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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Falling in Love by Pauline Trent

Falling In Love by Pauline Trent
Published: Kensington
Length: Full
Heat: sweet
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Lambert Falls, North Carolina, is a small Southern town where the past and present effortlessly mingle. Here, the pace is sweet and tranquil—but life can still offer up its share of surprises…

After years in the military, Chris Montgomery is looking for somewhere to relax and recharge, and Lambert Falls, with its tree-lined streets and picturesque town square, seems ideal. Chris expected that a stranger in town would attract suspicion and gossip. He didn’t expect to meet someone like Angie Kane, with her warm, open smile and self-contained air that are instantly intriguing.

Angie has built a satisfying life for herself, one she’s not willing to uproot for someone who’s just passing through. But Chris is quietly persistent—not to mention handsome and charming. Against her own better judgment, Angie finds herself falling deeper than she ever intended—until one phone call forces her to choose between the town she’s always loved, and a man she can’t imagine living without…

Trent’s Falling in Love sets off as a surprisingly demanding read; from a close-up of the battle field to a close-up of small-town America.

The exacting be-there and live-it detail is, at first, puzzling. However, we do come to understand the characters from a better perspective and at a greater depth, because of this approach.

Chris Montgomery seems a thoroughly admirable man from the outset. Not only is he a hero, but he is a loyal friend and a persistent admirer. He’s the goofy sort of sweet that shows up with flowers for an ordinary date, or asks about competing “suitors.”

Angie, on the other hand, brings baggage of trust and commitment issues, as well as a sincere and prior attachment to her picturesque little town. Their attraction is evident. Angie’s life seems as familiar and ordinary as the fuzzy slippers she slips on at the end of the day, yet that doesn’t prevent Trent from fully developing her character. Small points of humor abound (just her worry about cooking alone is hysterical). Chris and Angie slowly develop a friendship, a business relationship, and we see it is headed for something more…but progress is slow. Events are plausible though. So is Angie’s dedication to her slippers and diet soda. However the smell of coconut suggests an exotic island getaway more than once, so that slippers, soda and coconut have evolved into the motif of this tale in my mind.

Dialogue is less believable in a few places. Point of view changes irritated, and the whole story is about as far from ‘fast paced’ as one can get. It is rather contemplative and thoughtful – as are the main characters. That’s not a complaint; this is far from the ordinary romance, but if you stick with it, the stories and characters are rewarding.

Trent explores the difference between real emotions, facades, and how someone might decide how to live and what to feel.

Secondary characters are very much there just to support the leads; some are especially sweet, more rather stereotypical (like the small town sheriff). Gossip – and concerns about gossip – plays quite a role here. It’s all part of life in a small town.

This story starts in a dark place to bring along a slow kind of heartwarming. Trent’s Falling in Love is full of promise, surprisingly full of mild surprises, and genuinely well-written, although it is far from the ‘light and fluffy' fare I thought I had selected. Engaging: 4 books.