November 27, 2012

Review: Til Grits Do Us Part by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

'Til Grits Do Us Part (Southern Fried Sushi #3)
'Til Grits Do Us Part (Southern Fried Sushi)

About the Book:

Engaged to the last man she'd ever thought possible, Shiloh Jacobs is making a go of small-town life in rural Staunton, Virginia-writing again, planning a wedding, and about to sell the house that will make her dreams come true.

But instead of pre-wedded bliss, Shiloh finds herself virtually alone in Redneckville with no family to help her, no money, and no time to plan a wedding. Especially a wedding to a man as different as Adam Carter. While covering an unsolved news case about a missing woman, things go from bad to worse for Shiloh-starting with mysterious rose bouquets and disturbing letters that link to her mother's past. The more Shiloh tries to put her mother's troubled history behind her, the more tangled in the case-and in the stalkers sights-Shiloh becomes.

Forced to face her past secrets while on the run from a madman, can Shiloh identify the stalker before he strikes again? And as one dream after another falls flat, can she and Adam put aside their differences before it's too late?

My thoughts:

It was a wonderful treat to get back to the hills of Virginia once again! Shiloh's new life is still requiring adjustment. Even after a year spent in the south, there is still much about these southern people and their food and habits that she has to learn. (While she may try (and sometimes enjoy) some southern foods now, she is still very fond of sushi.) Starting off with a bang, as Shiloh's friends try to introduce her to cow-tipping (which, needless to say, doesn't go so well), the pace rarely slows down! Poor Shiloh is like a magnet for crazy weirdos! And 'weirdo' is an understatement regarding the guy after her this time. Thank goodness for friends like Tim and Becky and of course Adam, her fiance. They help keep her sane and remind her where to keep her focus and Who is in control. But goodness, she does have a time of it! One of the things that make this entire series so fun is the relationships. That's a good part of Shiloh's journey from the first book until this one. First her relationship with her mother, and subsequently her relationships with her father and half-sister; and then her relationships with her new friends in Staunton. Really it's her new family in Staunton; Adam, Faye, Becky, Tim, Jerry and all the rest. These people have adopted her into their lives and they aren't letting her go. Which Shiloh is still not completely used to, so it's a little struggle to go from few real relationships in her life to lots and lots of people who care about her. Just a 'little' struggle mind you, she truly loves having these people in her life now.

And of course there's Kyoko, her last connection to her old life in Japan. I absolutely love Shiloh and Kyoko's friendship! They are so completely different, yet have a love and care for one another even while not understanding or agreeing with each others decisions all the time. Ms. Spinola did a great job in depicting their relationship. Just like friendships are in real life, where we tease and frustrate each other yet those are the ones we can call at the drop of a hat and know they'll answer immediately. These two American girls meet in Japan and become friends. Friends that cheer each other up and are just there for one another, no matter the distance in miles between them now. Kyoko is a connection to Japan, which Shiloh misses terribly, yet she is also a sounding board and a listening ear. Someone Shiloh can call any time night or day, and know she'll listen. Kyoko may give Shiloh a hard time about her new "redneck" ways (she may also send her some doozies as "care packages" to try to keep Shiloh from getting too southernized) and she may not understand Shiloh's new commitment to Christ either, but she helps plan the wedding as much as she can, she calls often and lets Shiloh know how much she cares, and is just overall an awesome friend. Kyoko is a wonderful character. (Although if I met her in real life, I imagine she'd take some getting used to! :D)

The other major relationship is, of course, Adam. They haven't known each other all that long, so they still have things to learn about one another. And some of them require some thought and communication. Luckily their communication skills have gotten better. They talk and try to understand each other. Alas they are human, so there's plenty of frustration and anger and hurt that has to get ironed out also. But that's what any relationship takes, communication and forgiveness and lots and lots of love. This is a fabulous series! A wonderful peek into life in the south where people are friendly and smiles and hugs are plentiful. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in rural Virginia and wouldn't mind if there were more stories Ms. Spinola would grace us with. (You know Tim and Becky are cooking up another "fun" initiation for Shiloh just so they can get another picture to share with everyone via text message! :) Read it, I'm certain you won't be disappointed!

A favorite passage:
"Becky fell unusually quiet as she smoothed Macy's overalls that had scrunched under her legs. A tender gesture probably nobody else had noticed. "I don't want to say this the wrong way, Shah-loh, but we're all gonna die."
"Of course we are." A drop of water fell from the end of the snapdragon stem. "But I prefer not to kill my flowers before their time."
"Well, cut er not cut, we're all goin'." Becky spoke so soberly that I turned my eyes to her. "Ain't no stoppin' it. You know that."
"Sure I do, but isn't it a waste? All that beautiful bloom for what-an hour?"
"Mebbe in some ways, but..." She gathered a handful of roses and freesia, delicately perfumed, and pressed them in my hands. "Ya gotta remember though-this was their purpose all along. And they did it to their fullest. It's their gift."
I felt strangely moved, standing there with shoppers laughing in the background. And me looking down at those beautiful doomed flowers in my hands, their glowing colors trembling with drops.
"But it's such a waste, Becky!"
"Or a sacrifice. Depends on how ya look at it. They lived and bloomed, jest like they were made to do. And when it was time to go, they gracefully said yes."
She ran her hands over the petals, which gleamed like bits of satin. "We're seein' their last magnificent moments and enjoyin' 'em. If you was a flower, wouldn't that make ya happy to know you'd done what you was born ta do? Even if ya didn't get to do it very long?"

*I was offered this book from the author and the publisher, Barbour Publishing, free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Toodle-loo kangaroos! Happy reading!

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