Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
This was a rather nice story about a young woman who is trying to learn about her family & falls in love with the sexy doctor next door.
Desdemona 'Desi' Rask has lived a vagabond existence with her pianist/lounge singer mother, Ester, all her life. She's never had any connection with her mother's family, except for vague memories of her grandmother who attended a birthday party or two when Desi was young. And she didn't even know the name of her father.
But all that changes after her mother dies. Armed with her father's name and her need to connect with the family that had so long been denied to her, Desi accepts her maternal grandmother's invitation to come stay with her and learn a little something about her mother's past.
This was a quick and sweet read. Both Desi and the hero Kent were easy characters to enjoy. Even though their romance is very low conflict, it doesn't come without its own challenges. Kent is wary of trusting any woman because his wife left him and his son because she hated life in their town. She just up and left and basically served him papers once she reached the big city. He is wary of the pretty newcomer who effortlessly charms his son and makes him feel the first real stirrings of anything since his wife left him. But he can't trust her to stay so he tries to keep her at arm's length.
And for her part, Desi is grappling with identity issues. She is biracial. She's only ever lived with her white mother and yet she has no connection with her Scandinavian roots any more than she does with her African-American heritage. She feels a little betwixt and between.
Outside of the romance which was charming, I thought a major strength of the book was how the author had Desi grapple with her own ignorance of all parts of her heritage, not just her AA heritage. The town her grandmother lives in was settled by Scandinavian settlers and even generations later the town is pretty much still predominantly that. It is during a founder's day parade where the Finnish, the Swedish, the Danish, the Viking and the Icelandic peoples all wearing their different native costumes brings home how, even though Desi grew up with her Danish mother, she has no clue what that means. There is a moment when she is looking at faces of the people wondering if she can see herself somewhere in there too.
But later she also meets an African American man, Lincoln, who runs a restaurant and it also brought home to her how very little she knows about AA heritage as well. There was lightly comic scene where he's appalled at her lack of knowledge of soul food.
Her first meeting with Lincoln made me grin. There was an episode of the tv show Black-ish where the father is lecturing his son on the importance of 'The Nod'. 'The Nod' is what happens when the only two AA people amongst a group of non-AA people encounter one another. They acknowledge their sameness amongst the difference around them. They give each other 'The Nod' (btw, I can attest that this does happen. When my oldest son was just starting middle school we moved to a new house in a predominantly white community. We went to the open house and while going from classroom to classroom, we passed a black couple. The only other black family I had encountered that night. Passing through the halls our eyes met and we gave each other 'The Nod' and kept going. My husband (who is white) said 'Do you know those people?' I said 'Never saw them before in my life'. 'The Nod' is real y'all.)
But back to the book. During the parade amongst all the Nordic folk, Desi is feeling a little...brown. She happens to catch Lincoln's eyes. The two are about the only two brown folk there and they kinda smile at each other and give each other 'The Nod'. The author even acknowledges that this is what it is. SO yeah, like I said, it made me grin.
Desi is determined to put the pieces together of her background even if it means leaving to find her father and Kent (who by now is falling in love) is determined to keep Desi around. I also liked the initial awkwardness with her grandmother that slowly turns to true family affection. And I liked how the whole thing with her father went down. It was a bit messy in a real life way.
My only real issue with the book is that it feels a little incomplete. I wish Desi had had more conversations with her grandmother about her mother. I wanted to know more about Ester. Also I wonder if this book is part of a series that takes place in the town. There is a side plot about a big town discovery that does not get resolved at all.
But overall I enjoyed this. Good discovery.