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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Digital Review: Men Of Smithfield: Sam And Aaron

Disclaimer: I know LB Gregg.  I'm friends with LB Gregg.  In fact I fully expect to spend an exorbitant amount of time in the hotel bar with her at RWA San Antonio throwing back a few glasses of vino.  Also, this book is dedicated to me.  I'm not sure how I feel about having a book being dedicated to me when the secondary character of the town librarian is 1) old and 2) a battle ax but hey - at least she's awesome.  I want to be an awesome old battle ax librarian if I ever grow up.

You know what I'm a total sucker for?  Romances featuring nice people.  People who may have agendas, may have their own personal baggage, but at the end of the day are nice people.  That's what LB Gregg has given readers with her fictional New England town of Smithfield.  Everybody in this town is nice.  Really, really nice.  The heroes are nice, their families are nice - Gregg's world is like an m/m version of a Karen Templeton "straight" category romance.

Sam Meyers and his sister Wynne run Smithfield's Bed & Breakfast.  They inherited the place when their grandfather died.  Sam spend his childhood learning at Granddad's knee which means 1) he can fix darn near anything and 2) has never left town.  Ever.  The guy hasn't even been on an airplane.  Life is passing him by.  The few gay men that live in town are all blissfully paired up and since Sam doesn't leave town?  Yeah, he's single.  Shockers.  That is until he heads to the library late one evening to return some overdue books (Oh Sam, how could you?).  Trying to free his cell phone from the book drop (oops), he spies someone lurking around inside the building.  After hours.  A someone who in no way looks like Mrs. Strauss.  Turns out it's Aaron Saunders, visiting from California (as if breaking and entering didn't already make him a suspect - he's from CALIFORNIA!).  Sam doesn't care how sexy the guy is, he's a sneak and up to no good.  Of course only Sam thinks he's up to no good while Wynne is more than happy to cut him a deal to stay at the B&B at extremely generous off-season rates.

And that would be the crux of the conflict for this category-length story.  Aaron is in town for mysterious reasons, has secrets, and Sam cannot help but be curious (and attracted).  These two rub each other in all the right, and wrong, ways.  The secondary players round things out and give our couple more chances to get thrown together.  Sister Wynne fancies herself a Food Network wannabe and has devised weekly "date night" cooking classes hoping to drum up more business for the struggling B&B.  There's BFF Claire who thinks Sam needs to get laid (she wouldn't be wrong), plus the variety of town denizens that have popped up in previous Smithfield stories.  I've read exactly one other Smithfield book (the first one, Mark and Tony) and had no problem keeping up when the series-itis creeps in.  Again, everybody is so darn nice that I'm going back to add the stories I missed to my digital TBR.

Written in first person (for the record, I love me first person - sneer all you want naysayers), the story isn't without a few bumps along the way, but charming all the same.  There were a few instances where I would have liked a few added pages by way of fleshing out story and conflict.  I also felt that when Sam finally gets wind of why Aaron is really in town?  He's way too slow to shake the truth out of him.  It borders on slightly icky.  As the reader I knew there was going to be a reasonable explanation (and there is), but Sam not putting his foot down immediately and demanding answers before partaking in more Naughty Sexy Times with Aaron is just.....well, kinda icky.

But it's supposed to be fun, charming, and kind of like the m/m off-shoot of chick lit.  Which, you know, it is.  I'm not supposed to take it deadly serious, so I don't.  And now I want to move to Smithfield.  Hey, Mrs. Strauss is old.  Certainly she'll die soon, right?

Final Grade = B-


azteclady said...

I love LBGregg's writing voice, and you are spot on as to what is so appealing about her Men of Smithfield stories: it's about nice people, it's about obstacles that don't grind you into the ground and drag you down for eons in angst.

Mind, I love me some angst, but these are just so lovely...

Wendy said...

AL: I love angst too, but yeah - sometimes I just want a nice story about nice people. Reading this book left me with the same feeling I get when reading Karen Templeton or Cheryl St. John. Nice characters who aren't drama queens.

little alys said...

<3 you two!