Just Fine With Caroline is Annie England Noblin's second novel.
Caroline has moved back home to Cold River, Missouri. Her family needs her help - her mom has Alzheimers, her dad is so busy (he's the town doctor) and her cousin Ava Dawn always seems to need a hand. And Caroline wants to keep her mom's beloved bait store open.
Life gets a little more complicated when Noah Cranwell returns to town to resurrect his family's store - directly across from the bait shack.
Noblin hits all the notes you would expect in a light hearted read - a slow building romance that hits more than one bump in the road, family issues, quirky supporting characters, conflicts that our main characters need to challenge - and secrets. Noblin also weaves some historical fact into her story that was quite fascinating.
Annie herself makes her home in the Missouri Ozarks and uses that first hand knowledge to create her town, residents and atmosphere. I have lived in more than one small town and Noblin's depiction is spot on. Everyone really does know you, your business and it's really hard to keep a secret in a small town.
I liked Caroline as a lead character - she's the solid, smart one that people tend to turn to. Ava Dawn is a foil for Caroline - she makes mistakes, bad choices and tends to live a wilder life. Noah as the yes, no, maybe so romantic lead was well drawn - and attractive. The rest of the supporting players round out the cast. High school hero also back in town, good guy sheriff with his own secrets, lovable town drunk etc.
There's usually not much you can't figure out ahead of time in 'heartwarming small town' types of reads. And yes, this proved true for Just Fine With Caroline for me. But that's the appeal of them - you know everything is going to turn out okay in the end.
This is the first book in Annie's new Cold River series. I can see a wealth characters just waiting to be met and and for their stories to be told. Read an excerpt of Just Fine With Caroline.
My only quibble is that those quirky characters, dialogue and situations just try a bit too hard and are a bit over exaggerated. But on the other hand, this suits this style of novel. A sweet little read, meant to be enjoyed with a tall glass of sweet tea. Read an excerpt of Just Fine With Caroline.
"Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs." You can connect with Annie on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.
I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.