Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Salting Roses by Lorelle Marinello — 336 pgs

Book CoverGracie Lynne Calloway has lived in Southern Alabama since the day, as a newborn infant, she was deposited on her uncle's front step in a coal bucket. Though her mother never came back for her, Gracie found all the love and support she needed from her uncles Ben and Artie and her aunt Alice. Gracie has grown into a tomboy with a strong work ethic and little time for the softer emotions, and is constantly thwarting her aunt's efforts to entice her to settle down and raise a family. On Gracie's 25th birthday, a stranger named Sam arrives in town and delivers some shocking news. It turns out that Gracie isn't Gracie at all, but the kidnapped daughter of a millionaire, and since her father has recently passed away, Gracie is set to inherit $650 million. Although the money seems like a blessing, Gracie wants nothing to do with it and Sam has his work cut out for him. When Gracie's forgotten family gets news that she's alive and set to inherit her father's empire, things go from bad to worse. Now Sam has to figure out a way to make Gracie accept her new position and fortune despite her reluctance, and also find a way to ease his troubled heart that beats stronger every time Gracie is in the room. In this rags-to-riches Cinderella story, Marinello shares the story of one very stubborn protagonist who wishes to stay buried in obscurity when the unexpected knocks on her door.

I'm not sure this story worked for me. While I do love a good rags-to-riches tale with a southern feel, there were a few things that just rubbed me the wrong way. I did enjoy parts of the book and it would be misleading to say I didn't enjoy the story as a whole, but some things I discovered as I read were not all that pleasing nor rewarding for me.

While the story had a rich and evocative feel, I just couldn't get over Gracie's stubbornness. I frequently felt she was being contrary just for the sake of being contrary. Maybe the problem is I can't imagine a person wanting to turn down that kind of money. To me, it didn't feel realistic. On one hand, I understood that Gracie wanted to keep her past life intact and didn't want the complications that all this money would bring; but on the other, her family had need of the money and her hard-headed attempts to reject it didn't strike me as a particularly strong character decision. I also felt that Gracie was generally a very antagonistic person. She was always bucking the system and came off as very hard-boiled. She did adopt a softer attitude toward the latter sections of the book, but overall, I just didn't like her very much. She was a spitfire for sure, but I think I would have been more satisfied if she had been a little more emotionally available and gentle.

One thing I particularly liked was the strong family bonds and attachments that the characters had towards one another. There was a sort of cohesiveness to Gracie's second family that I felt was very genuine and touching. Though at times they hid the harsher facts of their lives from her, they seemed to do this for her peace of mind and to protect her from some of the unpleasantness of life. Though theirs was a strange arrangement, it worked for Gracie and it was easy to see why she had such strong ties to them. I liked that they were careful in the way they handled her and I felt their actions bespoke a great love for this orphaned child that they came to care for.

The relationship that began between Sam and Gracie was not hard to spot coming out of the gate, but I actually liked that aspect of the book. Sam was the impetus for change in Gracie and he taught her to be more genteel and soft, putting her rough exterior behind her. Though theirs was a relationship that began with a lot of lust, Marinello toned it down nicely in the middle of the book and it was easy to see why they were drawn to each other and fit together so nicely. Sam tempered something in Gracie, and though she tried to buck away from him, he was tenacious and persistent, ultimately forcing her to reveal a side of herself that was previously unseen.

I guess the main thing that bothered me was the implausibility of it all. Who in their right mind would turn down a fortune that was left to them? Why was everyone so bent on treating a twenty-five year old woman like a child, and why was Gracie such an unbelievable sourpuss all the time? While I was reading, I asked myself if these were realistic situations or was all this fabricated to make for a rollicking story, and I had to conclude that there was something over the top about all of it. It was interesting to see what would happen with it all but somehow the unrealistic aspects of the story made me hold the characters and their plights at arm's length.

Though there was a lot I enjoyed about this book, there were also things I felt were a bit overdone. Where I think Marinello succeeds is on her strong family creation and her ability to fashion a love story using some very headstrong characters. I would recommend this book to those looking for a fairy tale like story, and must conclude that there are readers out there who are a lot less picky than I am who would enjoy it. An interesting, if uneven tale.

About The Author

Lorelle Marinello has won numerous awards for her writing, including the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart for Best Single Title Romance in 2005.

Lorelle received her BA in Fine Arts from San Diego State University. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. In her free time she enjoys landscape gardening and researching her family's Southern genealogy. Her first novel, Waltzing with Alligators, inspired by her Southern roots, debuted in 2008.

