Undone by Shannon Richard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I have to say up front that I am giving this book 3/5 stars more because I would love to travel to Mirabelle, FL, than to give the rating because of the writing. I requested this book to read because I like fish out of water stories, and the fact that Paige was from Philly (where I am now) piqued my interest. Paige is a young artist who has experienced a series of setbacks - her best friend and roommate moved away for a new job, she lost her own job, her boyfriend broke up with her - and all of this has cumulated in Paige moving in with her parents, who have retired to a small town in Florida. Paige is miserable there; simply put, she does not fit in. She wears bright colors, goes running in short shorts, and spends so much time in her parents' shed-now-art studio that the neighbors think she is having illicit parties in there. It has come to the point that people in town are inviting her to job interviews just so they can laugh at her. She meets Brendan, a local man who has had own problems fitting in despite being from Mirabelle, and the two fall in love.
One of my issues with this book is that Ms. Richard has a grand vision for this series, and as a result the storytelling is not very tight. As this is the opening book, she has to introduce you to so many characters and places and events, that somehow the main characters get lost in the shuffle. So many times in the course of the story I found myself wishing there was a cast of characters listed so I could follow along with who was related to whom. There are many hints as to who will be paired up in future additions to this series, and I think maybe I would like those stories better, partly due to the characters up for pairing, and partly because the world and character building will have been established.
Another issue for me was the lack of closure with certain events, and I hope that these issues get resolved in future books. One of these issues was the local gossip blog - I don't understand how that character could get away with such flaming defamation and the local police say there is nothing they can do about it. Some characters were so downright nasty (Verna and Missy, I'm looking at you!), a reader really has to hope they get what is coming to them. My personal wish is that we find out that the two of them have been embezzling from the funeral home and they end up going to jail.
When I finished reading the book last night, I found myself feeling rather meh about Paige and Brendan. They were sweet together and good for one another, but I had a hard time getting excited about them. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, the location was another matter altogether. I think Ms. Richard did a fabulous job of imagining Mirabelle - the beaches, the boardwalk, the cafes, the festivals - even the funeral home!
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