Small town, slow burn goodness with a hero whose self-doubt made my chest ache; this is quite the series starter. I went into this with an interesting perspective – I’ve read a few of Reid’s books, but it’s been 3 years since the last time and I certainly don’t know all of the inner workings of this small town. I know many readers hated the hero, Jackson, before they even dived into Totally Folked, but he’s just a reformed playboy to me – and a very, very compelling one at that. The prequel novella, Just Folking Around, certainly left me with quite the first impression. Jackson is steady and sexy, confident some moments and breathtakingly vulnerable in others. Jackson’s playboy past has shaped him into the man he is today, and his desire to love and be loved was one of the best parts of this book.
Note: this love story begins in the prequel novella, and that is absolutely essential for your enjoyment of Totally Folked. The story would feel exceedingly slow-paced if you haven’t experienced Raquel and Jackson together first. My ebook copy included the novella at the start, but the audio version does not. Be sure you read that first.
The story follows Raquel, a bombshell of an actress who is tired of faking it. She loves acting, but everything else that goes along with it is beginning to feel tiresome. Not only does she fake it for the cameras, but she’s also been faking a relationship for the last several years. So when she returns to the small town that made a lasting impression 5 years ago, it’s a breath of fresh air… and she’s secretly hoping that she’ll run into the man who made her last visit so memorable. Jackson and Raquel have the kind of chemistry that could light a match, but he isn’t the same guy that she left behind – and he doesn’t seem overly enthusiastic about her return.
This is a series starter that WILL stand on its own, but there are a LOT of appearances from past couples and characters. I’m only vaguely familiar with the series that this spins-off from, and I had no trouble keeping up. But if I have one complaint about the book, it’s that there could’ve been more focus on our couple instead of the town itself. Longtime fans are sure to appreciate the many characters who make this a richer, fuller experience, but anyone starting out is just going to want more Raquel and Jackson. Because they were fantastic together. Their banter and chemistry had me hooked from their first interaction in the novella, and that spark of attraction is what allows this slow burn romance to truly simmer. It’s a slow, laidback pace that’s heartfelt and a little emotional, pairing moments of humor with some quiet depth as well. I loved Jackson’s backstory and he is an absolute gentleman in present day – easily one of my favorite parts of the story. His heartache and yearning had me turning the pages, and Raquel and Jackson’s happy ending felt deep and real by the end… even if more time could’ve been spent with them instead of the townsfolk. But maybe I’m just being greedy – this was definitely good.
Audio note: I liked it! The audio was enjoyable and perfect for an easygoing listen. Both narrators did a great job, and I particularly liked the subtle accent of the male narrator. They enrich the small town feel and their voices were soothing and almost calming for me. It’s dual narration and the perspectives shift from chapter to chapter, so we get plenty of both voices throughout. The slow burn of the story lends itself well to a workday listen (very little NSFW content until later on), though the length is a bit cumbersome. At over eleven hours, it took me two days to get through the whole book, AND I had to read through my ebook of the novella before starting – because I wasn’t about to use another credit on a 60ish page introduction. Certainly worth a listen, just be aware of the novella element before diving in.
One unforgettable night leads to an unlikely shared connection, and unlikely connections never go unnoticed by the good folks in Green Valley, Tennessee. . .
Jackson James follows the rules. He has to. He’s a sheriff’s deputy in a super small town with a super big personality. However, strict adherence to the law during the day has been enjoyably balanced by rakish rules at night. Jackson, typically happy to protect and serve (and serve, and serve), starts questioning the value of wayward evenings when getting laid starts to feel more like being waylaid. Could it be that Green Valley’s most eligible—and notorious—bachelor longs for something (and someone) real?
Mega movie star Raquel Ezra follows only one rule: always leave them wanting more. Studio execs, reporters, audiences, fans, lovers—no one can get enough of the smart, savvy, and sexy bombshell. But when “generous offers” begin to feel more like excessive demands, years of always leaving has the elusive starlet longing for something (and perhaps someone) lasting.
When Raquel abruptly returns to the quirky Tennessee hamlet, her path crosses with the delectable deputy with whom she spent one unforgettable night. Unfortunately, scandal and intrigue soon follow. Raquel and Jackson must decide which is more important: following their rules? Or, at long last, finding something real.
TOTALLY FOLKED is a standalone, contemporary romantic comedy novel and book #1 in the Good Folk: Modern Folktales series.
Start with Just Folking Around!
One night? No strings? A sexy game of chess? No problem.
If you’ve never read a Penny Reid book before, this is the place to start! An all new series starter snack from the author of the WINSTON BROTHERS and KNITTING IN THE CITY series. . .
Raquel Ezra loves to fish. With so many fish in the sea, she’s never had a problem baiting the hook or reeling them in. Raquel is a good actress, she can be anyone’s fantasy for a single night as long as they agree to be hers. Which is why she doesn’t think twice about spending an evening in nowhere Tennessee with a smokin’ hot, well-mannered, and intriguing sheriff’s deputy by the name of Jackson James.
Except, when the time comes, Raquel discovers that reality might just be better than any fantasy, and maybe she’s not ready to release this catch.
JUST FOLKING AROUND is a 16k words, contemporary romance, a complete standalone, and is the prequel to TOTALLY FOLKED, book #1 in the Good Folk: Modern Folktales series.
About the Author:
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Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.
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