Publisher: Katharine Gilliam Regnery
Publication Dates: August 5, 2016 and October 21, 2016
I always approach romance book series with a lot of trepidation because I’ve felt very let down in the past. Some say that they are standalones and to a limited degree they are until masses of characters from previous novels pop up who really don’t have any need to be there except that the author feels that they are being kind to the reader by allowing them to revisit. And, I think there are many readers who love this. I don’t particularly. Unless the characters are intrinsic to the story, I kind of just want to concentrate on the characters I’m reading about. Then, self-published? Shudder.
So you might ask why exactly I volunteered to read the first two novels in The Rousseau series. Look at what’s on the cover of Marry Me Mad! A piano! How could I not? How on earth could I turn down the opportunity to read a book with music in it? I can’t!
I was very pleased when the publicist offered me the first book in the series to read before Marry Me Mad. At least I wouldn’t be floundering.
Which leads me to this: read these books and read them in order and one right after the other. Why? Because these are like milk and cookies or mashed potatoes and gravy or peanut butter and chocolate. One is fine but both together, yum.
The novels occur during the same time period so there are over-lapping events that you won’t notice until you start reading Marry Me Mad.
In Jonquils for Jax, Jax Rousseau, a now famous movie producer after making a remake of The Philadelphia Story, has fled her home in Los Angeles to return not only for her brother’s wedding, but to stay in her beloved house, Chateau Novelle, that her mother, who is returning to France, wants desperately to be rid of. Jax is hurrying away from the reception, followed by the drunken, annoying, handsy Tripp when she stumbles into a man at the English estate. Gardner just happens to be the new gardener. He has secrets that he is slow to share.
Neither Jax with her tendency to say and ask exactly what’s on her mind nor Gardner are typical romance characters. They are like a refreshing blast of autumn air. Jax doesn’t hesitate to say how amusing it is to discover that the gardener’s name is Gardner and Gardner doesn’t hesitate to say that he feels like he could be falling for Jax. Yes! There are lots of secrets and layers revealed over the passage of the novel. And in it, you’re introduced to Mad, Jax’ twin sister.
At the beginning of Marry Me Mad, Mad Rousseau calls her pseudo-fiance, Thatcher, (there’s been no exchanging of a ring) of three years while he’s at a conference to share the news that she just received a tremendous promotion. Instead of Thatcher, a woman answers and Mad is once again faced with the fact that Thatcher has been cheating on her, not for the first time. Upset, she leaves the library where she works and starts walking, hears some beautiful music and ends up in a dive bar where she order four shots of tequila (evidently she’s never heard 1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor). Playing the piano is Cortland Ambler, the free-spirited boy from next-door.
Now, I adored Gardner in Jonquils for Jax, but Cort Ambler is supreme (yeah, and maybe it’s because he’s spiritual and sweet and…okay…a musician). He’s a nice guy who did a very stupid thing when he was a teenager, involving Mad’s twin, Jax, and now it’s come to bite him in the butt. He’s always loved Mad.
These two novels together just made me happy. I read them one after the other and if I had had the third book in the series, you probably wouldn’t yet be reading this review. I’d still be reading!
Regnery breaks some so-called rules here, but it works. I liked reading the two novels with their contemporaneous action.
Also, the characters were delightfully different. Mad might be a quiet librarian and kind-hearted, but she curses a blue streak and is loyal almost to a fault. Jax is pushy and friendly and funny. Gardner is tough, but vulnerable, protective and giving. And, Cort is sexy and poetic and…a musician.
Lastly Regnery is one of the several authors I’ve come across lately who is making this whole self-published thing work for them. It’s great. They are writing some cool fiction, breaking rules, throwing mind-numbing prose aside for sizzle, and introducing characters who seem real enough that the decisions they make are believable.
If you’re looking for fun, sexy, sweet, different romances, try these out.
I received ARCs of both novels in exchange for an honest review from Tasty Book Tours.