Review: Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin

palmetto moon by kim boykinFormat read: paperback provided by the author
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: women’s fiction
Series: Lowcountry
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Date Released: August 5, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…

Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.

My Review:

Palmetto Moon is a sweet, gentle and slow-building story about a young woman who seizes her life with her own two hands, no matter what it will cost her.

Vada Hadley’s transformation from obedient society child takes both courage and time; she is a child of extreme privilege in 1947. A young Southern woman in the years after World War II, a time when women in general were supposed to give up their jobs and independence and return to subservience to the men in their lives.

Vada has returned from college at Radcliffe College (Harvard’s college for women) with the idea that she should have some say in her own life. When her wealthy parents arrange her marriage to a young man in their class who philanders now, and plans to go right on doing it after their marriage, Vada rebels.

She doesn’t love Justin, and isn’t willing to be the kind of obedient wife and social ornament that her mother has been. She wants more. It takes her almost all the time she has, until the night before her misbegotten wedding, to pluck up her courage and run.

There’s a teaching position waiting for her in the small town of Round O, if she can just get there. The parents of her heart, her parents’ servants Rosa Lee and Desmond, risk their own jobs to help her get away.

In the little town of Round O, she hides who she is. Vada just plain hides from her previous life and hopes that no one will find her or betray the secret that she refuses to tell. It’s difficult to put ourselves in her shoes; the status of women has changed a lot since those post-war years. It’s not just that her father will track her down and force her to marry Justin, but that he has the legal right to threaten Rosa Lee and Desmond with the loss of their jobs and the threat that he will make sure his friends never employ them either. As a black couple, they have no practical recourse, especially in the South.

So Vada hides, and her father sends agents out to find her. Meanwhile, Vada makes a life of her own, a life that she finds precious and an independence that is rewarding. She makes friends, and finally falls in love.

But her would-be lover doesn’t know her truth, and makes serious mistakes in trying to do the best for her, whether it is a best that she wants or not. Frank Darling loves Vada so much that he has a difficult time letting Vada make her own mistakes. And in his attempt to fix things, he unintentionally takes away some of her agency.

All the secrets come out in one nasty confrontation, when Vada’s father and her erstwhile fiance roll into Round O to show off their wealth and privilege, and to expose Frank’s good-intentioned attempts to manipulate Vada.
Not that they are not manipulating her as well, but as they both say, they’ve never lied about it.

Vada is faced with a horrible choice; to return to her life of privilege out of spite and fear, or to take up the life that she has made for herself in Round O, with Frank.

Escape Rating B: Palmetto Moon is a slowly unwinding story. It takes place in the sweltering heat of a Lowcountry summer, and meanders into Vada and Frank’s life just like the sticky heat that surrounds Round O.

Although Vada (and Frank) do find true love, the story feels like it is about Vada’s search for independence and self-determination. At first, she is running away, from her parents, from society’s expectations, and also from herself.

While there are practical reasons for Vada’s desire to keep her background secret, her embracing of that secrecy feels like another version of running away. She is over 21, and while it would be difficult for her to separate completely from her parents, she can if she is willing to pay the price in loss of money, status and privilege.

Vada’s life is more “real” in Round O, but it is also based on a lie of omission. It isn’t until all the secrets come out that she has a chance at determining her own destiny.

The example of the awful choices that face her new friend Claire serve to point out just what she is giving up. Claire is a very young war widow with three small children, and her life choices consist of living in a boarding house and taking in mending; marrying one of the old bachelor boarders who has a pension but is an asshole; or finding a job as a menial with three children in tow. All her choices initially suck. That she gets lucky in the end doesn’t take away the initial suckage.

The way that Vada takes her life into her own hands was the perfect ending to the story. Although Frank wants to rescue her from the consequences of her own (and his) bad choices, he simply doesn’t need to. Vada rescues herself; as she should.

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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Steal Me Cowboy by Kim Boykin + Giveaway

steal me cowboy by kim boykinFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: western romance, contemporary romance
Series: Copper Mountain Rodeo
Length: 102 pages
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Date Released: December 29, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon

Unbeknownst to her boyfriend, Sassy South Carolina hairstylist, Rainey Brown, is headed to Missoula, dead set on giving her minor league baseball player boyfriend of four years an ultimatum. Either put a ring on it or let her go, preferably not the latter.

