Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Avon on 25 June 2013
The blurb may state that “love is anything but predictable” but the relationship between Reno Wilder and Charlotte “Charli” Brooks is. We have a typical surly male who resists change and a bubbly, perky woman who is going to bring sparkle into his life. The thing is though that Terry’s characters rise above the usual shtick. Charli is the host of a TV makeover show and she breezes into Sweet, Texas determined to shake things up a bit. Rather than making over people or houses, her show makes over towns to help them improve their tourist dollars. Reno on the other hand is equally determined not to let her mess with either his town or his hardware shop. They butt heads from the moment her dog pees on him and sparks continue to fly during the renovations.
Reno is rude, dismissive and at times antagonistic. He is firmly in the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ camp. Part of this stems from fear that he would lose the ones he loved. He was abandoned by his birth mother and then adopted by his uncle and aunt. Reno’s adopted father, adopted brother and fiancé all died within a short space of time and he unconsciously uses physical things to help anchor his memories because without them he would feel adrift. Charli knows very little of this however and sees him as just another Luddite, albeit a hot one. She hasn’t exactly had a great upbringing as her father carted her from one set of barracks to another. Renovating places helps her leave her stamp on a place and belong somewhere, for a short time at least. Watching the two fall in love was a bit like viewing a complicated dance with both ‘dancers’ trying to lead – two steps forward, one step back and lots of fancy manoeuvring. The biggest let down would have to be the denouement which was very corny.
There is a very strong pro-US military theme that runs through this novel. Reno and all of his brothers were in the military, as was Charli’s father. Other minor characters have also served. Characters repeatedly call these men heroes and champion their commitment so I was surprised that Terry didn’t gloss over the sacrifices. Reno’s eldest brother died in Afghanistan and one of the other men suffers PTSD. I enjoyed this dash of realism.
Anything But Sweet is great read that only gets a bit too saccharine for my liking at the end.