Author: Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt & Denise Hunter
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Christian Fiction/Romance
Size: Paperback, 403 pages
Release Date: December 2011
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone (Though I heard rumor of a follow up: Secretly Smitten)
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
First Line: "Natalie Mansfield’s heart swelled as she stood anon the perimeter of the town square and watched her niece and the other children decorate the town for Easter."
Summary (from Amazon):Welcome to Smitten, Vermont.
With the help of four friends, it's about to become the most romantic town in America.
The proposed closing of the lumber mill comes as unwelcome news for the citizens of Smitten. How will the town survive without its main employer? A close-knit group of women think they've got just the plan to save Smitten. They'll capitalize on its name and turn it into a tourist destination for lovers-complete with sweet shops, a high-end spa, romantic music on the square, and cabins outfitted with fireplaces and hot tubs.
But is this manly town ready for an influx of romantically-minded guests?
Country music sensation Sawyer Smitten, the town's hometown hero, wants to help by holding his own wedding there on Valentine's Day. And little Mia's lavender wreaths hang all over town as a reminder that faith can work miracles. Along the way, four women spearheading the town's transformation-energetic Natalie, sophisticated Julia, graceful Shelby, and athletic Reese-get in the spirit by reviving their own love lives.
Join best-selling inspirational romance authors (and real-life BFFs) Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for an inspiring stay at the (soon-to-be) most romantic town on the eastern seaboard.
One visit . . . and you'll be smitten too.
What I Loved:
That cover--it is to die for! The colors, the artistry with the little images like the ring hidden in the pattern and the sleeping New England own with the windows lit from within! Love, love, love it! It was honestly the first thing that attracted my attention to this book and from there I was determined to read and review it!
The setting and characters--A small town in New England where every one knows and cares about their neighbors! It's the type of place that I would want to live! Natalie, Julia, Shelby & Reese are all immensely likable characters each with their own unique quirks which adds dimension to the book.
The premise--Four friends determined to work together with each other and the town to save it from going under when it's main economy (the saw mill) closes. The idea of making this small town into a quaint romantic destination is perfect!
What Disappointed Me:
The romances--I felt like all four of the stories were almost the same but for a few tweaks. Girl and guy are friends but then realize that their feelings for each other have grown and are afraid to lose their friendships by admitting their feeling.
The dialogue--For most of the book the dialogue felt stilted and unreal. I honestly could not see these conversations happening in real life.
The revitalization--I would have loved to hear more than just a passing mention about the actual changes that were happening in the town. More description of the new businesses and the sprucing up of the town square etc. would have added some much needed depth to the story.
The Christian aspect--I knew picking this book up that it was Christian fiction and I've read and enjoyed numerous Christian books in the past. This one however just felt a little too forced for my taste. Almost every third paragraph had some reference to God, prayer, faith etc. I understand that the idea that the faith of the town was key to the success of the revitalization, however I felt it a bit implausible that every single character we met was a devout Christian who not only practiced his/her faith fervently but also verbalized it multiple times in every conversation held.
In general, I feel that the premise of this book was great and the writing and characters wonderful. I did enjoy the read, however at the end I was left feeling disappointed. I felt that, though entertaining, the book lacked the depth and life for which I was hoping.