Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Bluebonnet Battle by Carolyn Brown
Published by Montlake Romance on March 8, 2022
Genres: Contemporary Romance
In Bonnet, Texas, Liddy Latham, the queen of funeral dinners, keeps a southern comfort-food tradition alive—until fancy-schmancy Matilda Monroe moves back to town. She wants room at the table for her own style of consolation and closure: healthy, modern, and vegan. But this is about more than fried chicken versus tofu turkey. Matilda’s return is also stirring up their volatile, unresolved history. And just when they thought it couldn’t get more personal…
Matilda’s son, Nick, and Liddy’s niece, Amelia, have met and the sparks are flying. For Matilda and Liddy, their precious kin’s romance is their worst nightmare. Now, it’s all Nick and Amelia can do to survive a family feud that has the whole town talking.
The battle for the funeral dinner crown is on. As two strong-willed women wrestle for control, making peace with the past may be the only way to serve the star-crossed lovers a happy ending.
Let’s get ready to rumble small-town country style! When Liddy Latham learns her hated enemy is coming back to her town, she’s ready to fight Mathilda Monroe with all she has and the whole town is either taking sides or settling their lawn chairs in for front row seats. With such goings on, what are the chances for their survival when Liddy’s niece and Mathilda’s son feel quite the opposite of enemies when they meet over the dessert table at the latest town funeral? I got comfy and settled in to find out.
The Bluebonnet Battle is quintessential Carolyn Brown. Down home cooking, feuding chicanery, family loving, and a healthy helping of sweet small town romance served up with a generous slice of Libby’s lemon pie. Libby is the spirited head of her family and she is one strong woman going through losses that would take the heart out of most people and the person she blames for the most difficult loss is now strutting in her designer heels and threatening to break up all Libby’s peace.
I enjoyed that there is a little mystery at first as the reader is left wondering about the back history between Libby and Mathilda and between Mathilda and her brother who is nothing like her. Mathilda is a real piece of work and doesn’t seem to come with one redeeming quality. It’s not hard to take Libby’s side and cheer her on to block Mathilda’s antics. Later in the book, some nuances are introduced to explain (not resolve) Mathilda’s behavior. And, Libby isn’t without her need to work through her own pain so she doesn’t end up hurting Amelia who has fallen for good-hearted Nick Monroe. Nick is nothing like his mother, but at first, some aren’t sure, so he has to work a little harder to win the town’s respect and especially Libby and her family.
There are several moments of fun antics, but also the slower-paced everyday life events as friends and family get together. There are lag moments, but nothing too distracting. The focus of this book being on funerals much of the time because Libby has the role of funeral supper organizer in the small down, but the tone isn’t sad. Libby and her friends have an important role because they help with that time of deep grief and loss by providing the comfort of food and the memories that come with talking about food. I thought this was a poignant element in the story.
Family is huge, so there is the warmth and closeness of Libby and her Taylor family juxtaposed with Nick feeling the difference between them and his mom’s antagonistic and narcissistic approach. Nick was lucky to have his dad even after his dad divorced his mom and moved on and he was particularly close to his mom’s brother who taught him to be the man Amelia could respect and fall for. Their romance is cute the way they have to sneak it and also sweet because they learn to fall in love even with great opposition and past history with bad relationships. I liked how the romance blended nicely with the women’s fiction aspect of the story.
All in all, it was a relaxing, engaging read that had me laughing and sighing in turn. Definitely another good one from Carolyn Brown that I can recommend to new fans who like country-charmers with lots of small town, family, and romance.
There is a warmth to her books that I always enjoy. Nice review, Sophia!
Yes, her country sunshine raises my spirits. 🙂
I haven’t read this author in a while but this sounds like a really good read.
Oh yes, so comfy and relaxing with some smiles. 🙂
This does sound like classic Carolyn Brown! Some of her newer books have been missing some of the sass and fun I love about her writing, but this one sounds like it would make me laugh. I need to request the audio. Fab review, Sophia! 🙂
Yes, this one combines the sass and antics with the serious. Yes, her narrators make the audios the best way to go. 🙂
Thanks so much, Rachel!
I really need to get around to reading Carolyn Brown’s books! This is another one that just sounds really good.
They are light and fun with family and country charm. 🙂
I always enjoy this author. I am glad to see you enjoyed this one Sophia.
Her books are a treat. 🙂
Carolyn Brown is the best author to just relax with reading. The atmosphere of her writing is so wonderful.
I completely agree, Renee!