Find out more about Lorelle at her website.

TLC Book Tours A warm thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing this book for me to read and review. Please continue to follow the tour by visiting these other blogs:

Tuesday, November 30th:Rundpinne
Wednesday, December 1st:Thoughts From an Evil Overlord
Thursday, December 2nd:Raging Bibliomania
Tuesday, December 7th:Life in the Thumb
Wednesday, December 8th:Calico Critic
Thursday, December 9th:The Lost Entwife
Monday, December 13th:Café of Dreams
Thursday, December 16th:Book Club Classics!
Monday, December 20th:In the Next Room
Tuesday, December 21st:Tales of a Capricious Reader
Wednesday, December 22nd:Books Like Breathing
Tuesday, December 28th:BookNAround
Wednesday, December 29th:Peetswea

This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I always enjoy your reviews, and feel that you do such a fantastic job of honestly sharing both the good and the bad. I can definitely see your thoughts on this one, but it might be one that I might still enjoy -- every now and again, I do like a good fairy tale! But...I do agree that it is sort of difficult to wrap my head around why it's so difficult to accept inherited fortune? Sign me up for that problem! :)

Missy B. said...

Well done review! It was thorough and honest. I am adding it to my wish list because I think it is one that I would enjoy.

~Happy Reading~

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Nice review! And I agree, even if you don't want it, you can give it to charity! Or to me! (for example) Too bad it wasn't as well done as the premise would suggest, though.

Amy said...

You write such beautiful reviews! This sounds like an interesting premise but is quite possibly a book I could easily skip.

bermudaonion said...

I had high hopes for this book because of the south Alabama setting, so I'm disappointed to see the story seems implausible.

Suko said...

Zibilee, your review is thorough and well written and honest, as usual. I really hadn't heard much about this book prior to reading your review.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie had a thought-provoking post yesterday about our criteria for "over the top" with fiction, versus non-fiction. It makes me sift through books like this a little differently. Still, I've been in your shoes. I had that same problem with "Garden Spells", where the protagonist was just a bitchy, repressed prude who refuses to let happiness in her life. I was annoyed with her excuse of baggage...everybody's got baggage! Get over it! I know that there are people out there that would refuse a gazillion dollars based on principle, but I don't want to be around them.

Amy said...

Great review. I feel I wouldn't like it, but it does sound interesting. Too bad it ultimately didn't do it for you either though. My question is... umm... wouldn't there have been a HUGE search for the missing daughter of a millionaire? Wouldn't they be a little like 'wow, someone dropped off a baby and never came back, that's odd and suspicious'? Or was that part well explained?

Zibilee said...

That was explained, and a plot point hinges on that very situation, but to my mind, it was a little implausible as well. Overall, I just think things were a little too pat and easily explained, and it didn't have the hallmarks or the true neediness of real life.

Zibilee said...

Err, sorry. That should have read the messiness of real life.

Audra said...

Thanks for the honest review -- I do get frustrated when plot is thrown in at the expense of realistic response. I suppose the argument can be made that *someone* might respond in X way but still -- sometimes it's a little maddening!

Darlene said...

I thought this book sounded really good and I still do think the storyline sounds like something I would like. I do have to say though that I doubt anyone in their right mind would turn down a fortune so I'd find that pretty unbelievable too.

Jenners said...

I'm with you ... I don't think I could get over the implausibility of turning down that kind of money ... especially when she and her family could use it.

Thanks, as always, for your thoroughness and honesty.

Anonymous said...

Great review! Couldn't she have just kept some of the money and given the rest away? Think of the books she could've bought!

TheBookGirl said...

I am willing to suspend disbelief when reading something light or pure entertainment reading, but am less patient with storylines that strain credulity in more serious fiction. Appreciate the honest review.

Ana S. said...

Not being able to suspend your disbelief can really ruin a book! Sorry you didn't enjoy this one more - though you definitely did a great job of highlighting both the good and the bad in it.

Heather J. @ TLC Books said...

I'm glad that you were able to enjoy the other characters and the family ties, even if you didn't really connect with Gracie and her story.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

ooo, i have this book on my shelves to read but have not been able to get to it yet ~ i can already sense that the very same things will frustrate me too! i dislike a too-strong protagonist that cannot or will not emotionally resonate. And to think she is so reluctant to accept that kind of money - yeah the headaches that come with it, but in this day and time....hmmm, wonder if the economy has anything to do with our own perspective?

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