Sweet, small-town romances are a hot seller (interestingly right alongside erotica which is also reaching new heights with the ebook market). I’m sure we could analyze this to death – people want a connection with others, in a tough economy a small town represents caring for each other, the trend of returning to rural roots, etc. With all these reasons in mind, I predict audiences are going to love Ain’t Misbehaving, a sweet debut offering by new author Molly Cannon.
The book sucks you in with a great opening. Recent divorcee and hair stylist Marly Jean Bandy is in the truck of local handsome bachelor-about-town trying to work up the enthusiasm to have sex, but it’s just not happening for her. Her spirit was crushed when her husband left her, and not for the cuter, younger secretary. Oh no, he left her for the older, dowdier bookmobile-driving librarian in town and they are now passionately in love. Ouch.
Marly Jean’s self-esteem has certainly taken a hit, but even she realizes she hasn’t been in love with her husband for a while, and something more physical seems like a good way to ease back into the dating scene. But no sooner does she start telling her non-erotic partner that tonight will not be his lucky night that her brother’s best friend, Jake, practically wrenches the door off its hinges.
She’s had a crush on Jake for years, but as her brother’s best friend Marly Jean knows she’s practically radioactive to him. To say nothing of the fact that Jake’s father left him with severe emotional scars and as a result, Jake changes out bed partners like a manicurist changes nail polish. Yet all the time Marly Jean is dipping her toe in the dating waters, Jake is thwarting her at every turn. Even hot kissing doesn’t change his mind. What is up with him?
This was a delight to read. Great humor and a fresh approach to small-town romance always make for a book that puts a smile on your face while you read it. I always fall for the good friend trope and Jake is a good friend, just one with a lot of emotional baggage. The small town atmosphere is extremely well done, demonstrating how everyone knows everyone’s business, and how you end up having to live with people even after they hurt you, so respect and honesty are important. I appreciated how Cannon handled the ex-husband and his lover; no one was a villain here, just normal, basically nice people occasionally making selfish decisions for good reasons.
Even though the hero and heroine don’t have sex (making this a sweet romance), there is sexual tension like you wouldn’t believe and all that angst was very gratifying. Any author who can make a massive make out session in a bed hot while one of the characters is wearing a walking boot on their foot and on painkillers gets my hat doffed to them. *doffs hat*
If I have any complaint to make, it’s that Cannon’s website and blog mention that this book is part of a series, yet no indication of that series name or when the next book is to be published can be found on amazon or Goodreads. This is a big no-no; there are readers who won’t touch a book that’s not part of a series and I think that Molly Cannon should trumpet those facts to the hills to get a bigger readership. Ain’t Misbehaving deserves it!