Friday, April 13, 2018

Despite Appealing Vibe, LDS Rom-Com Fizzles

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Svetlana "Lana" Huish can't wait to spend the summer on Nantucket Island painting under the indulgent eyes of two of the most influential art patrons in the world.  Being selected to participate in their exclusive mentoring program is a great honor and an unparalleled opportunity to make a name for herself as an artist.  More than one successful career has been launched because of the program—the 22-year-old Yale grad wants hers to be one of them.  

Upon arrival in Nantucket, Lana's shocked to discover she won't be studying on the East Coast at all.  Instead, she finds herself in the tiny backwoods town of Bluegill, Idaho, where she'll spend six weeks being tutored by an elderly cowboy who specializes in Western art.  Although Lana is immediately attracted to Walt, LeVan Hitchpost's handsome grandson, she's a little worried about the artist himself.  It's clear LeVan is in the early stages of Alzheimer's.  If her mentor can barely remember his own name, how is he supposed to teach her all he knows about art?  
Despite her initial misgivings, Lana soon becomes charmed by LeVan, a mischievous old man whose mind is a lot sharper than he lets on.  She's also completely smitten with Walt.  Although the two appear to have little in common, Lana's drawn to the compassionate, hard-working farmer.  He might not return her feelings, but she can't seem to control hers.  As Lana tries to attract Walt's attention and works feverishly to help an ailing LeVan finish the masterpiece he's frantically trying to complete before Alzheimer's steals the rest of his mind, tension boils over in out-of-the-way Bluegill, Idaho.  The tranquil summer Lana had envisioned has suddenly become anything but ...

Even though its premise is more than a little far-fetched, Brush With Love by Lisa McKendrick is a fun, captivating New Adult romance.  Not only did I enjoy its rustic setting, but I liked the novel's upbeat voice and style.  Yes, the story feels more YA than NA, but its bubbly, buoyant rom-com vibe definitely appeals.  The characters are similarly likable, although LeVan's duplicitous actions seem cruel and inconsistent with his general nature.  Plot is not this novel's strength as the story line meanders here, there, and everywhere, trying to cover too much territory, and getting more improbable as it chugs along.  Chapter 23, in particular, threw me completely.  It's so abrupt and unemotional and cheesy that I read it over a few times thinking it had to be a dream sequence!  It isn't.  Honestly, I couldn't feel any chemistry between Lana and Walt, so their romance seems insta-lovey and melodramatic.  To top it all off, my copy of Brush With Love (which might possibly be an advanced reader version?) is chock-full of typos and other copy editing errors.  In the end, then, I came away from this novel disappointed.  The book has tons of potential; it just feels to me like this a draft of a novel, not the polished, complete story it should be.

(Readalikes:  The style reminds me of LDS rom-com novels by Melanie Jacobson, Jenny Proctor, and Julie Wright)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for (non-graphic) references to sex and mild innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-copy of Brush With Love from the generous folks at Bonneville Books via those on The Whitney Awards Committee.  Thank you!

3 comments:

  1. Another romantic dud...I'm sorry.

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  2. I hate when a book feels unfinished and unedited. Sorry.

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  3. Ugh sorry this was a disappointment. I hate when you can't feel the chemistry between love interests.

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