Audio Review: Poppy Dennison – Dogwood Days & Spring Fever

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Author: Poppy Dennison
Reviewer: Sandra
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM Contemporary

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Narrator: Matt Armstrong

Summary:
Dogwood Days
Small-town heroes and big-town hearts.
When Jefferson Lee Davis leaves his life in the big city to return to the small Southern town of Holly Creek, his natural charm soon has the residents eating out of his hand. Jefferson Lee steps up to help with Holly Creek’s biggest festival, Dogwood Days, which puts him directly in the path of the town’s hunky sheriff, Zane Yarbrough. Quirky neighbors, meddling family, and a sassy best friend make Jefferson Lee’s life a full-time adventure, and he warms to the idea of making a home in Holly Creek… a life that might include Zane.

But as the summer Rose Festival looms around the corner and more small-town secrets come to light, Jefferson Lee and Zane must take a long look at their blossoming romance. If they’re going to make it as a couple, they’ll have to work through their trust issues and believe that the relationship they’re building can weather any storm that blows their way.

Spring Fever

Jefferson Lee Davis, Holly Creek’s new Director of Publicity, is gearing up for the next big town event, the summer Rose Festival. The job is running smoothly, but the course of true love has hit a rocky patch. His hunky boyfriend, Sheriff Zane Yarbrough, is receiving mysterious phone calls he doesn’t want to discuss. While Jefferson Lee is blindsided by jealousy, the second shoe drops with the appearance of a handsome stranger in the small tight-knit community. Needing answers, Jefferson Lee enlists his best gal-pal Clover Crofton to help find out what secrets Zane is hiding. When they land themselves in more trouble than Jefferson Lee bargained for, he and Zane face the first big test of their relationship. Zane and Jefferson Lee must work through their trust issues if they’re going to make it as a couple, and Clover may just have a thing or two to learn herself.

Review: Dogwood Days- 2.5 hearts–I’m reeeeeally torn about how to rate this. I love Poppy Dennison and there were components of this that I appreciated. It’s a fun, light, and easy read about a charming little North Carolina town with all the quirkiness and warm-fuzzes of a stereotypical close-knit southern town without any of the negativity and close-mindedness you could possibly encounter. The southern aspect was so present and noticeable that it was almost a character in and of itself, this was both an enjoyable interlude as well as, at times, painstakingly sugary sweet.

I do think that the “enjoyable” part of that was largely due to Matt Armstrong’s twangy narration. Often laid thick (to appropriately coincide with the writing) it was pleasant to listen to. Same as when I listen to any other well accented narration, it had me thinking in that accent frequently throughout the day. It just gets stuck in your head.

The town itself really was so prominent that I honestly felt like the romance took a back seat. That’s not a bad thing per se, just worth mentioning so you know what you’re getting into. The story is really about Jefferson Lee coming to a point in his life where he has two very different paths to choose from. It’s about him rediscovering how much his family, and Holly Creek itself, truly mean to him. And whether family or work is more important, in the long run.

So his romance with Zane seemed like a part of that happiness, but not the main focus. I think if you actually count, Jefferson Lee has more conversations with Clover than he does with Zane. For this reason it was nice, but not earth-shattering. I didn’t feel a strong connection to them as a couple since it sorta came outta nowhere and then didn’t get a ton of attention. I had forgotten what the blurb said so for like the first half of the book I thought that Bo was gonna be the love interest. He was mentioned a few times and then he and Jefferson Lee had one interaction. Then all of a sudden the Sheriff is being pissy that his subtle yet still awkward hints aren’t being picked up, and then all of a sudden Jefferson Lee asks him out?! It felt weird.

But they were sweet, and the one sex scene was good. Although the innuendo-laden banter had me rolling my eyes a few times. But even so, it was the final scene between Jefferson Lee and Zane that made me round up. It was sweet and honest and had me with a gentle smile on my face. Even though the ‘twist’ and resolution weren’t a surprise, it was still sweet and nice to read.

So overall not a favorite story, but definitely a fun little jaunt about a young man finding happiness in a southern town. I’d recommend the audio version, it’s always fun to hear silly southern-isms in an actual southern accent.

Spring Fever-2.5 hearts–I was a little underwhelmed with this, although it isn’t my all-time favorite series and I kinda thought we were moving on to Bo and Jefferson’s friend. I didn’t listen to this directly after Dogwood Days because I needed a break from the sickly sweet southern charm, and that was a good decision. There was still too much empty banter, but she did cut back a little on all the cobbler and sweet tea so that was better.

Overall, there just wasn’t much to this. I guess if you liked the first one then this is a sweet and fun little way to re-visit it. It’s not that it’s bad, I listened to it on my commute and it was a pleasant enough way to pass the time. The narration is still lovely and done well just like with book one. But again, it’s mostly about Jefferson Lee going about his business. There’s a stupid miscommunication and ensuing fight, which actually had me extremely riled up! But it was resolved well and I was appropriately assuaged.

But then it ends on an effen CLIFFHANGER! WTF?!?!? On the one hand, it implies we are gonna get a book for Jefferson Lee’s fireman friend. But on the other hand, that was SO uncalled for! And unnecessary. We don’t actually get any information and there isn’t really peril, But still!

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