When Rainey’s piece of crap car dies in the middle of Nowhere, Montana, she’s sure she’s a gonner, until gorgeous restaurateur Beck Hartnett stops to help. Beck falls hard for Rainey, and knows she would admit she’s fallen for him too, if she wasn’t too stubborn to admit it. Beck has five days before the car is repaired to steal Rainey away from a boyfriend who doesn’t deserve her. Five days before she’s gone for good.

My Review:

You can’t buy experience, but you can buy “the experience” at the Nell’s Cut ‘n Curl after Rainey Brown gets stranded in Marietta Montana.

It just takes Rainey a while to figure out that the experience she’s earning is worth even more than the experience she’s helping Nell to sell to the tourists. No matter how much money they’re putting in the karma jar.

Rainey Brown has been true to her minor league baseball playing boyfriend, Adam, for four long and lonely years while Adam has been chasing his dream of the major leagues. She hoped that one day Adam would either make it to the bigs or retire to coaching, and they would be together for good.

Instead, he took up coaching 2,000 miles from their home base in Columbia, South Carolina, and didn’t ask her to come to Missoula, Montana to be with him. He said he wanted her to “visit”. She had finally had enough. But not quite.

She packed up her suitcases and her professional cosmetic and hair dressing boxes into her beat up Honda Civic and set out for Montana. It helped that the salon she worked for had closed and left her unemployed. But still, it was the principle of the thing. It was time for them to be together.

Then her car gave a death rattle outside Marietta. Fate had other plans. Because Rainey was rescued by a cowboy. Sort of a cowboy. Certainly a man who thought that whoever put Rainey into the position of driving across country in that beat-up rat trap should be shot. Or at least horse-whipped.

Beck Hartnett set out to steal Rainey from whoever the jerk was that brought her out to Montana. He started out by alternately being a jerk himself, being marvelously sweet and helpful and pushing too fast past her boundaries.

All he really needed to do was let Nell, and Marietta, work their magic.

And let Rainey figure out what she really wanted all along.

Escape Rating B: Steal Me, Cowboy was surprisingly sweet, with just enough tart to make the perfect romantic treat. It’s also not quite as western-themed as the earlier entries in the Copper Mountain Rodeo series, this one is much more small-town romance than western.

Rainey starts out the story already conflicted about Adam. She’s kept the faith throughout their four-year relationship, and she trusts him, but she’s starting to realize that she gives a lot more than she gets. She’s always available whenever he wants, but he’s not there for her in any way. She’s ready to move on, but he won’t stick around long enough for her to even have a conversation about where they are headed, if anywhere.

Beck’s in an interesting position. He falls for Rainey the minute he sees her, and can’t figure out what to do about it. He keeps trying to do the right thing, but can’t quite figure out what the right thing exactly is. He owns the best restaurant in Marietta, he has more than enough money to fix Rainey’s car and send her on her way, but she’s too proud to take his money (and so she should be) and he wants her to stay in Marietta. Also, the more he observes her phone calls with Adam, the more certain he is that her relationship with Adam is a bad idea.

He’s right, but the breakup has to be clean, and that’s not exactly what he has in mind. What Beck has in mind is very, very dirty. An awful lot of fun, but very dirty. To be fair, Beck starts thinking about forever with Rainey pretty darn fast, and that seems to be more than Adam has ever thought about.

Still, Rainey has to get there on her own.

The character who steals the story is Nell, the owner of the Marietta Cut ‘n Curl. Nell has been “fixing” hair forever, and is still wearing a uniform and charging 1960s prices to “her people”. But she’s a friend and a second mother and a mentor to Rainey just when she needs one, and is just a totally awesome lady. Rainey asks Nell for a place to work, but what she gets is a refuge. And together, those ladies are something very special.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

Kim and her publisher, Tule Publishing, are giving away one ebook copy of Steal Me, Cowboy to one lucky winner. To enter the giveaway, just fill out the rafflecopter below. This giveaway is open to all!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.