by Virginia Campbell | 2/19/2014
" I was completely captivated by "Smitten"--a charming and involving anthology from four talented authors. I am a great fan of hometown reunion romances, and this book offers four such love stories, written with smooth continuity by each of the contributing authors. I thought that I would have a favorite among the quartet, but the flow of one story into another makes it seem like the tale is being told in one voice. Set in the picturesque and close-knit community of Smitten, Vermont, this story brings together old friends, just friends, and more than friends. When the local lumber mill closes, and economic disaster looms large over the town, four local women spring into action to save their homes and livelihoods. Each of the women convinces a special man in their life to help them convert the rugged town of Smitten into a lover's resort destination. In "Natalie: Birthday Wishes", by Colleen Coble, Natalie Mansfield, is the owner and operator of a little bake shop. She is also "Mom" to the niece abandoned into her care by her own troublesome sister, Lisa. Natalie has long been in love with Carson Smitten, the man whom Lisa named as the father of her baby daughter, Mia. While Carson has always denied ever being involved with Lisa, Natalie is torn between her love for Carson and the love of family she has for Lisa and Mia. In Kristin Billerbeck's "Julia: Small Town, Big Dreams", Julia Bourne returns to her hometown to care for her ailing mother. A New York city aesthetician with an elite society clientele, Julia decides to convince her famous and influential employer to invest in a spa in the newly remade romance retreat of Smitten. Zak Grant, the lifelong best friend of Julia's brother, has a plan of his own for Julia's future, and he just has to figure out a way to make Julia see what he sees. Diann Hunt brings us the opposites attract buddyship between Shelby Evans and Nick Majors in "Shelby: You've Got a Friend". Shelby Evans has a feminine, frilled style with lots of flash. Nick Majors has an "un-style"--sort of a low-key, stubbled lumberjack look. Despite their many differences, this mismatched duo are the best of friends. When Nick's ex-wife dies and he becomes the sole caretaker of his preteen daughter, he needs a woman's guidance. Nick's daughter Willow soon bonds with Shelby, and memories of long-kept secret from Shelby's past haunt her happy time with the young girl. As Nick and Shelby begin to disagree on how to handle Willow, they also become aware that their friendship has become a deep attraction. In "Reese: All Along", from Denise Hunter, Reese Mackenzie enlists the help of her old friend, Griffen Parker, in remodeling the building in which will open a sporting goods store. Years ago, Griffen, always in love with Reese, had left town when she became engaged to Sawyer Smitten. The engagement didn't last and Sawyer pursued a successful career in country music. Sawyer's very public engagement and wedding plans become part of the Smitten community make-over, and he even writes a song to promote the romantic image of the town as a lover's paradise. When Reese finally faces the fact that Sawyer will never be hers, can Griffen make her see that the friend from her past is the key to her future happiness? When you read these four engagingly intertwined tales of romance, you will be "smitten"--just like me! I look forward to the next book from these four lovely and talented ladies, "Secretly Smitten", which will be released in December, 2012. A personal side note from me: I live in a small Virginia mountain community which is economically dominated by a paper mill. If our mill were to close, it would truly devastate the community. I could only hope that there would be enterprising souls with a true love of home and family who would band together to not just survive, but thrive!
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