Summary: Someone wants Mandy dead...
Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district--until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in the Pacific Northwest timber country. She's determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds. (Summary from back of the book, book given free for review and image from http://marytrimble.blogspot.com/)
My Review: When I finished this book, I set it aside for nearly a week before writing my review. Even though I read it quickly and had a vested interest in both the setting and the subject matter, I was afraid if I reviewed it too soon after reading I might not give it a fair rating. I had to let things sit a while.
There were several aspects of the story that I enjoyed. The beginning chapters caught my attention right away, and although the next few started to wane, it picked right back up and I finished much quicker than I'd expected. I loved the setting of the backwoods Pacific Northwest. The author's depiction of the community is quite believable -- the clothing, weather, relaxed attitudes, innumerable family connections, the secrets and information people just expect you to somehow know because everyone else knows -- spot on really, especially if you've ever spent time in the Pacific Northwest. As a teacher, my interest was piqued by the issues of how state and national regulations are putting pressure on everyone, small districts included, and how it is being addressed. Not that it went into too much detail here, but it kept the storyline running.
I had three main qualms about this story. First, I figured out what was going on early on -- before I was even halfway through the book. Second, the romance wasn't that believable. After all, how can you really develop a relationship without interaction? And finally, the writing wasn't bad, but it also wasn't amazing.
Despite my reservations about the story, I was surprised that I left this book still thinking about the characters. I didn't realize I'd become that vested in Mandy until I closed the book, but was happy to know she'd found a place on my imaginary list of 'book friends.'
My Rating: 3.75 stars
For the sensitive reader: Nothing here but a few benign kisses. Read freely.
Sum it up: A somewhat predictable mystery, but enjoyable nonetheless.