Friday, February 7, 2014

"smitten book club" by colleen coble, kristin billerbeck, diann hunt & denise hunter

About the book: The century-old Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!

The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont native Pearl Chambers, a local gentlewoman from three generations back.

Little did Heather know the repercussions this little curiosity would have on her and her friends' romantic exploits.

When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.

What's more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold—exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?

In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of the Gentlewoman's Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.

My take: This is the third book in Coble, Billerbeck, Hunt, and Hunter's Smitten series, and while I've reviewed the other two installments, going back now, I find my reviews to be lacking because I talked about the books as a whole. In this review, I'll look at each novella individually and then the book as a whole.

"Love by the Book" by Colleen Coble: While "Love by the Book" is fairly predictable, it's also wholly delightful! Heather and Paul's chemistry is off the charts, and their story is sweet. My one complaint is that the reader is never fully told what happened between them in the past. I think the novella would have been better if it had opened with Paul's rejection of Heather and then skipped into present. 3-1/2 stars.

"Shelved Under Romance" by Kristin Billerbeck: For whatever reason, I could not get into this novella. The story was fine, and the characters were fine, but I felt like the novella lacked spark. I really enjoyed Wyatt and his pursuit of Abby, but once they were well on their way to romance, I found myself struggling to care. 2-1/2 stars.

"A New Chapter" by Diann Hunt: This novella has the distinction of being the only one to make me laugh out loud! I loved Lia's mother's manipulations, and the subplot with Joey's daughter was sweet and heartbreaking. I even shed a few tears at the end of the story. Joey and Lia's relationship did move at a very rapid pace, something that Hunt even acknowledged during the proposal scene, and that pace caused me to enjoy the novella a bit less. 4 stars.

"Happily Ever After" by Denise Hunter: If you've been reading my reviews for a while, you know that I love just about everything Denise Hunter writes. This novella is no exception. I'm glad it was last in the series because allowed me to finish Smitten Book Club on a high note! Molly and Gage have great chemistry, and I could relate most to Molly as a character. It's a great conclusion to the book! 4-1/2 stars. 

The anthology as a whole is enjoyable. It does have a few continuity issues (for example, in the first novella, Heather shows the book to Molly; in the second novella, she tries to keep Molly from learning about it), and I would say it's the weakest of the three Smitten novels. It's a fun, easy, quick read, but it lacks the depth of the other novels. That said, it is full of romance and fun.

I just had a thought—wouldn't it be fantastic if the Hallmark Channel would make a movie (or series) about Smitten? Hunt's For Better or For Worse is currently being adapted into a Hallmark Channel movie, so it's not out of the realm of possibility. I know I would love a small screen journey to Smitten, Vermont!

My rating: 3-1/2 stars

See what others are saying.
Buy the book.
Read my reviews of Smitten and Secretly Smitten

About the authors: RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense Tidewater Inn, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series.
novels, including

Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year award, Kristin Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. Her books include A Billion Reasons Why and What a Girl Wants.

Denise Hunter is the award-winning and best-selling author of several novels, including A Cowboy's Touch and Sweetwater Gap. She and her husband are raising three boys in Indiana.

Diann Hunt has lived in Indiana forever, been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, her dog, and, well, chocolate. Diann lost her courageous battle with cancer in December 2013.

About the giveaway: The Smitten gals are back with their newest release, Smitten Book Club! Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter are celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway, a Facebook party on February 20, and a nationwide book-club brunch on March 22.

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Smitten books (Smitten, Secretly Smitten, Smitten Book Club)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 20th. Winner will be announced at the Smitten Book Club Facebook Author Chat Party on February 20th. Connect with Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, and Kristin Billerbeck for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! The Smitten gals will also be taking questions from the audience, giving away books and gift certificates, and sharing news about their upcoming nationwide Smitten Book Club brunch on March 22nd. (Sign up to host today!)

So grab your copy of Smitten Book Club and join Colleen, Denise, Kristin, and friends on the evening of February 20th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 20th!

Sign up to host a Smitten Book Club Brunch on March 22nd!
Smitten Book Club Brunch Coble, Hunter, Billerbeck, Hunt

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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