Wednesday, May 28, 2008

All Shook Up by Susan Andersen *****

First I have to say I think Susan Andersen is now my favorite author. Or maybe it's just because I just read another book I loved!!

Next I have to say, thank you John Lippincott for suggesting I blog, because now that I have a place to write down my book thoughts, maybe I'll remember them a little bit longer. I just browsed a PBS member's book list, and she had several LaVyrle Spencer books on it. I couldn't remember whether or not I already had them, and had to look at my Spencer book list. Not only did I already order them, I'd already READ them and couldn't even remember the plot.

Maybe I should update my word doc lists with plot synopses as well to jog my memory...

OK - now to All Shook Up. The heroine Dru is an orphan, raised by her aunt and uncle, and she's also a single mother as the result of a love affair in college. The boy's father split when he found out she was pregnant, and has never been heard from again. Now - on a side bar here - I wondered if in the whole year they were lovers, did she never meet his family?? Or what? But never mind that, he's out of the picture completely.

Her aunt and uncle own half of a thriving resort in East Washington state - the other owner was her great aunt, now deceased, who willed it to a former foster child, the hero J.D. Our hero is one of those bad boys, moved from foster home to foster home, rough life, bad friends - but his encounter with the great aunt, while brief, brought him two things: self respect BUT instilled in him a great distrust of do-gooders - due to a Big Misunderstanding. The great aunt apparently accused him of stealing something from her while he was living there, and he ran off and never had contact with her again. She wrote him letters that he never opened but that he carried with him. Of course, the item was found, not stolen, and she apologized but he never knew. And now he has the guilt of her giving him this half ownership, but the mistrust of the other owners.

Plus, he needs mothering - and when he first meets Dru and her boy, he sees a life he never had, the kind of mothering he wished for. Not to mention apparently she's easy on the eyes, and he develops an attraction for her even though she's not His Type.

As I write this, the characters sound oh-so-familiar. But as always with romance novels, it's the journey, not the formula, that makes it. And I loved this journey!

Dru is also attracted to him, and it frankly makes her edgy. Ok, it makes her downright bitchy to him - but she's not so stubborn that she can't back off and be polite. That makes him even more distrustful - what's up with that, he thinks! But pretty quickly she realizes that his behavior is covering up his true feelings - not just of the attraction, but his feelings about friendship, family, love - the things he hasn't had a good role model for and doesn't know how to develop and keep. This all seemed very real to me.

There's another misunderstanding: JD's friend from Seattle who has a secret that he thinks JD knows about. And he's out to keep JD from ever telling the secret - or anything else ever again.

There's a secondary romance - the aunt and uncle, who are still hot for each other, although the aunt is now going through menopause and having all the bad symptoms - mood swings, hot flashes. Oh and a third, not well developed romance between Dru's 2 best friends. I think the best friends are just an excuse to get JD's hackles up, though, although it's nice to have the heroine have other friends...

Of course there's a totally satisfying HEA - and when the kid asks JD if he can call him Dad after they're married, well, I for one found it very heart warming (and so did JD). Five stars!

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