This post may contain affiliate links or I may be reviewing a book that I have received for free as part of a review program or as an advanced reader copy. That being said, all opinions are my own. The book cover, author photo, author biography, and plot summary for Wallflower Blooming are courtesy of amyrivers.com.
Facebook groups are absolutely great! There was a social media thread that I was participating in when I received a message from a lady saying she had some romance books she’d loved to have reviewed. Me, being the savvy blogger that I am, recognized the potential relationship in reviewing her books, so I told her to send them over. She was kind enough to ship two paperback books by Amy Rivers (this woman was a helper of Rivers’s) all the way over the Scotland. I hope you enjoy Wallflower Blooming by the one and only Amy Rivers!
Wallflower Blooming in 85 Characters or Less
Businessman and campaign PR manager find love over political interests
Full Plot Summary
Val Shakely is a list-maker. Daily routine. Check. Calm, quiet (but successful) business. Check. No drama. No excitement. Some might call it boring, but it’s precisely the way Val likes it. She loves her hometown of Cambria, nestled in the mountains of Colorado, and runs a fruitful PR firm. It’s more than enough for Val. So what if she doesn’t have a social life? Then, her cousin Gwen decides to take on the local political bully, Mayor Roger Barton, in head-to-head combat for his position, and Val takes her company reluctantly, and against her better judgment, into the fray. The minute Val takes on Gwen’s campaign, the safe world she carefully constructed begins to unravel. She feels the pressure of the campaign and the personal attacks by Barton. And as if that wasn’t complicated enough, Val finds herself falling in love with local businessman John Hatfield, a man just as boring as her at first glance. Both charming and confrontational, Val is drawn to John in a way that cracks the simplicity of her life. In the end, Val’s desire to stay on the sidelines is put to the test and she’s forced to reexamine the life she’s built as she trudges toward a new and more exciting future.
Cute Little Story
I’m not going to lie, I was a bit worried when I saw the cover, book size, and font size of Wallflower Blooming. Yes, I know, that’s judging a book by it’s cover at its finest, but I couldn’t help myself. All of the above were simply large and the novel itself was relatively short. That all being said, it was great to have a physical book in my hands after reading off of a Kindle for so long, so I opened the cover and kept turning the pages.
What I found as I went along was a nice, cute little story. There weren’t emotional moments that got me crying with the characters. There weren’t moments where I cracked up at something silly the characters had said or done. There weren’t even moments that I got a little squirmy at the heat between John and Val. Their romance and their lives were simple, quaint, and well…cute. I think it’ll depend on the reader whether this is a good thing or not, but for me, it was mediocre. It was a tad hard to stay emotionally invested in Wallflower Blooming.
So Much Description… SO MUCH Description
In one of my first reviews, All I Want Is You, I noted that Todd used so much dialogue in her novel that it was hard to get a good feel of how the characters were thinking and feeling. Now, we hit the opposite end of the spectrum with Wallflower Blooming. The vast majority of this novel was not dialogue, which meant that it was hard for me to see how the characters were really interacting with one another.
There’s a delicate balance that must be struck between dialogue and prose (is that the word I’m looking for?), and I can imagine that it’d be both a difficult one to find and a balance whose success depends entirely on the reader. Rivers, though, with her extensive and sometimes repetitive prose and unnecessarily lofty vocabulary, was off-balance for me.
The Characters Overreacted…Sort Of
I said above that there weren’t tons of emotionally connectable moments. And, like, yeah. Sort of. There were a fair amount of emotional moments, for sure. Val had a break down or two under her belt, John had his freak out over his business, and the two of them had tons of awkward flirting moments. As a reader, you could understand in a very basic and biological sense where those emotions stemmed from, but the level of stem and emotional leaf were not equivalent in the slightest.
For an example, we know through reading about Val’s thoughts that her father died and that it made her sad. Even John picked up on the fact that it probably hurt her more than he originally guessed. Then, all of a sudden, she’s bawling her eyes out in Gwen’s arms about how her father’s death has made her so scared for her business and relationship life that she’s pushing John away irrationally and stressing to the max. I, personally, was a bit stunned because I did not see that level of emotion coming at all. Of course, somewhat irrational characters make for the best novels sometimes, but when their emotions hit me entirely out of the blue, I feel a bit lost.
Unique Plot Line
I think the biggest thing that Wallflower Blooming had going for it was the fact that I’ve never read it before. Well, obviously, I’ve never read this book before, but I’ve never read anything like it either. I bet all of you can name five to ten books with a billionaire bad boy and a not-billionaire lovely or a high school sports jock and a relative geek. I’m not saying that all of those books aren’t amazing in their own right (goodness knows I love me some of the first example), but after reading so many of them, the plot can become somewhat predictable.
I’ve only come across one other book with a reclusive business owner who falls in love with another business owner (go read my review of Next To You to find out more!), but the characters and their issues were so vastly different that I don’t consider it a similar book. Therefore this book was interesting because I had no idea where it was going and no way to predict it, either. I’d love to hear your opinion on this, too: do you prefer plot lines so unique to other books you’ve read or do you prefer to stick with variations of the same plot?
Where to Buy
Amy Rivers is a Colorado based writer of general fiction, personal essays and perspective.
Amy was born and raised in Southern New Mexico. After completing her bachelor’s degree in the central part of Washington State, she moved with her husband to the Seattle area where she spent several years with the U.S Passport Agency and then became co-owner of an Internet marketing business. Over the years, her marketing interests turned largely toward the promotion of non-profits. She returned to her hometown in 2008 and continued in marketing until an opportunity arose to manage a program providing services to sexual assault victims.
Amy has volunteered for a number of organizations, beginning with marketing work for the Seattle Red Cross and including the Otero County Community Health Council, the Southern New Mexico Wellness Alliance and the Friends of the Alamogordo Public Library. She co-organized a discussion group for adolescent girls called Start the Dialogue, which fostered open and honest communication on a wide variety of topics in a safe and nurturing environment. In 2010, she co-founded the Alamogordo Speakers Series, which brought renowned authors Michael McGarrity, Hampton Sides and Denise Chaves (among others) to the stage in Alamogordo, NM. The series, which ran for three years, showcased the cultural and literary history of the New Mexico region.
In the summer of 2014, Amy and her family relocated to Boulder, Colorado. She earned a Master’s degree with concentrations in Psychology and Political Science and began work on her first novel. Looking to continue encouraging open dialogue in the community, she created the website AmyAnswers.com, a safe, non-judgmental place to ask questions that might not otherwise get asked. She also began work on her first novel Wallflower Blooming which was released by Wooden Pants Publishing in August 2016. She is an active member of the Northern Colorado Writers, the Colorado Authors’ League, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She also belongs to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.