I'll Stand By You by Sharon Sala
Series: Blessings Georgia #2
on June 2nd, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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No one is alone.
Dori Grant is no stranger to hardship. As a young single mother in the gossip-fueled town of Blessings, Georgia, she's weathered the storm of small-town disapproval most of her life. But when Dori loses everything within the span of an evening, she realizes she has no choice but to turn to her neighbors.
As long as there is love to give.
Everyone says the Pine boys are no good, but Johnny Pine has been proving the gossips wrong ever since his mother died and he took over raising his brothers. His heart goes out to the young mother and child abandoned by the good people of Blessings. Maybe he can be the one to change all that...
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
I’ll Stand by You was different in an almost cartoonish kind of way. I also didn’t expect it to be SYNA (that stands for So Young New Adult) by the blurb, but surprisingly that didn’t bother me one bit, mostly because they were made very mature by their circumstances.
I want to believe that the (aforementioned) cartoonish feel to the whole town and every character was something that the author did consciously, but as this is my first book by Sharon Sala I wouldn’t know for sure.
At the beginning of the story I was a bit confused by the multiple PoVs and struggled with the importance of the town’s hairdressers daily routine and such, but as I said, I’m taking this story more as a satire than a romance so eventually when everything started to connect and made a little more sense, I got over it.
Basically this is a story about a town. A small town. A small town that gives a whole new meaning to the Spanish saying “Small town, Big Hell”. Everyone is in everyone else’s business, the gossip is more prolific than bitch slapping at a shoe sale, and the whole wrong side of the train tracks is taken to a new level.
The story centers around Dori (like the fish and if you can believe it, poor girl, her full name is Adorable…) who’s a teenage single mother living with her grandfather after both her parents were killed in a car accident. Dori lost her good standing with the polite society of Blessings when she had to drop out of high-school to become a mother and even worse when she wouldn’t say who the father of the baby was! The shame!! It doesn’t matter either that she works tirelessly, got her GED and is currently taking college classes online besides taking care of her baby and her grandpa… she surely is a brainless floozy.
Then there is Johnny, a 20 year old young man who at 18, when his drug-addict mother dies, fights to get custody of his two younger brothers. With his father in jail since-and-for-ever, the way his mother died and the fact he’s living on the wrong side of town, it doesn’t matter that he’s busting his butt to keep his 7 and 10-year-old brothers fed and clothed, or that they are polite and nice, or that they are always on time and with their school work done… they are just white trash.
So when four 10-year-olds beat the crap out of Johnny’s baby brother at school… of course it’s the little boy’s fault, when the other kids are from outstanding families it can’t be any other way…
I must admit that, while I the stereotyping was kind of funny, it did get on my nerves a little… it was just too exaggerated. A lot of the situations were a bit OTT too…
Let’s take Dori’s situation for example. While hard, her life was mostly ok, then one night, her house burns down, and her grandfather dies of a heart attack on the sidewalk while the firemen are fighting the fire.
All her neighbors witnessing this tragedy just give her their condolences and leave her on the street with nothing else but the diapers bag and a wailing baby.
Cue in Johnny and his brothers, who were concerned for their nanny and went to make sure it wasn’t her house burning. When they see Dori standing there all alone and with nothing they offer her a place to stay until she can get back on her feet. Luckily, after all this some other towners let us see there’s still hope for humanity.
Still, the whole story line is a bit out there… and I mean stratosphere out there (lots and lots of spoilers coming next)View Spoiler » we find out Dori was drugged and raped at a school dance (that’s how she got her baby), and later we are informed that not only is it not the first time this 23-year-old creep has abused an underage girl, 2 other assaults had resulted in pregnancy as well. Furthermore, he has the gall to try and take advantage of Dori by suing for shared custody and child support when he finds out she has some money.
And that’s another thing, after believing she has nothing, it turns out Dori’s grandfather was a genius, he had the car and the house and himself insured for a lot of money but he also had a stock portfolio in Dori’s name worth millions.
Then one of Dori’s neighbors that didn’t help Dori out through her misfortunes is worried what everyone in town will say about her because of this, so she decides to save face and her only way to do it is to make Dori and Johnny look bad, and goes as far as calling social services on them.
‘Nough said. « Hide Spoiler
As I said, I guess this is more a satire than a romance. I would have blowtorched half the town if I were in their place for sure.
After my initial confusion with the multiple PoV’s, I got into the rhythm of the writing and it was a great read. Or, more accurately, it was exasperatingly entertaining.
As parting words, I thought the name of the hair salon “Curl up and Dye” was morbidly hilarious, and I’m definitely going to start researching Ms. Sala’s work.
Sparkles’ Rating: 3.5 Stars
“Nothing means a damn thing if I don’t have my baby.”
“And now we get to my suggestion. Do you like Johnny Pine?”
“Yes, of course. He’s been wonderful to us.”
“No, I mean, could you like him as relationship material?”
“That possibility exists,” she said.
“Good. Now let me talk to Johnny.”
She handed the phone back to Johnny.
“Now he wants to talk to you.”
She took the baby and Johnny took the phone.
“I have a suggestion that could bring an end to your troubles.”
“Do you like Dori?”
“Well, sure. She’s great.”
“Do you like her enough to consider a personal relationship with her?”
Johnny looked at Dori, then cupped her face and ran his thumb down the side of her jaw.
“Yes, I like her enough to consider a personal relationship.”
Dori shivered beneath his touch as she realized Butterman was asking Johnny the same question he’d asked her.
“Put the phone on speaker,” Butterman said.
“Just a minute,” Johnny said and then pressed a button. “Okay, you’re on speaker now.”
“Here’s the deal,” Butterman said. “You two are very young to have such adult responsibilities. You’re both trying to take care of your families on your own, and now DFCS has their nose in your business and is threatening you with removing the children from your custody, right?”
“Right,” they said.
“So this would end tomorrow if you were married.”
Johnny took a quick breath, started to speak, and then found himself staring at Dori instead, waiting for her reaction.
Dori already knew Johnny cared for her because he’d told her. What he didn’t know was that she was very attracted to him.
“Well? Did both of you faint or what?” Butterman asked.
“I’m game if she is,” Johnny said.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep our boys,” Dori said.
Butterman chuckled. “Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. If it were me, I wouldn’t waste any time. Go get the license and find a preacher, and your trouble with Miss Carter is a thing of the past. I assume I am invited to the wedding.”
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