Laidback and easygoing, this small town/single mom romance is soft and a little sweet. I loved the concept of two people finally getting to truly know each other after years of being reluctant acquaintances. There was just enough history between them to keep things interesting without bogging the story down, and that added a richness to their interactions. There’s also the juxtaposition of the “saint-like” single mom against the “sinner” eccentric strip club owner, which created some tension behind the prospect of them getting together. I loved Hank; he was such a sweetheart with Charlotte’s kids, and that made for some incredibly swoony moments. He also seemed like such a good guy at work, so I had no problems falling for him. Actually, I would’ve liked more backstory on Hank’s reputation, because the story didn’t really show why women would be reluctant to date him publicly, other than his business. I certainly didn’t find him eccentric. That would be my biggest complaint about the book overall – it gets sidetracked with the townsfolk, and the relationship development is lacking for a book of this length. It makes a very solid addition to the series though, and I enjoyed it the whole way through.
The story follows Charlotte, a divorced mother of four. People in town believe that she can do no wrong, so they are aghast when Charlotte applies for a job as an exotic dancer. Charlotte is looking for her cousin (it’s complicated), and she thinks that getting to know the dancers in town will help find her. She’ll only be at the job for a couple of weeks, she justifies, and any modesty she had left went out the window after the fourth kid. But Hank, the owner of the club, has no intention of hiring the woman who will only sully his club’s reputation even further. The two clash, and it’s not long before Hank is reluctantly offering Charlotte another position. As the two spend time together, they realize that they never really knew each other at all – and they like what they see. But Charlotte doesn’t have room for anyone else in her life, and Hank knows that it probably wouldn’t be a guy with such a questionable reputation if she did.
Can you read this as a standalone? Eh… I guess you could, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are a LOT of other characters involved in the story (probably too many), with complicated backstories and community ties. I had trouble keeping up, and I’ve read this whole series plus a few other books about the town. That does make it difficult for new readers to jump in, and it took away from the love story at times. That being said, there’s nothing about Hank and Charlotte’s relationship that I didn’t like. There’s friction between them at the start, but I loved when they saw beyond the surface level interactions they’ve had in the past. Hank makes a very compelling hero – loving, supportive, understanding, and totally gone for Charlotte’s kids. I liked that Charlotte was such a strong heroine, and that Hank’s career didn’t faze her. Seeing Hank’s insecurities made the love story feel deeper, and I thought they were great together. Their love story was quieter and more tender than I anticipated, and probably would’ve made for an easy 5-star rating with more focus on the couple and less on the community itself.
He needs to get her out of his system. Just once…
Hank Weller doesn’t help people. He leaves that do-gooder nonsense to his best friend, Beau Winston. Hank does what he wants, when he wants, with whomever he wants—and Hank does not want to hire Charlotte Mitchell to be an exotic dancer at his club, The Pink Pony. Sure, he can’t help noticing the dips and curves of her, how shrewd, smart, and funny she is, the fire in her hazel eyes. He’s always noticed. She’d probably draw a crowd and entice the regulars. But after Charlotte’s messy, public divorce made Hank’s club out to be the culprit—and made her the single mother of four kids—he doesn’t need or want any additional bad press courtesy of Charlotte Mitchell. Or the distraction. Unfortunately for him, the town’s prettiest charity case doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the words nope, no, and never.
Charlotte Mitchell doesn’t much like Hank Weller. Once upon a time, she used to. Years ago, she liked him a whole heckofalot despite other folks in town labeling him as “eccentric” and “nonconformist,” which were polite southern alternatives to “filthy rich” and “self-centered douchebag.” Her opinion of him changed dramatically after he volunteered to be her date to junior prom and then promptly stood her up. They haven’t so much as acknowledged each other in over a decade. But a sudden family emergency means Charlotte needs access to Hank’s club ASAP. Unfortunately for her, the narcissistic fancy-pants doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the words help, generosity, and compassion.
But he’s about to find himself schooled. Charlotte is going to teach Hank a lesson once and for all about basic human decency, whether he likes it or not.
Spoiler alert. . . he likes it.
Start the series 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.
Their story continues in Totally Folked! TOTALLY FOLKED is a standalone, contemporary romantic comedy novel and book #1 in the Good Folk: Modern Folktales series.
Read the audiobook review here
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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