There is a growing trend of authors opening up their worlds for other authors to play in. I have to admit that it makes me nervous, because you can only hope that someone else will be able to respect and add to a universe you love without mucking it up. I console myself with the thought that if I don’t like a particular book, I don’t have to consider it canon.
It was in this mindset that I somewhat delayed starting to read LB Dunbar’s Love in Due Time, the first book in the Green Valley Library series. I also have several LB Dunbar books in my TBR that I haven’t got to yet, so I had no idea what I thought of her as author. But I adore Penny Reid’s work, so I told myself that she wouldn’t let something horrible through and I started in.
I’m glad I did! This is a second chance romance, which can be hit or miss for me. I did find Naomi’s response to her first meeting with Nathan to be pretty exaggerated. But for me to wish that characters had and used access to counselling is not rare. I often think it about people in real life too. Once I came to terms with that, I enjoyed the rest of the book. There are lots of entertaining moments, chances to see some growth on the part of Naomi and Nathan, and lots of time in the library, which any reader should love.
I was able to hunt down the full series of Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City and I tore through them. I’ve yet to be disappointed by any of her books. Obviously, some of the couples appealed to me more than others, but overall, they are robust characters with strengths, weaknesses, foibles, and traumas. Watching them work through their issues to reach their happily ever afters is enthralling.
I love how Ms. Reid includes characters who are “outside the norm” – and does it with a deft touch and attention to detail. Some of her characters are neurodivergent, some are in the genius or prodigy pool, but she never presents them as the cardboard cutout stereotype or uses them purely as a plot point. I also like that for the most part, the characters don’t do stupid or out of character things just to create drama for the plot. Which isn’t to say that they don’t do stupid things or things triggered by their personal histories, because that’s what human do.
These books aren’t perfect, but they are highly enjoyable.
Truth or Beard, by Penny Reid, is a book that I picked up because of the title, to be honest. It’s been languishing on my ereader for ages and last night, unable to sleep, I decided it seemed like a good one to start. The first chapter or two didn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but I still couldn’t get back to sleep so I persevered. And I’m glad I did, because I didn’t get any more sleep, but I did end up getting sucked in and finishing the book.
If you like to read series in order, then don’t start here. It looks like you would need to read at least Beauty and the Mustache, if not the whole Knitting in the City Series, to be completely “in the know”. However, I found that although it was evident that there were earlier events being referenced, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything that would really contribute to this story.
I laughed a lot through this reading – or at least chuckled under my breath, trying not to wake up my partner. Despite all the self-styled hill-billies running around, the humour was a bit dark and a little intellectual at times, just my favourite. There was just enough drama to keep the plot moving and I could have applauded when Jess chose to act like a grown-up and sidestep the opportunity to have drama for drama’s sake.
This will definitely be a book that I re-read, if nothing else but to experience it in a more lucid state of mind, but I don’t think that will change my mind about enjoying it. I’ve giving it four stars on Goodreads, but I feel like I might upgrade that to five later.