06 February 2014

Review: Three stars for Marie Force's predictable romance All You Need is Love, the first book in her new Green Mountain series

I love reading romances. I love reading small town romances. What I don’t love is feeling like I’m reading a formula romance. You know, let’s set a series in a feel good place, think up some quirky outlandish characters, invent a town mascot, and voila, have a bestselling series. I know this happens to some extent with many romance novels, I'm not that naive, but when I open up the first book in a series and just feel manipulated as a reader from almost the first few pages? Not cool, definitely not cool.

However, I try to be an impartial reader and if a few things strike me as fake at first, I let them slide. Then came the six figure cost for a website, that was accepted without going out to bid. Oh boy, that just set my BS meter off and I felt like I was talking with a friend back in the late ’90s when everyone had to have a website and costs like that might not have seemed outlandish. Now, a retailer (not an Amazon, but a small town retailer) wouldn’t need to invest more than say a quarter of that proposed figure to have a more than decent storefront. Having worked with web designers who’ve developed award-winning sites most of my professional life, I’m secure in stating this. But hey, this is a romance so nothing is really based on facts, right?

Big sigh from me as I type those words, because that’s a cop out. I could just say, hey, this is a “fun” romance from a New York Times bestselling author, pick it up, and feel good for the two plus hours it might take you to read it. But I wouldn’t be honest. It’s a trite, formulaic, and boring (yes, that’s the kicker, boring) story. When the formula is so evident that it screams at the reader from the first page; the characters drawn to be charming, but just really blah; and the family that’s featured has ten children, so you know that this new series will have at least ten books (great franchise, right), I just give up. Truly give up.

If you haven’t already guessed, yes, I’m talking about indie powerhouse author Marie Force, of the McCarthys of Gansett Island fame, and her new book ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, the first in her Green Mountain series to be published by Berkley (Penguin).

Many of my relatives settled near or in the Northeast Kingdom area of Vermont, which Force depicts in her book, so I’ve visited it many times. I love Vermont, the rural settings, and I tend to love books set there - Beth Ciotta’s Cupcake Lovers series and Sarah Morgan’s O’Neil Brothers series spring to mind - but found myself cringing with Force’s depiction of her cobbled together town.

By mid-way through the book I was skipping pages in my Kindle, which I never do. By the time I completed it, I was just bored out of my mind and really felt cheated by this author whom I had admired. To be absolutely frank, I hadn’t liked her two most recent Gansett Island books as I felt that they were rushed and - get this - more formulaic than necessary. However, I attributed this to the fact she might be getting tired of that series, so was really looking forward to her new series and new book that I thought would be energized once again with the passion of the early Gansett Island books. Perhaps my expectations were too high? I’m not sure, but this was almost a DNF and I never ever don’t finish a book.

If you’re looking for a predictable, “sweet,” unchallenging, and “charming” romance you could borrow this book from the library (I don’t advise you to add it to your permanent shelf as I doubt you’ll want to read it again). But really, if you’re looking for a series set in Vermont that really is interesting, pick up any of Beth Ciotta’s Cupcake Lovers books or indeed Sarah Morgan’s Sleigh Bells in the Snow - you’ll have a much more enjoyable read and introduction to this beautiful area.

As I don’t award half stars, I’m rounding up and giving three stars to Marie Forces’s ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, a too predicable and formulaic read for this reviewer to truly enjoy.






From the Publisher



A Green Mountain Romance Book 1
All You Need is Love by Marie Force
Berkley (Penguin Group)
ISBN 9780425266762
Price $5.99 ($7.99 print edition)
Publication date February 4, 2014

The family-run Green Mountain Country Store is cherished by locals as a reminder of simpler times. The Abbott children are determined to keep it that way—but their father has different plans…

When Cameron Murphy heads to Vermont to build a website for a new client, she imagines a more relaxing trip than she gets. After wrecking her car by colliding with the town moose, she meets the most handsome hero she’s ever seen. Unfortunately, her savior, Will Abbott, is also the son of her client—and he wants nothing to do with the new website or the city girl creating it.

For all Will cares, Cameron can march her fancy boots right out of town and out of his family’s business. But he can’t seem to get her out of his head. As his family’s dispute heats up, so does the chemistry between the two, leaving them wondering if simple is better after all—especially when it comes to matters of the heart.