I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
This was one of my freebie downloads from a couple years ago, although it looks like it's no longer free. It was better than I expected it to be, but I was not the right audience for it.
Roberta Jones Spivey is upset. Warren, her husband of fifteen years, has left her for Cookie, the high school sweetheart he never got over. Roberta is forty years old and has felt unloved and unattractive for years, and this is the last straw. She decides to remake herself as Bobbie, a sexy and adventurous redhead, follow Warren to the small town of Cottonmouth, California, and show him what he's missing.
Bobbie gets herself a job as a waitress, learns about the locals and their complicated relationships and histories, and flirts with both Nick, a supposed serial killer, and Brax, the sheriff. Everything's going great until she starts to wonder what it is she's really trying to accomplish. Then someone turns up murdered, and Bobbie, afraid that the wrong person will be blamed, starts asking everyone uncomfortable questions.
The writing was snappy, fun, and made me think of Janet Evanovich and some of my favorite Jennifer Crusie books. This would probably be a nice book for those tired of heroines who are in their twenties or early thirties. Bobbie was somewhat disappointing, at first, completely oblivious to the fact that, new hair color, job, and house aside, she hadn't yet managed to break free of Warren's influence. However, she did grow.
I really don't think I was the right audience for this book, though. There were things that made me grit my teeth. A couple examples:
“Things like this [getting hired as a waitress because customers like her butt] just didn’t happen in the city. Sexual harassment was a dirty word. A man wasn't allowed to look at a woman below the neck. A woman couldn't admit she wanted to be stared at like a sex object." (32)
“Warren never understood how sex made a woman feel...feminine. It was integral to the gender. Oh, she could hear all the naysayers, the feminists, the careerists. Bottom line was, sex with Nick had made her feel special again.” (181)
I don't consider “feminist” to be a bad word. Sexual harassment is a real thing. And I was uncomfortable with the way things like antidepressants and domestic violence were presented. It seemed like the only effect Warren's antidepressants had on him was to kill his sex drive (or at least that was the only effect Bobbie cared about), and, yes, Cookie was a snake, but I still didn't like Bobbie dismissing out of hand her claims that her husband was abusing her.
Beyond that, the pacing was odd. The murder, which I included in my description to keep the book from sounding like plain old small town women's fiction with a dash of romance, didn't happen until a little over halfway through. By that time, I had almost forgotten that the official description had mentioned a mystery element.
Things ended on a rosier note than was believable. Cottonmouth felt like it was dying. The local businesses couldn't afford to pay their employees more than minimum wage or give them benefits, couldn't buy new inventory until they sold the old, and wouldn't take credit cards. From the sounds of things, most of their customers were going to have to come from out of town, because hardly anyone in town could afford to buy from them on a regular basis. Bobbie pouring all her money into opening her own business there seemed like a massively bad idea.
All in all, this wasn't too bad. I'd have liked it more if it hadn't smacked me in the face so much with things that annoyed me.
(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)