RECEIVED A FREE COPY IN EXCHANGE FOR A REVIEW
****THERE ARE NO SPOILERS****
The Gist: If you are looking for a saccharine sweet romance with a dollop of heart-wrenching, Second Chance Grill is the novel for you. It is well written and very similar to those feel-good romances that find their way to the top of the movie charts. I recommend this small town with a big heart tale one hundred percent. I take issue with some parts, but overall, it is a sweet tale of finding your second chance.
SYNOPSIS: “An unforgettable tale of love, loss and second chances. Second Chance Grill is the prequel to Treasure Me, 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards Finalist, which The Midwest Book Review calls “A riveting read for those who enjoy adventure fiction, highly recommended.” Dr. Mary Chance needs a sabbatical from medicine to grieve the loss of her closest friend. But when she inherits a struggling restaurant in Liberty, Ohio she isn’t prepared for Blossom Perini. Mary can’t resist falling for the precocious preteen–or the girl’s father. The bond they forge will transform all their lives and set in motion an outpouring of love that spreads across America.”
THE LOWDOWN: As some of you know, I usually don’t gravitate to feel-good romances. I practically broke out in hives after watching the Notebook and I had to get my stomach pumped after attempting to read The Host. I am not one for gushy-squishy soliloquy’s about unrequited love. My preference is for gritty real-life, take or leave it “I need you now and I don’t care that we are sitting in the middle of 5 star restaurant, with people watching” stories, but I do like thought out, well written happy endings. I don’t do chaste…especially since it is usually a pipe dream. However, this book mixed it up a little. With just the right amount of “take me” thrown in, I didn’t feel the need to vomit roses.
That aside, I can appreciate a well-written story regardless of its creative makeup. I am a writer after all and Nolfi is definitely one to watch.
Second Chance Grill is the second in the Liberty series; however, you don’t need to read the first to understand the second. Nolfi paints a bright picture with her words, stained with dark moments. It isn’t always hearts and flowers and there is a lot of sadness, but it works. I can’t say much more without giving it away so I will quit while ahead. Her female characters are strong and smart. They care about each other and the small community is tight-knit. Like most small town stories, there is a mean girl and lots of whispering, gossipy old ladies, but there is also a lot of love. The male protagonist is caring, deep and strong. He gives up his life to take care of his daughter who becomes ill and after having his heart trampled on, he remains opposed to dating for eleven years…until he meets the new girl in town. This is no bad boy story ladies.
My main issue with the book is the how the love unfolds. One minute the two future lovers are stealing glances and giggles and the next minute they are declaring their undying love for one another. The falling in love plays out in their heads, not with each other. Don’t get me wrong, love didn’t come quick, it took nearly three-quarters of the book to happen (that was a little tedious) but when it did happen, I didn’t feel it was through a natural progression. They only had one date (no sex) and then BAM! they can’t live without each other. But hey, I can suspend disbelief.
I also found it moved a little to slow. I wanted more, but didn’t get it until the end. I knew where it was headed, so by the time the good stuff began I felt a little angry at the characters for taking so long to realize what I knew 75 pages ago. Further, the end felt a little rushed. I thought that the meat of the story, which unfolds after a tragedy, resolves too quickly, but it wasn’t enough to distract me from my overall feelings of the book. Finally, without giving much away, the relationship breakthrough between Blossom and Mary in the final pages felt a little forced. Again, I don’t want to spoil it, so that is about as far as I can go without a reveal.
If you love your stories dripping with small town charm and girl-next-door meets closed-off-good-guy, then this is the one for you. If you like, a little dirt in your clean, you won’t get much here, but check it out for yourself and give this one a “Chance”!
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