Every book in the Rose Gardner series is my new favorite and right now I love this book so much I want to marry it! Trying to move on from a broken heart, trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be, figuring out what she needs from her nearest and dearest, Rose finds herself on the run from a murderer, hiding out, and realizing that she's a lot stronger and more resilient than she thought she was.
Rose is her bravest, most open, most independent self in this book. This girl has grown by leaps and bounds since the first time we met her, sitting at her desk at the DMV and feeling like life had so little to offer her. It's a joy and a pleasure to see Rose mature and grow into the confident, self-reliant, strong young woman that she is by the end of this book. Rose is every woman who ever doubted her beauty, her allure, her talents. I love Rose's internal dialogue and her logic, as well as the fact that she's just so much fun! This is the character a writer wants to create, but so few do; real, three-dimensional, and utterly captivating.
Mason and Joe are here, too, and Rose is still reeling from her break up with Joe. Reverend Jonah is here, too, being a friend and a counselor to Rose and helping her to see a clearer path for herself. He's also instrumental in allowing Rose to see the other relationships in her life in the bright light of truth, which creates a couple of really memorable scenes for us.
The plot for this novel involves a villain we've met before coming after our girl. The whole thing develops pretty organically, and flows in a logical manner. I have to say I figured out the twist pretty early on, but that didn't spoil the book for me at all, because I'm there for more reasons than just what happens. How it happens matters, and there is nothing I enjoy more than checking in on my friends in Henryetta, GA.
The secondary plot for this book is how Rose comes to terms with her past, her present, and her family. What she discovers about where and who she came from sets her up, I think, for the next book. There are two more Rose Gardner books set for this year, and this book sort of gave me an indication of where things might go. I hope they go there.
If you're a fan of Ms. Swank, you're going to love this book. If you're a fan of Rose Gardner, you're going to love this book. If you like mystery, romance, a little sex, or old farmhouses, you're going to enjoy this book. Whether you're Team Joe or Team Mason or Team Someone else, you'll like this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
There is really not a flaw to be found in this book. Not a single mis-step. Swank has written her heart out for us, and it's a really great piece of work. I'm trying not to give away ANY spoilers here, because I don't want to ruin even the smallest joy here, but there are some really great moments in this book. Oh, and Muffy is still the coolest dog ever.
Should you not have read the previous installments of this series, do so now, before reading 31. It would certainly stand on its own, but the joy of seeing Rose's progress in the world from start to now is just too satisfying and too much fun to miss. Start with Twenty-eight and a Half Wishes and go from there. By the time you finish 31, you'll be as in love with Rose and as addicted to Swank's writing as I am. You might also find that, like me, you're kind of interested in moving to Henryetta.
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