"This was just the type of thing to happen around the Hamilton Family. Tom should have known the day couldn't go by without some sort of mishap. Their luck was nearly as bad as his. If there was an abandoned well around, one of them was bound to fall in."
This observation made by the hero of the book gives a pretty accurate glimpse of the most-of-the-time (comedically) disaster prone but all-of-the-time colorful family of the heroine.
Libby Hamilton finds herself back home with her family after a disastrous end to her promising corporate career in Chicago. She is fired as a result of a dreaded mistaken 'reply all' email wherein she disparages her boss. Jobless, she moves back into her old room until she can regroup.
In the meantime her father, a retired high school history teacher with an encyclopedic level trivia knowledge of the mating habits of various members of the animal kingdom and a dismal entrepreneurship record, has bought a broken down old one room school house to turn into an old fashioned Ice Creame Shoppe. Libby is drafted as his helper.
His contractor is Tom Murphy. He of the brawny arms and complicated relationship with a teenaged daughter. Tom is not much of a talker (but that is ok the Hamilton family talk enough for him) and he is overcoming some difficult times but he finds himself fascinated by Libby and drawn, despite himself, into the high comedic drama that seems to follow her family.
I had read [b:Crazy Little Thing|17204568|Crazy Little Thing|Tracy Brogan|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361951139s/17204568.jpg|21490715] by this author and completely ADORED it! It was funny and snappy. And the family dynamics in that book were a hoot. So when I saw this book become available, I wanted to read this as well, hoping lightning would strike again. And boy did it.
Libby and Tom made for a sweet, root-worthy couple. Libby is resigned to her fate but not bitter. Remarkably so, I thought. While she acknowledged that being jobless and back home living with her parents made her feel itchy and a bit worthless, she doesn't wallow. Tom was a bit on the darker side. He is a recent widower who is in family therapy with his teenaged daughter who is sullen and non-communicative. The thing that I loved is that their issues weren't just about the death of the mother. Much of what Tom and Rachel (his daughter) were going through was just the normal growing pains that a difficult teen would have with her parent. Except is was exacerbated by the absence of the mother and Tom's own feelings of inadequacy as a now single parent. At one point in the book, Libby makes an observation about Tom's character saying he is like a "blind man trying to describe an elephant." While others around him can see the whole man, all he can do is focus on those parts that are right in front of him, and in his case he tends to be self critical. He was a bit of a "glass half empty" kind of a guy, but it didn't make him a downer character. It just made for a nice contrast with Libby's lighter self and added a nice bit of internal romantic conflict for them as a couple. They also had loads of chemistry and I liked that Tom could be a little whimsical and joke and flirt when he was around Libby. In all the romance was nice and served as a good centered piece of the book.
However much of the hilarity and a lot of the goodwill I feel for the book comes from hanging out with the Hamilton family. Libby's family consisted of her parents, her paternal grandmother, two sisters and a brother-in-law and a soon-to-be brother-in-law. And while I would not say that the author spent a ton of time on them, she did somehow manage to create a picture of a family that felt very authentic and memorable. Their parts in the book were welcome spots of levity that also served as a contrast to Tom's more serious family drama. The relationship between the sisters hit the right note between love and rivalry. Libby's mother's long suffering attitude toward her spouse's various schemes did not come off as sitcomy, the conversations around the family dinners were funny but also felt like they could happen around anyone's family dinner table. And while dramatic, and yes, sometimes sit-comy things tended to happen to the Hamiltons it didn't feel contrived or over the top, but rather it felt like "well, of course
this would happen to this crew..."
So the sweet romance, the funny antics of a large portion of the supporting characters and some great bits here and there about their life in their small town (I especially like how her dad seemed to have been everybody's history teacher) made for a great, surprisingly meaty, read. Fun book I highly recommend.Review based on an ARC received via the Amazon Vine program