return to Pinewood, Kentucky, in order to help her twin sister Sarah get their ill father's used-car business back in shape. However, she finds herself back in town right in the middle of a minor crisis: Sarah had just broken up with her fiancé Nick and word got around that Nick dumped Sarah because Nick fancied Candie. This is just a minor drama, though, as it is just an excuse for Candie to accept the cute fellow Tommy Tucker's offer of being her pretend boyfriend to cool the rumors in return for Candie participating in his volleyball team. This is just a set-up of the story, really, as the bulk of the story deals with Candie and Tommy getting cozy even as Candie works with Sarah and the two sisters become closer than they have ever been.
There are some minor issues here where I am concerned - the pacing is iffy as sometimes a month has passed in between paragraphs and many of the conversations here feel scripted for a sitcom because I have a hard time imagining real people would use some of the lines these people use in this story.
Still, the story is really charming and sweet. Sarah and Candie have an adorable repartee that can feel pretty real at places while Candie and Tommy are so sweet together. Sarah, the prettier and pampered younger twin sister, is as far as one can get from a stereotype as she has both flaws and strengths here. I like the fact that the author can playfully and proudly celebrate some of the Southern homegrown elements that other people will sneer at without turning her characters into stereotypes. Candie and Sarah, especially, feel as real as can be for characters in a very idealized feel-good romantic comedy.
I know, this review isn't very interesting. But that doesn't mean that this story is boring. It's pleasant, sweet, and heartwarming at places in a low key manner, even getting under my skin without my realizing it. Trick My Truck But Don't Mess With My Heart may not seem sophisticated when one compares it to those vampires and werewolves running wild under the moon and chasing after their mates, but it offers ample no-nonsense sweet and cozy romance with plenty of heart.
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