Synopsis: From the author of Sit! Stay! Speak! comes a tender, terrific novel complete with long-buried secrets, a three-legged pot belly pig, and an irresistible dog—an unforgettable story about love, friendship, and community. Perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Mary Alice Monroe.
Caroline O’Connor never dreamed she’d be back home in Cold River, Missouri, the Ozark Mountain town where everyone is ‘up your business.’…they mean well as they drive you crazy. She thought she’d left town for good, but now she’s back, helping to care for her New York born mother—struck with Alzheimer’s, and prone to saying and doing anything—and her father, the beloved local doctor frustrated he can’t cure his own wife.
As for Caroline, she’s doing ‘just fine’ coping with her parents, her brazen cousin Ava Dawn’s marital disasters, her mostly-deaf dog…and with Noah Cranwell, far-flung relative of a local family mostly infamous for running moonshine, an ex-veteran who’s come to Cold River with troubles of his own.
Caroline believes she knows everything about Cold River and the people who live in its hills and hollers … but sometimes life’s greatest surprises happen closest to home.
TRB Book Review: 5/5
Comedic, relatable, it has just enough romance tied with a strong female lead that made it oh-so addicting!
In the past few months I have come to respect and adore Women’s Fiction in a completely new and unexpected way, Just Fine With Caroline has only solidified my newfound love of the genre! Annie England Noblin’s ability to establish her character’s personalities, intertwine their lives, and drown you with an absolute need to keep reading is just fantastic!
Caroline moved back home to Cold River before she was able to finish her college degree so that she could help take care of her family, specifically her very ill mother and her busy but devoted doctor father. She’s spent nearly 5 years back in town, running her parent’s bait shop by the river and attempting to be the happiest version of herself. She’s got good friends, old flings, and a loving but dysfunctional family that keeps her grounded – but is she too grounded? When Noah Cranwell moves back into town she is one of the first to discover him across from their shop at the old Cranwell Station. From dealing with her cousin Ava Dawn’s psycho and soon-to-be ex-husband, to uncovering the mysterious past of the Cranwell family and their connection to her own, Caroline is tested by her own patience and the people that she cares for. Long buried secrets come to surface and she is pushed to the edge of her own reason where she fights to forgive and allow herself to love.
As I mentioned above, I am new to the Women’s Fiction, or the Contemporary Fiction scene so if I’m being entirely honest I had mixed feelings about this book when I began reading. I was very excited when I found out about it, hence my dying to get my hands on an ARC!
I thought that it started very simple, a basic story line with un-rounded characters, but those were my thoughts in the first 5 pages. I then realized that I wasn’t giving this book enough credit, I was judging the first 5 pages I mean come on. I quickly whipped myself into shape and started over with an entirely different approach (having just finished a long suspense novel with very hard-spoken English I’m not sure I was used to “regular” English and it knocked me back a step). Once I re-approached it, I couldn’t put it down.
The first half of the book is a little slower, you are introduced to the characters and get to know them a little better, their lives, why they are where they are, some history about their pasts as well as the town of Cold River. Caroline is instantly a strong character, very witty and sarcastic. At one point in the book I believe she describes herself as “small but scrappy,” which could not be more on point! Her cousin Ava Dawn is struggling to get out of her abusive marriage, living with Caroline and her parents and helping to care for her aunt. It is obvious right away that they are close to each other but complete opposites in the personality department. Caroline’s father works as a doctor in town and is a very distant, removed character even though he is often in the story. Noah Cranwell and the Cranwell family have an air of mystery about them, but the author manages to uncover just enough to keep you hooked as you’re reading. Noah and Caroline’s relationship is cautionary and then at times very passionate. There are some smaller stories woven throughout about Caroline’s good friend Court and her ex-boyfriend Reese, as well as old friends and Ava Dawn’s marital traumas. These grow and develop perfectly as the book goes on. They’re so relevant to the story, to who Caroline is and why she feels the way she does, it was all very well strung together!
“Caroline had already decided not to stay. She wasn’t going to go fishing, and she wasn’t going to wait around for the grand opening either. Instead she was going to go home, sink into a bubble bath, drink an entire bottle of cheap wine, and read the book her father had given her over a month ago about Pretty Boy Floyd.” – pg. 333, Just Fine With Caroline
This book is a fantastic display of real life emotion. The day-to-day struggles of a young woman and the confusing nature of relationships and responsibilities. It is so relatable and it feels so real that you tend to forget you aren’t right there in Cold River with the characters! I swallowed up all 368 pages in less than 3 days, and felt a lump in my throat when I realized that it was over.
Just Fine With Caroline will be available via your favorite online retailer on October 11th, 2016, which is just under 2 weeks away! So if you haven’t already, please make sure to pre-order and add this to the top of your #tbr list ASAP, you will not be disappointed!
I’ve received this complimentary ARC from the author Annie England Noblin, in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.
To learn more about this author, please visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AnnieEnglandNoblin/