Magnolia Moon
by JoAnn Ross, contemporary (2003)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-5743-9

JoAnn Ross' Magnolia Moon is a middling, pleasant, and ultimately forgettable story of Why You Should Always Love Kids and Them Smalltown Livin' and Lovin' Are The Best themes. Her characters are better than most of the derivative cardboard characters that usually pepper these kinds of books, but the familiar plot takes away a lot of the charm.

Nate Callahan is the womanizing mayor - gee, Ms Ross, what will the Republicans think? - while Regan Hart is a hardened cop from LA. Their paths cross when she needs his help in finding her family roots in this lovely Blue Bayou town. After all, isn't this what books like this is all about? A woman looking for family in a small town? What about a kid? All stories like this need a kid. And voila, there you go: Nate finds a troubled teen Josh to play surrogate daddy to. In the end, busybody secondary characters, that Kid Thing, and that Momma Thing, and every other Thing that is typical in smalltown stories stop Regan from ever leaving Blue Bayou. She's one of Them now.

Nate is a nice and likeable hero, generous with the charm without coming off as slimy or slick, while Regan is pretty good as the intelligent and strong type. These two have a nice chemistry going. It's just too bad that the secondary cast and the entire story are predictable, uninteresting same-old, same-old that are more tired than exciting. Reading Magnolia Moon is a pleasant experience - that kind of pleasant that lulls me to close my eyes and drift off into a really nice nap. It's the kind of the book that has me thinking that hey, it's not bad, but at the same time, there are probably twenty more exciting things I could have done with my time instead of reading it.

Rating: 75

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