Friday, August 12, 2011

Becka's Song by Frankie J. Jones

Publisher:                 Bella Books

Christmas, Arkansas, has a unique custom. Starting the last Saturday in September and ending at New Year’s, the entire town converts itself into a Victorian version of a village, including everyone wearing period costumes. Tourists come for miles to shop there and the proceeds support the town for the rest of the winter. Lee Dresher fell in love with the place during a visit years before and opened an art gallery to display her work and that of other artists from the area. She loves her life, with a daughter in college and an ex-husband she never hears from plus freedom to roam the countryside getting inspiration for her painting, but suddenly things seem to be going wrong. 

Her daughter wants to come home for Thanksgiving and bring her father. If that weren’t upsetting enough, Lee’s parents want to come, too, and she’s not sure she’s up to that type of family reunion. Someone is shooting animals in the woods for no apparent reason, which may cut Lee off from her walks, and then there’s the new woman in town, Becka James. She seems to be everywhere and related to half of the people, but there’s a secret about her that no one is sharing. Lee finds her more than attractive and interesting, but she’s not sure if Becka returns the feelings. Lee has been hurt before and she doesn’t want to risk disrupting her life for someone who isn’t interested in her. 

It takes someone shooting at them at Lee’s house to convince both women to acknowledge what is going on between them. Becka won’t share her secret though and Lee begins to believe that there isn’t any chance for them at all. Things will come to a head at what has to qualify as the family reunion from Hell.

Frankie Jones has been published for more than a decade and, unlike some writers, has not allowed her writing to stagnate into the same old style. She continues to improve on her ability to tell a story. Her character development and use of language are much advanced from her early books and she’s added a flair for writing comedic scenes. Early in the book, when Lee and Becka are just getting to know each other, the women are negotiating a dinner in exchange for breakfast. This is the conversation:

“Can you cook?”

“Not really, but I’ve never poisoned anyone, although now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever fed the same person twice.”
“That doesn’t say much for either your culinary skills or your relationship skills.”
Lee shrugged, “I’ve never claimed to be good at either one.”
“Then I don’t feel so bad about feeding you a slightly stale doughnut.”

Becka’s Song is full of natural unforced scenes and dialogue like that. While it is a romance, there’s also an air of suspense that hangs over the book as the town tries to solve who has brought killing into their community. All of it ties together very neatly and makes the book very entertaining to read.

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