Almost Heaven by Susan X Meagher

I found out yesterday morning, via the emailed newsletter from Brisk Press, that Susan has a couple of new books out. One is the latest in the San Fran series, Monogamy, and one is a new stand alone novel called Almost Heaven. One of my favorite books, All That Matters, is by Meagher and I got a strange feeling in my gut when I saw the cover of Almost Heaven.

I briefly skimmed the blurb, and I do mean briefly. I don’t remember what it said but I felt like I needed to buy this book. I do tend to be impulsive sometimes but figured even a not-fantastic Meagher book is still not a bad book so I felt ok with my purchasing choice.

In a nutshell, here’s what the book is about… Cody Keaton is dirt poor. Her entire family, who live in Ramp, West Virginia, is dirt poor. Cody is immediately shown to be a caring, giving, and honorable woman who puts her family above all else. When good luck smiles down on her and she becomes an insanely rich woman, she meets bank manager Maddie Osbourne. Maddie dreams of getting the hell out of West Virginia and living in a larger city that has a football team, some good theater, and ethnic food. Greenville, WV has none of those things and that becomes a sticking point when she realizes that she’s developing some strong feelings for the financially naive and strong willed Cody. Then throw into the mix Cody’s family, who have a mess of their own issues and you’ve got a good idea of what you’ll find in Almost Heaven.

Now, in a nutshell, here’s what I think about the book. It’s been a good 30 minutes since I finished it so everything is still very fresh in my head, and in my heart. Maddie and Cody, I think, are very well written. I immediately felt like they were people and not just words on a page. That doesn’t always happen. I cared about them both and, to some extent, a few of the members of Cody’s family. The Montgomery family, Cody’s people, had a dynamic that was interesting and believable and so were the descriptions of the poverty they live with. There was no heavy handed bashing of the system nor blaming the victim. Meagher simply writes it the way it is – good and bad exist in all people and situations and there is only so much we have control over.

I absolutely fell in love with the place. I could see Ramp in my head and could nearly smell and feel the forest around me. I wanted to feel the water of the river and taste the fish that had been cooked on the campfire. I’ve always loved nature and feel most at peace while in it and this book made me feel like I was hiking along side the characters.

The romance was sweet and developed at a believable pace. There’s some angst but there were very few moments when I thought about shaking the hell out of the characters and making them talk to each other. I don’t want to go too much into the story but Cody and Maddie are very different people who seem to fit together very well, but not without some frustration, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. But what would a romance novel be without that?

I think, honestly, that this book has replaced All that Matters as my favorite. I just finished it and can’t wait until I can go back and read it again. I want to immerse myself in the forest and family again and see what I missed the first time through. And to connect with Maddie and Cody again. Of course, listening to a handful of my favorite John Denver songs on a loop for a few hours helped to set the mood.

Thank you, Ms. Meagher, for giving me several hours of unexpected joy. If you could pump out one like this every couple of months, I’d be forever in your debt. I would really like them more often but understand that you may have other things on your to-do list. But since you are so open to suggestions and accepting of criticism, that’s what I’m asking for. Also, fantastic job of getting the right balance of hair, boob, and ass descriptions. It felt perfect!

Click to buy Almost Heaven

P.S. All that Matters is also reviewed on C-Spot .

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