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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Smitten - Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt & Denise Hunter

Released December 20, 2011

Colleen Coble
Kristin Billerbeck
Diann Hunt
Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

I'm a sucker for stories set in Vermont. I've read some over the years that have completely gotten the state's geography wrong and others that were pretty spot on. The romantic anthology, Smitten, by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter is one of those that is spot on. While Smitten is a fictional town, I imagine Waterbury in my head as I'm reading it. The only difference is that Waterbury's death hasn't the closing of a mill town, it's the flooding resulting from Hurricane Irene that ravaged the city. Big businesses like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has moved much of their plant to another town and are talking about moving some of the business out of state. Ben and Jerry's is moving much of their production to another town. Businesses along the main drag were severely flooded and many ended up shutting down. While reading Smitten, those are the images that popped up in my head.

Smitten is the story of four women who decide to save their town by turning it into a romantic hot spot. Each author takes on one of the characters. There's Natalie who's been raising her niece Mia since Mia was an infant. When Natalie's drugged out sister threatens to take Mia away unless Natalie gives her money, Natalie finds support in the man rumored to be Mia's father. Julia needs to find a place for her spa, and the other half of Zak's former grill doesn't seem ideal, no matter what her mentor says. A fire forces Shelby to find a new location for her finishing school for girls, and working with Nick seems like the best solution, but his attitude is making it hard to stay. Reese's dreams of owning a sporting goods store are coming true, but with her friend Griffen handling the renovations, she's not sure being friends is good enough.

Basically, while the women have the town's support for turning Smitten into a romantic getaway, the men in their lives think it's a ridiculous idea and fight the women every step of the way. That adds to the romantic tension that develops within each story. It's very enjoyable, though I did feel the romantic tension between Denise Hunter's Reese and Griffen was best.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable quartet of stories that captured the setting well and tossed very likable characters into the mix. Rumor has it that other books set in Smitten are in the works. I, for one, can't wait to read them.

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