Friday, March 9, 2012

Review of Laid Out and Candle Lit

Anyone who says small towns are boring has obviously never been to Brownsboro, Tx. The names or the townsfolk alone are enough to get you smiling. Add in skunks, better than sex cupcakes, a Texas Ranger, a local girl who talks to the dead, and murder…well you can see this “podunk” town is anything but boring. 

Right from the first chapter, Brownsboro snags your attention. When Tizzy Donovan makes her daily jog through the cemetery to talk to those who are gone, but not necessarily quiet, she finds a body that’s not supposed to be there. That gives the whole town a dose of drama they weren’t expecting. The Texas Ranger assigned to the murder walks in thinking it will be an open and shut case. But the first murder in Brownsboro in fifty years proves more difficult than he expected. Who knew maneuvering the secrets and lies of small town living would be so hard?

But the mystery is really only part of the story. Tizzy and Ridge are presented with a problem almost from the first moment they meet. Although attracted to each other in an almost painful way, Tizzy is the main suspect in a murder case and Ridge is there to put someone –and it’s not looking good for Tizzy-in jail for the murder. Not to mention both of them have difficult pasts that making letting someone in even harder.
When I first announced Laid Out and Candle Lit, I promised it would make you laugh and cry and everything in between. I hadn’t actually read the book when I said that, but I have had the privilege of reading an early copy of Ann Everett’s second book, You’re Busting My Nuptials, which was hilarious and sexy and heartwarming all at the same time, so I knew this one was going to be good too.

And it was!

I had so much fun reading Laid Out and Candle Lit. The mystery was great. I had sneaking suspicions here and there, but Ann did a great job of never giving you too much of a clue to ruin the mystery. She threw out so many very plausible options for who murdered Marlene, that pinning one down was difficult. My only complaint about the mystery is that I would have liked to have felt a little more anxiety about how Tizzy was going to come out of the ordeal. Otherwise, I really enjoyed trying to figure out which of locals were hiding dirty little secrets. As the investigation progressed, I was right there with Bubba, saying, “This just keeps getting better and better.”

The romance between Tizzy and Ridge was steamy and torturous at the same time. I think just about every reader (well at least the women) will fall in love with Ridge. Who can resist a tall dark and handsome Texas Ranger wearing a pink feather boa as he plays tea party with a four-year-old? And Tizzy is such a good, kind person that I was just dying for her to find some happiness. Despite Tizzy’s sweetheart status and Ridge’s heart-melting personality, nothing about this story is easy. The second they get close to each other something pulls them apart-whether it be misunderstandings, fear, or psychos, simply enjoying each other seems impossible. Just when you think everything is gumdrops and lollipops for Tizzy and Ridge, you read on and the warm fuzzies go out the window! I loved it.

The mystery and romance were fantastic, but what really pulled everything together was the town and its inhabitants. Ann mentioned in her interview that much of Brownsboro came from real life, and obviously that’s the way to do it. I loved all the little quirks and tidbits that go along with small town living. I grew up in a small town myself, so hearing that someone lives “out in the boonies” made me laugh out loud because I thought that phrase was just another one of those weird things my mom used to say. Details like the town only having one stoplight and one warning light immediately bring smalltowners like me home, and the gossip and excitement of knowing everyone else’s business in a small town is definitely all too familiar. What was really great about Ann’s description of the town was that it doesn’t only speak to those familiar with rural living. You also get to see the town through Ridge’s eyes, which helps to pull in those who’ve never had to experience their entire town knowing exactly who drove you home last night and whether or not they left before dawn.  

Overall, the book was fabulous. I loved every word. I have a lot of respect for writers who can put humor to good use (I’m not one of those, trust me) because it adds a whole different layer to the story. But you won’t just laugh as you read Laid Out and Candle Lit. You’ll tear up when you think nothing is going to work out, and you’ll be grabbing for tissues when it does. Your heart will melt when Ridge says the sweetest things you’ve ever heard, and when little Gracie steals the scene. In short, you’ll love the book down to the last word, and then you’ll be bugging Ann to find out when book two is coming out! Even having already read the second book I still can’t wait to read it again. Go get your copy of Laid Out and Candle Lit today, and don’t plan on doing anything else for a few days because you won’t want to put it down.

Would I recommend this book? Of course!

Who would I recommend this book to? Pretty much everyone. There’s so much to love about this book, every reader will connect with something-whether it be the town, the characters, the mystery, or the romance…or Sweet Thangs Bakery! There is some sex in the book, though, for those who prefer not to read that, but it certainly isn’t the main focus of the book.

So hurry up and go get your copy!