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Much Ado in Montana Paperback – March 30, 2014
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From the Back Cover
Tim couldn't see that five years - or her bald, tattooed librarian - had changed Tara one bit. Her gray eyes still shot sparks, and she still had a line of malarkey a mile long.
She'd never been classically beautiful. Her features were too strong for that description. When Tim had been young and stupid, they'd always struck him as being perfect for her quick intelligence, even when she'd used it to aim snarky barbs at him. Her mouth, though, was another story. Her mouth was a work of art, wide and pink and soft, and it brought back unwanted memories that didn't involve snark or barbs. She'd left it unpainted tonight, the way he'd always liked it. He refused to wonder if bald and tattooed liked it that way, too.
The little he could see of her figure hadn't changed, either. He wondered, absently, if she would still fit against him as well as she had five years ago, and brought himself up sharply as he reached the bar.
The chances of him finding out if Tara Hillerman was still as desirable as he remembered in his fantasies were less than none. And if he was to maintain his sanity over the next few weeks while he figured out what had his mother so upset, he'd better remember that.
Too bad, though.
"Any microbrews, Charlie?" he shouted to the bartender over the noise.
"Got some Moose Drool -" The beefy man in the dirty apron turned around and beamed. He stretched out a huge damp paw. "Tim Swanson! Come home to take over your daddy's practice?"
Sighing inwardly, Tim shouted back the answer he knew he'd be repeating till his eyes crossed. Till he managed to escape back to Seattle. "Nope. Just visiting."
Charlie frowned. "Your dad said you were."
And so it begins, Tim thought ruefully, as he tried to explain over the racket to Charlie that, no, he hadn't changed his mind, that, yes, he'd just taken on a perfectly good position at Harborview Hospital in Seattle now that he was done with his residency, and, much as he liked the good people of Campbell, he didn't want to come back to the sticks to live. Or words to that effect.
It was going to be damned hard to keep explaining all this without hurting anyone's feelings.
About the Author
M.M. Justus used to live in a town a great deal like Campbell, Montana. Several of them, in fact.
She holds degrees in British and American literature and history and library science, and a certificate in museum studies. In her other life, she's held jobs as far flung as hog farm bookkeeper, music school secretary, professional dilettante (aka reference librarian), and museum curator.
Her other interests include quilting, gardening, meteorology, and the travel bug she inherited from her father. She lives on the rainy side of the Cascade mountains in Washington state.
Please visit her website and blog at mmjustus.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/M.M.Justusauthor and on Twitter @mmjustus.
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by M. M. Justus
Much Ado in Montana. a novel by M M Justus, takes places in Campbell, Montana, a tight-knit small community. The story features the local doctor and his son. Dr. Samuel is about to celebtate his 75th birthday and faces real concerns about who will take over when he retires. His son, Dr. Tim has just finished medical school and has accepted his first postion as a doctor in a large, prestigious hospital in Seattle. He came home for his dad's birthday only to find his mom has an agenda for him. He is to figure out what is wrong with his father and fix it. His dad also has an agenda - to guilt Tim into moving back to Campbell and taking over the clinic when he retires. Add to that sparks igniting on every encounter with the ex-girfriend, Tara, and Tim soon realizes his quick, non-confrontational trip to Campell is turning into anything but that.
Justus's writing style is simple and easy to follow. The plot is straight forward. The storyline flows well and transitions are smooth. Just when storyline might seem predictable Justus throws in an unexpected twist. Character development is fair.
The story is engaging with two romances intertwined throughout the book. One seems to be sugar and spice the other fire and brimstone. This contrast made for great movement through the story. It was refreshing to see romance written that was not the cookie cutter we see so often in romances. While we do have a romance Justus does not limit our story to that. As a skilled writer she gives us a more complete life picture. In example, she probes the relationship between Tim and his dad in a way readers can identify as real life issues are addressed. Sometimes Tim feels like a little boy again when speaking with his dad and at other times he feels he is having to act in the role of the parent. Tim having to confront his dad about possible dementia envoked compassion within the reader as if they felt Tim's pain or perhaps feared it would be theirs one day. She also shows character who have overcome obstacles such as an unstable childhood in the character Jack. She paints a realistic picture of how he was raised and how he initially conducted his life. Then she reveals a man who is successful in the scientific community, who is living a life filled with things he loves and giving back to the community.
There was very little I disliked in the book. One part that did not seem to flow well and was repetive was some of the conversation between Tara and Tim defining their feelings and future (not being specific as not to be a spoiler). It just seemed I read that same scene several times. Their relationship just never seemed to get to and stay at an adult level. That flowed into a problem with the ending. The ending seemed to be moving in the right direction but really fizzled out especially with Tara's part.
The only other area of concern was the consistent negativity over the church. At first it seemed to be written as part of defining Becky's character but then it keep showing up in other areas. The people were made to look harsh, cruel and unforgiving. And there was nothing to offset it. In a small, close knit town in Montana there would seem to be some balance.
I enjoyed this book. It is a fairly light read so it was nice for an end of the week relaxer. I enjoyed Justus style of writing and will be looking for more of her work!
I had the pleasure of speaking to MM Justus several weeks ago as she was prepping to release her latest book - Much Ado in Montana. She offered me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My first question was "Is it smutty?" Her genuine reply ("It's not smutty by my standards -- there are several very short, very vanilla sex scenes, but that's it.") made me laugh. (as it happens the sex scenes actually aren't bad.) While it wasn't an epic read, it was heart-warming and left me with a smile.
This is a sleepy book about a town in Montana with a single, aging doctor named Samuel. His son, Tim, is also a doctor but has no desire to move back "home" to take over the family practice. Tim and Tara were childhood sweethearts when things got messed up in college.
And now they're together in town for the first time in years.
Tim yanked her up until they were plastered together. And it wasn't enough. Nothing was going to be enough except being naked in bed together. Every night. Forever.
My main complaint about the book is that the first 40% of the book is background and history. I think I'd have enjoyed it more if it had been condensed a bit more. Some of it is absolutely necessary. We need to know that Tim loves Tara and Tara loves Tim but that a miscommunication (seriously, I need to make that a searchable tag or something!) split them apart. We also need to get to know the friends in the story so we care about them because they have their own B plot which is actually pretty good.
He couldn't help asking. "Is that why you came into my office and ravished me? To ask me to dinner?"
Truth be told, I think I was more invested in the B Plot between Jack and Rebecca. And I thought they made the better couple. Tara and Tim made me want to shake them. If they'd have just talked to each other, it would have been fine. And we never did really get a believable explanation about why Tim didn't explain the truth so many years ago. So, I wanted to smack them.
The big lesson in the book is about trust. It's shown in the romantic and familial relationships, but at the end, I never felt like Tara really trusted Tim. Jack and Rebecca seemed to get it. Tara and Tim, well, they're going to fight. A lot. Which maybe,, in the end, is what does make them perfect for each other.
All in all, it was a book that left me smiling. Some of it was bittersweet, but overall, I felt complete when it was done and content with the happily-ever-after.
"You're my heart, my soul, and my common sense."
Smut Factor: 3 stars- Not Bad
Character likability: 3 stars: Didn’t hate them.
Storytelling: 5 stars- I wake up thinking this really happened.
Writing and editing quality: 3 stars- A few errors, but nothing that took away from the story.