Book Review: Rhythm and Bluegrass by Molly Harper

Rhythm and Bluegrass by Molly HarperTitle: Rhythm and Bluegrass
Series: Bluegrass, Book 2
Author: Molly Harper
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Sensuality Rating: Steamy
Source: bought
Published: October 7, 2013 by Pocket Star

Bonnie Turkle, multimedia historian for the Kentucky Commission of Tourism, is dispatched to Mud Creek, a tiny eastern Kentucky town, with few prospects but many oddballs, to rescue important artifacts from McBride’s Music Hall. Now fallen beyond disrepair, McBride’s was once a jewel of the early American music scene, an intersection of the country-western and rhythm and blues circuits. The former owner’s grandson, Will McBride, who also happens to be Mud Creek’s esteemed mayor, would like nothing more than to see the place bull-dozed in favor of a factory that will provide much-needed jobs to his citizens. But Bonnie finds evidence of a legendary musical event at the music hall and her plans to turn it into a museum put Mud Creek’s economic future at risk – not to mention the growing flirtation between the two of them. If Will and Bonnie can’t find common ground, the town’s past and future will be lost.

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Reviewed by: Lesley

Why I Read This Book: Molly Harper is one of my go-to authors when I need something that will cheer me up, make me laugh, and leave me feeling happy and optimistic. I read the first book in this series and found it light and fun, so I figured I’d give book two a try.

What I Liked: Molly Harper manages to make a town called Mud Creek seem quaint, fun, and charming. Complete with Airstream trailers and tornados, unexpected possums and mystery meat stew, the town of Mud Creek becomes a character in and of itself. And wonderful, quirky, memorable characters are in no short supply in this book.

After warming up to Bonnie, I found that I really liked her. I liked that even though she seemed to have mishap after mishap in Mud Creek, Bonnie stayed positive and hardworking (not to mention these mishaps frequently result in hilariously awkward situations!). I also liked that she owned the mistakes she made and worked doubly hard to find solutions. Even though she's interested in Will and there was clearly something between them, she didn't let that stop her from working to find a way to restore the music hall and keep the financial prospects of the town alive.

I also liked that quite a number of the characters in this book are older. Through Bonnie’s research and work on the history of the music hall, she uncovers the unexpected and brilliant lives of the town’s older residents. Older people often have wonderful stories to tell, but people don’t always take the time to listen. This book shows what hidden gems a community might have if the right questions are asked and I found that really sweet.

What I Didn’t Like: It took me a while to get a feel for Bonnie. Even though this book is written in the first person and we see everything from her POV, I still felt like she was sort of generic at the start of the book. I don’t know if it was her personality or the way the story starts out or what, but it just took me longer than I would have wanted/expected to not only like her, but to be invested in her story at all.

At times I also found myself more interested in Bonnie’s relationships with the side characters and her work than in her relationship with Will. While they did have great chemistry, and I liked the way they challenged one another but also worked together, I felt like the romance storyline wasn’t as strong as the music hall restoration plot. I ended up wanting to hear more about Miss Martha and the burlesque dancers, or Miss Earlene and her music hall past, or even Kelsey and her pack of nerds.

Will’s tactics for sabotaging Bonnie’s project also rubbed me the wrong way. He uses his position as mayor to nearly ruin Bonnie’s career and he publicly humiliates her. I don’t feel like there was enough resolution to this. In fact, more time is spent on him apologizing for not calling her than on apologizing, or even acknowledging, the horrible things he did. At the same time, she doesn’t make him address his actions, which also bothered me. To me, that was all a little too much to just sweep under the rug.

Overall Impression: Rhythm and Bluegrass is a quick and light read that, despite a few flaws, put a smile on my face. Though it’s part of a series, it can easily be read as a stand alone. The setting is charming despite its rough exterior, the characters are fun and endearing, the romance is sweet, and Molly Harper continues to write in a way that makes me embarrass myself by laughing out loud in public while buried in a book.

Lesley’s Rating:
3 1/2 Frogs

About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.


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