Holly Banks is on a desperate mission to have it all, but nothing in life goes according to plan. She’s quickly learning that keeping up with the Joneses is a full-time job, especially when the women of Primm, her new neighborhood, seem to have it together all the time.
With her husband’s job in flux, her daughter’s difficulty with learning to read, and her mother’s new zest for dating, Holly’s life is already anything but picture perfect. Then her dog digs up an old artifact in the village center, and the mishap draws the attention of local media. Because of course it would.
Holly finds herself at the center of a mystery between two rival towns that, if solved, could change the Village of Primm forever. Attention is the last thing she needs as she’s launching a new business, the village-wide “Parade of Homes” is approaching—though she’s hardly unpacked—and she needs to submit her entry for an upcoming film festival. Can Holly still create her perfect (looking) life? Or is fate about to go off script and give her a story she never could have imagined?
Source: NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing Rating: 4/5 stars
**SPOILERS FOR BOOK ONE**
Inexplicably, Holly Banks has survived the first month-ish in her new town, new home, and new community. Her mother is still in residence and acting weird, her daughter has mostly settled into Kindergarten, and Holly is looking to take back her life and put her film degree to good use.
In Holly’s mind, she will launch a small film studio out of her kitchen and help the surrounding communities with their photographic, filming, and advertising needs. All Holly needs is to clear out the kitchen, get a small business loan, buy all the equipment, and start marketing her skills to her friends and neighbors. With her daughter in school all day, her husband away at work, and her mother expanding her social circle, Holly has time to accomplish all her goals.
Here’s the rub . . . .
Holly’s daughter is away at school all day, but she is at a very unique school that expects above and beyond from both students and parents alike. Her mother is acting stranger than normal, and her husband is suddenly and mysteriously sick and staying home. Additionally, Holly’s wayward dog, Struggle continues to sneak out of the house and cause all sorts of mischief in the neighborhood and Mary-Margaret, Holly’s nemesis has gone into hiding when the Village of Primm needs her most.
Yes, the Village of Primm is on the verge of collapse and financial ruin if the newsletter and texts are to be believed. The beloved botanical garden has been blow-torched and now all the plants have to be reseeded, replanted, and regrown. Without the botanical garden, the community has lost one of its largest sources of income. A lack of tourists and income means a marked lack of sales for other local businesses and the overall lowering of property values. Did I mention it has become Holly’s job to fix all these issues all while trying to balance and organizing and improve her own life?
As always, Holly goes about things in the way she always does, with sheer panic and a sense of being totally out of control. First up is trying to coax a devastated and humiliated Mary-Margaret out her she shed; next up is trying to decide if Struggle can be used to help solve a local town mystery; third up is organizing her daughter’s Kindergarten wedding; and finally, there is the small matter of overcoming her fear of flying to capture footage that will help launch her business and save the Village of Primm. Absolutely no pressure 😊
The Bottom Line: While I didn’t love this story as much as the first, I am still very drawn to the character that is Holly Banks. Bless her heart, Holly has a way of getting pulled into situations not of her own making, immediately committing some huge faux pas, and then finding a way to save the day for everyone. If you don’t laugh at the situations Holly finds herself in, you’re going to cry at the absolute overwhelming nature of the events. Knowing everyone is going to come out a little worse for wear, but ultimately fine helps tremendously when starting this series. I realize these two books haven’t fared well on Goodreads, but I have found them to be quite entertaining and certainly worth a go.