Saturday, 6 July 2013

Book Review: "Trouble in Store" by Carol Cox

Fired from her most recent governess position, Melanie Ross must embrace her last resort: the Arizona mercantile she inherited from her cousin. But Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile, and he's not about to let some obstinate woman with newfangled ideas mess up all he's worked for. He's determined to get Melanie married off as soon as possible, and luckily there are plenty of single men in town quite interested in taking her off his hands.

The problem is, Caleb soon realizes he doesn't want her to marry up with any of them. He's drawn to Melanie more every day, and he has to admit some of her ideas for the store unexpectedly offer positive results.

But someone doesn't want the store to succeed, and what used to be just threatening words has escalated into deliberate destruction and lurkers in the night. When a body shows up on the mercantile steps--and the man obviously didn't die from natural causes--things really get dangerous. Can Melanie and Caleb's business--and romance--survive the trouble that's about to come their way?

--image and description from Goodreads.com

Trouble in Store by Carol Cox was an interesting read. Right off the bat, I sympathized with Melanie and her difficult situation. She was a likeable heroine and the ending where she faced the villain was enthralling and frightening. However, I did not connect to her as much as I wanted to. 

Caleb didn't seem to have as much personality, other than being rude to Melanie, missing his wife, and loving his son--all of which has been used before, countless times. There was nothing particularly fresh or original about him to draw me to him.

A few other things about how the mystery was resolved didn't quite make sense to me. I couldn't understand why a murderer would bother leaving threatening notes in the mercantile when someone they could have killed slept upstairs. Melanie was vulnerable this entire time, but the villain did not make a move until the end of the novel, which made no sense to me, criminal-wise.

What was refreshing to me was that the romance was not constantly dwelt on. In fact, Melanie had one other suitor whom I actually think I liked more than Caleb, and whom I hope gets his own story one day. I felt he was pushed to the side too quickly. The reverse side to not talking much about the romance was that when Caleb and Melanie go from arguing to loving each other, the shift seems too abrupt. While I understand and appreciate the author's attempt to make it natural, growing from 'enemies' to friends to romantically-involved, it still jolted me when Caleb described Melanie as "the woman he loved" when perhaps a month or so earlier he'd still been grumbling about all the changes she was making to the mercantile. I wanted some more time for their relationship to grow.

As well, at times Melanie was completely clueless, asking questions about the obvious. One instance she and Caleb were discussing how the intruder could have gotten into the mercantile and find a window which had been tampered with by a knife. And Melanie asked what it meant. I had to shake my head in disbelief, because it seemed pretty obvious to me.

There were a lot of typos in the version I read, which threw me off quite a bit. That's something the editor should have caught, but it still hampered my overall enjoyment.

However, this book was a clean, fun mix of romance, murder-mystery, and a sprinkling of the Wild West. The only way to know if you'd enjoy it is to check it out and decide for yourself. :)

3 stars!



I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity!