(Image from Deseret Book)
If you're a fan of Melanie Jacobson's LDS romances, particularly Twitterpated, then the name Sandy Burke will definitely ring a bell. No? In case you're coming up blank, I'll help you out—Sandy's the snarky, redheaded fashionista who rooms with Jessie Taylor, the workaholic heroine of Twitterpated. Yep, she's that Sandy, the girl who upstaged Jessie pretty much from Page 1. If you—like me—wondered about the story behind Jessie's colorful roomie, then you'll be thrilled to know that all your questions are answered in Jacobson's new novel, Smart Move.
After her adventures in Twitterpated, 27-year-old Sandy Burke is now living in the Washington, D.C. area where she runs a branch of New Horizons, an organization that provides job training for underprivileged women. Not only has she returned to the church, but she's feeling confident about the vibrant LDS singles scene in her new town. With her own place, a job that both challenges and satisfies her, and a fun set of girls to hang with, things are going better than Sandy ever could have expected.
Then, Sandy gets the shock of her life: Jake Manning. That Jake Manning, the gorgeous guy she connected so strongly with when she met him at a dance club in Seattle. The guy whose failure to call almost destroyed every ounce of Sandy's confidence. Not only has Jake, by some crazy-weird coincidence, moved into her ward on the other side of the country, but he's still trying to put the moves on Sandy. The nerve! Sandy's prepared to flirt with every guy in sight to get revenge on the man who caused her such emotional distress, but the thing is, the more time she spends with Jake, the more she's remembering why she was so attracted to him in the first place.
When Sandy discovers what Jake's really doing in D.C.—representing a home owner's group in its attempt to stop New Horizons from building an annex in their neighborhood—she knows she has to stop thinking of Jake as anything but her enemy. As Sandy braces herself to fight Jake on every front, a surprise visitor arrives to stir things up. Dealing with her flighty, granola-girl of a mother while trying to save her job and resist the man who's growing more disarming by the day may be more than even Sandy Burke can handle. It also might be the best thing that's ever happened to her.
Because I've read and reviewed all four of Melanie Jacobson's novels this year, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on her work. Which is why I can say with complete, unabashed confidence that Smart Move is the best thing she's written to date. Yes, the novel's predictable. Yes, it gets cheesy. And yes, once again, Jacobson's leading man lacks a discernible personality. BUT, this time around, Jacobson gives us a likable heroine who's complex, interesting and just a whole lot of fun (her mother's even more so). The sparring between Sandy and Jake keeps things interesting, while the plot of Smart Move moves at a pace that feels perfect. Overall, this is a light, funny ("scripture Twister"—I'm still laughing at that one!) romance with a contemporary feel that will appeal to both older teens and "new adults." Because it's not at all preachy, Smart Move would also be a good novel to hand to non-Mormon fans of sweet, clean romances. Even though I'm kind of a hater when it comes to LDS fiction, I can say this for sure: If Melanie Jacobson writes it, I'll read it.
(Readalikes: Reminds me of Jacobson's other novels—The List, Not My Type and, especially, Twitterpated)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for mild sexual innuendo
To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of Smart Move from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.
Thanks to the very generous Melanie Jacobson, you can win your very own copy of Smart Move. All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me about the smartest move (literal or figurative) you ever made. Promoting this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter or wherever else will, of course, get you more entries (one per method of spreading the word). I'll choose a winner (using Random.org) on November 6th. Good luck!