Dark Roots and Cowboy Boots
by Luann McLane
(Signet, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-451-21892-2
***
I breathed a sigh of relief after reading Luann McLane’s Dark Roots and Cowboy Boots. I was anxious, because of the name, that this book would perpetuate the stereotype of the trashy, uneducated Southerner, which I, as a Texan, deplore. The characters are certainly unsophisticated, but have a warm and genuine southern charm that any reader can appreciate.

Jamie Lee Carter and her best friend from childhood, Macy McCoy, run the Cut ‘n’ Curl beauty parlor in the small town of Hootertown, Kentucky. On the day a movie producer rolls into town in a silver Jaguar, Macy and Jamie Lee decide to quit “pussyfooting around” with their lives and have a summer to remember. For Macy, that means pursuing a romantic relationship with Jamie Lee’s brother, Luke, whom she has always loved from afar. Jamie Lee accepts a date with the movie producer, Parker Carrington.

Parker is searching the South for the perfect southern small town in which to film a movie, and thinks he has found it when he arrives in Hootertown. As a setting for a book the town certainly works. The vivid description of Hootertown and its inhabitants and their traditions is completely charming. The town is populated with people that resemble individuals that everyone knows, such as the plain speaking elderly customer at the beauty parlor and the overweight counter help at the local ice cream shop.

The time that Jamie Lee spends introducing Parker to small town Kentucky life has an unexpected benefit. Her brother’s best friend, Griff, is inexplicably jealous. Jamie Lee has been very attracted to Griff since childhood, but he has always spurned her advances. Griff’s seeming change of heart makes for a nice emotional drama. Will Jamie Lee end up with Parker and leave her beloved town behind to follow her heart to L.A.? Or will she try one more time to catch Griff’s eye and risk being rejected by him again?

I would recommend this book to a friend. The female leads are gentle and somewhat shy as a rule, but both have spine and Jamie Lee has a definite temper as demonstrated to Griff on more than one occasion. The choice between Parker and Griff is a difficult one for Jamie Lee, as both male leads are deliciously masculine and attractive, for very different reasons. Watching these characters interact is a delight. The “everyman” quality of the down to earth characters can work for any reader, not just those familiar with small town America.

The setting and characters in Dark Roots and Cowboy Boots aren’t the only thing this book has going for it. The dialogue is very well written and often quite amusing, and the love scenes are nice and warm.

One definite drawback, the cause of the three heart rating instead of four hearts, is the cause of the conflict between Jamie Lee and Griff. It just doesn’t ring true for the normally sensible Griff, and ruined that part of the book for me. The HEA is rewarding, however, and the sequel, Macy and Luke’s story, seems promising.

--Wendy Livingston


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