Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bulls Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

From Goodreads: Elizabeth "Betts" McGee loved those lazy afternoons on pristine Bulls Island in the Carolina Lowcountry. But everything came crashing down when tragic fate—coupled with nasty rumor and innuendo—ended her engagement to Charleston golden boy J.D. Langley of the fabulously wealthy (and fabulously snooty) Langley clan. Betts left soon after, and she hasn't been back in nearly twenty years. Successfully reinventing herself in New York City, Betts is now a top banking executive and heading up the most important project of her career, but it'll transform the untouched island she loved in her youth into something unrecognizable. And it's forcing her to return to the bosom of her estranged family, where she may not be welcomed with open arms. Worse still, it's uniting her with ex-flame J.D., who's changed . . . but perhaps not enough.

This one was just alright for me. I've read a couple of Dorothea Benton Franks books lately, Isle of Palms which I did not like and Lowcountry Summer which I did like. This one would fall somewhere in the middle. I didn't actively dislike it but I wasn't all that thrilled either. She does a great job capturing the Lowcountry feel by using actual places, descriptions of native plants, regionally appropriate architecture, and realistic accents for the characters speech. But perhaps I was a bit jaded about it all because it is so familiar to me, hard to get too excited about an alligator in the story when we live with an alligator in our pond like most people on the islands around here do. The key conflict was a "ripped from the headlines" style plot about developers versus environmentalist, that's a pretty constant issue here as well. Everyone decries the loss of natural habitats but at the same time they'd all like a house on the water. So when the things that are supposed to make the story special just don't feel that special you are left with the bare bones of the romance and relationship to carry you through and those were just okay for me. I was displeased with the lack of repercussions for the resolution of one major plot line. Frank did that in Isle of Palms as well, set up a great big secret with all sorts of tension and then everyone just says, "Oh, okay, it's okay." and we're done. I still have another of hers in my TBR pile, The Land of Mango Sunsets, I'm curious how much I will like it.

This one will count towards the Southern Literature Challenge hosted by Jen at The Introverted Reader.  Click on the logo to see my progress.

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