The Sweethearts' Knitting Club
by Lori Wilde, contemporary (2009)
Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-180889-0

Lori Wilde may be dishing out comparatively hot stuff in her Harlequin Blaze offerings but her full-length contemporary romances have been slowly shifting direction toward small town homespun type of stories that you would come to expect from Robyn Carr, Kathleen Eagle, or Pamela Morsi. The Sweethearts' Knitting Club, her debut effort with Avon, is another step in that direction, so you may want to adjust your expectations accordingly.

Ten years ago, Flynn MacGregor, the good girl, and Jesse Calloway, the bad boy, had a thing that didn't really go that far. It's hard to have a shotgun wedding and be divorced by 22 when the guy got arrested for possessing cocaine with the intention to sell, after all. Jesse spent the last ten years in the slammer while Flynn continued doing everything to please the people around her while secretly sighing inside for Jesse. When the story opens, Jesse is out of jail and he returns to the town of Twilight, mostly because he still harbors a dream of being married to Flynn and all. Aww, isn't he sweet? However, Flynn is engaged to marry Beau Trainer, the current sheriff whom Jesse has pegged as the scumbag who set him up ten years ago. Meanwhile, clearly someone doesn't want Jesse back in town as sinister things begin to happen and Jesse gets blamed for them.

The problem with this book is that it is so, so, so predictable. The characters are stereotypes, the plot is predictable, and I spend the whole time reading this book on autopilot mode. It is hard to be enthusiastic about a story that contains so many elements that I have come across many, many times before, especially when such elements are added in without the author doing much to differentiate them and make them stand out from the pack. As I reach closer to the last page, I find myself wishing that the author would introduce a twist, any twist, even a UFO showing up, to make things less predictable, but alas, the story follows the script completely right down to the last word.

Matters also do not improve when Flynn is such a drab. She is a passive doormat here. Apparently she spent the last ten years trying to make her late mother's dream come true - opening some knitting material store - and being too concerned about what people around her think of her, which is quite pathetic if I think of it. Didn't she have any ambitions or dreams of her own? In this story, she just lets Beau pull her in various directions even as she strings Jesse along for so long that I start to think of poor Jesse as a completely whipped fellow, the doormat of the town doormat. What a sad sucker.

But as I've said, the biggest problems of this otherwise well-written story are its utter predictability and the presence of stereotypical characters presented in a most drab and uninspired manner. The Sweethearts' Knitting Club is so dull, it's a relief when I finally reach the last page.

Rating: 65

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