Monday, June 2, 2014
'The Road to Testament' by Eva Marie Everson
Ashlynne Rothschild grew up with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth. Smart and sassy, Ashlynne expects to inherit the "Park Avenues" magazine empire. But her family has other ideas. Feeling she needs to understand the world beyond, they ship her off to Testament, North Carolina, for a little learning about life." William Decker grew up in a small town with dreams of big-city success. But when the spoiled Ashlynne falls under his authority, her big city ways aren t so appealing. Ashlynne s attempt at learn normal ends with a wounded spirit, while William's reach for the stars attitude ends with a wounded heart. When these two journalists go head to head, the race is on to see if either will succeed in getting what they really want.
Ashlynne is prodded out of her comfort zone and sent to work on a country town newspaper to develop some 'people' skills her grandma thinks she may be lacking. She accepts the challenge, although William Decker, the grandson of her grandma's old partners, is almost more than she can handle.
From the blurb, I'd half expected Ashlynne to be a stereotyped entitled princess type of character who looks down her nose at everyone and needs to be taken down a peg or two during the story. Was I wrong! I was really pleased to find that she was never stuck up at all. Rather than considering herself superior, she had her fair share of deep insecurities and scars from her past, and certainly didn't think of herself as better than anyone else.
It turns out the hero, Will, had the same expectations as my initial ones based on first impressions, but his were all wound up with personal reasons from his own unhappy past. Not having the benefit of seeing things from her point of view, it took longer to convince him of his mistake. And of course, his coming to see the light is part of the fun of this story.
What a character she was, proving that we all have own brands of knowledge gleaned from our unique experiences, and shouldn't judge each other for it. She can identity the brand of Will's aftershave from a whiff as he walks past, and she knows exactly what to do with her napkin on a silver service table and how to apply expensive make-up. Yet she doesn't know enough to take her pile of dirty clothes to a laundromat, and it took her awhile to figure out that her pork dish came from a pig.
I think reading about a woman like Ashlynne is good for those of us who need to see that we may all be pretty similar deep down, where it counts. She over thinks, sometimes tries too hard to fit in, and goes through every email for impression management before sending it. I can relate to all that, although I consider myself nothing like her in most particulars. And best of all, the girl has a quick wit.
A highlight for me was every scene between Ashlynne and Will. Their dialogue is everything a romance novel should have. They start off trying to be civil to each other, then gradually warm up without wanting to admit it. They mask their flirting with semi-hostile attitudes, both knowing very well that the chemistry is there. It almost sizzles through the pages at times.
The other highlight was the serious nature of the themes. Both characters find themselves in situations where their moral fibre is tested, when the right thing to do isn't the easiest or that which will win them most friends. Even in the twenty-first century, acts of extreme courage are called for.
I received a copy from Net Galley and Abingdon Press in return for an honest review.
The Road to Testament available from Amazon