This book is not my usual romance subgenre and I only picked it up because I wanted something on in the background while I was working. I was scrolling through Kindle Unlimited for books with Audible narration and got so frustrated with the mobile interface that I picked this book because of its bright purple cover and because I’ve always been intrigued by publishing’s infatuation with “Inn” books.
Jolene’s fondest memories are the summers she spent with her aunt and uncle at the Magnolia Inn where she could escape her alcoholic mother. Jolene has zero-tolerance for alcoholics so when Tucker —a broken man has been driven to the bottle after losing his wife in a car accident— becomes her co-owner in the Magnolia Inn, Jolene knows their relationship will be strictly business. But some home and life renovations, along with three feisty southern seniors, are about to change everything.
Even though the Magnolia Inn and Tucker dealing with the loss of his wife is a major part of this book, I feel like Brown really just wanted to write about Jolene’s aunt’s best friends; Flossy, Dottie and Lucy who take Joelene into their close-knit friend group. These women are not limited to just being a cheering section for the hero and heroine. Readers are taken into the interior lives and rituals that have bonded this group of friends for decades. Even though these women are in their 70s they are still grappling with dating, religion, and what they want for the future.
Let’s talk about the hero Tucker who is literary hearing the voice of his dead wife in his head through most of the book which was…kind of concerning? I mean I know it’s meant to represent his inability to let go but it seemed like his dead wife’s ghost was a little too actively involved in the story.
I have always found that the audio quality on KU sometimes lacking. When I put it on double speed it gets kind of tinny? Either way, audiobook narrator Brittany Pressley does an admirable job and has a believable collection of southern accents.
I said earlier I’m sort of fascinated by inns in romance novels. I’ve read a handful and I’d like to posit that inns in romances accomplish two things. Firstly, they act as a surrogate home for people to heal, either by owning the actual inn or by the guest they meet there.
The second thing I think inn romances do is they give “value” to domestic activities in a way society doesn’t. To be a good innkeeper the characters have to excel at cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry for their guest.
At least that’s my two cents on it.
I’m sure I could pick up more themes if I read more but I’d have to be in a mood for it.
Overall, the book was kind of a slow read for me. I like a little bit more action, external conflict, or hijinks in my contemporary. This is great if you’re looking for a book about overcoming grief and finding love on the other side.