Lucy Rye is on the cusp of the big 4-0 and living on the lam. She flees the big city in her loaded Jeep Cherokee in an effort to hide from her main squeeze, Daniel – a colleague with a wife and children – and leaves behind an otherwise cushy life that includes a nice condo and a lucrative career in the insurance business. Tired and desperate, she shows up in the small town of Lemon Creek where she inquires about openings at a run-down insurance agency. When the owner, Frank Corelli, explains that his business is just a father-son operation in no need of hired help, Lucy crumbles and offers up a confession with a few tears: She is aging, unmarried and pregnant – and that’s all the soft-hearted Frank needs to know to offer her a job.
It all seems a bit too good to be true, and that’s a feeling that builds as Lucy establishes a new life in small town America. She quickly finds furnished, affordable housing, makes fast friends at the local bar where she hangs out and sips club soda, and, despite her growing pregnancy, snags the town’s wealthy hunk, James Lee Colton, without any effort. Before you know it, she’s being introduced to his prominent family, who don’t seem all that fazed that she’s shown up with a bun in the oven and a good 10-plus years on their son, age-wise. Fat chance? Well, not in Lemon Creek.
There are a couple of hurdles Lucy has to maneuver, though. Frank Corelli’s son and partner, Frank Jr., is about the only person in town who doesn’t warm up to Lucy, but the trouble he causes is so mild that there is little build-up of tension. And then there’s the little matter of Daniel, who eventually makes his way to Lemon Creek. From there, the story really spirals out of reality, especially where Lucy and the men who love her are concerned. Navigating relationships with disgruntled co-workers, boyfriends, exes, babies and best friends should somehow be trickier and nastier than what’s portrayed in this story.
Though the characters could use a lot more development, and the reader may expect the main character to be a sympathetic one, it’s hard to warm up to Lucy, who has a penchant for pouting. With a personality that waivers between flippant and whiny, she often seems too girlish for her age. A lack of character development is to blame; the author never plumbs the depths of Lucy’s psyche deeply enough for the reader to get a good grip on her inner struggles. She comes across as a person who shows little concern for social mores, flaunting the more questionable aspects of her private life as if they were everyone’s business. But you’ve got to give her credit: It takes a lot of gumption to pack up and start a new life with a baby on the way and no support system in place.
The author attempts to weave in some Lemon Creek history and tie it to the love story of Lucy and James Lee, but the connection is awkward at best. Another blunder occurs in chapter three, when the author backs up the story by two weeks to the day Lucy leaves the big city. This info would not be so jarring to the flow of the story if presented chronologically.
LIFE IN LEMON CREEK has all the elements appreciated by lovers of light romance: powerful, handsome men, gutsy women, love, angst, wit and revelation all unfurled against the backdrop of a pleasant, one-stop-light town.
Reviewed by Libby Swope Wiersema for IndieReader.