I’ll Stand by You by Sharon Sala #Review

I’ll Stand by You by Sharon Sala #ReviewI’ll Stand by You by Sharon Sala

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on June 2, 2015
Pages: 386
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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five-stars  

A heartwarming feel-good story in a small southern town with a sweet romance, quirky familiar characters, and a gently-paced plot full of tough times, poignant scenes, humor, and triumph. This was my second venture into the author’s world of Blessings, Georgia and it was an absolute treat. There really isn’t an official series and the book reads as a standalone though there are connections through the setting and familiar secondary characters.

Blessings, Georgia is a small community with its fair share of the usual types and a strong interest in everyone’s business. Reputations are hard to live down just ask Dori Grant single teenage mom and Johnny Pine son of a man in prison and of a woman who OD’d on Meth.

Johnny does the best he can working his solid job and caring for his two little brothers. Things are tight, but they’re doing alright until his little brother is bullied and beat up badly by older boys from upstanding families. This shocks the whole community. And right behind this incident comes the tragedy that befalls poor Dori. She soon learns who the truly good people are when almost everyone turns their back on her when she is left destitute. The Pines might not have much, but they are the ones who offer help.

Johnny and Dori struggle under their burdens, but slowly start relying on each other as they face gossip, loss, trouble from their pasts, and getting by. They enjoy some fun moments with their temporarily blended families and both think longingly of what it would be like if it went beyond temporary. Both are hesitant about opening up their hearts and tentatively accept what is growing between them, but then life throws them some more curves and they are forced to fight for their chance to be together and to be a family.

This was such a tender, beautiful story when it came to Johnny and Dori, but encompassed a broader range to include their families and the life of the town. Johnny and Dori are the main narrators, but others take their turn as well so the story is told from several perspectives. This was cool because I got to see their story from their own telling, but also how other folks saw them and their situation and saw the overall picture.

The story has some strong conflict, but it was interesting how it wove into the story organically. Things like death, disaster, illness, mean-spirited and greedy people, kind-hearted and loving people, social status, and stigmas through up barriers and I was so vested to see how this pair of young folk tackled them separately and together.

The characters are are a definite strength. Dori and Johnny are very young and still under twenty, but they are world-weary and mature beyond their years taking on responsibility for themselves and the children who depend on them. They both have bad reps in the community and so try to just quietly live their lives. I had so much respect for them both.

The cast of secondary characters were a huge mixed bag. This is what is fun about a small town story told right. These extras that pepper the scenes with their good, their bad, their humor, and even their mean just keep me riveted. The beauty shop, the diner, the grocery store, the church, the school, and pretty much any place where the people gathered offered some entertaining story. But in addition, there was Dori’s baby, Luther Joe, and Johnny’s brothers, Marshall and Beep who totally stole every scene they’re in.

As to the romance, its part of the story and is definitely a really good part, but it is not the only part so it took a while to develop. Dori and Johnny both have reasons to be cautious and they are. They are young and red-blooded so the heat snaps between them, but refreshingly they do it all right. They have a lot of bad things happen and they even fall apart under the pressure, but by golly they would put to shame older couples the way they talked things out, trusted, and relied on each other. Loved this pair and couldn’t wait for them to get together.

All in all, this was a delicious, warm slice of southern small town life and I want a second helping. I would recommend this one for those who like slow-paced, heartwarming Contemporary Romance.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Romance Roundabout #227 CR

Cliché Klatch #139 ‘That’ll tie a knot in their tail’

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

Latest posts by Sophia Rose (see all)

  • oh what a beautiful review Shari!! I love those small town feel to romances…its very different and very heartwarming. I haven’t tried this author, but I have been debating on grabbing this one up!! You convinced me though.

    • Glad I could help tip you in favor of a good one, Renee.

  • Those small town romances are really great when that’s what you’re in the mood for.

    • Exactly! When I want to feel good and get a good chuckle usually these work, Mary.

  • I like the cover for this one, so sweet and warm. I always like the secondary characters in small town romances especially when well done, which sounds like it’s the case here. They really make the town come alive. The romance sounds well doen and sweet and I like the sound of how they talk things through. Great review!

    • Oh yes, all of that, Lola! It was a sweet and heartwarming story.

  • I sometimes read small town romances-this one sounds good although I think I would be really mad at the bullies if they don’t get any punishment!

    • Oh, they get their comeuppance, Lorna. I was feeling pretty vengeful, too.

  • Lindy Gomez

    I love a great small town romance with tender moments! Especially when it has humor and triumph over tough times. Johnny and Dori sound like very likable characters. It’s horrible that they had to deal with stigmas based on their circumstances. I love that even though this story had a great romance, there was also a lot more to it!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    • They were a great characters, but yes, it was really neat that the romance is part of a bigger story of the town life.