"It’s a formula in which every ingredient has been perfectly measured, and it works... With sparkling wit, Southern charm, and a steady pace, Miss Lilly has hit her stride."– Kirkus Reviews
A disgraced doctor discovers a path to redemption and a chance at true love while serving a medical mission in this romance.
Thirty-two-year-old Cash Stetson feels like a loser. After a scandal involving the sale of stolen body parts from a hospital morgue, he lost his promising career as an emergency room doctor as well as the woman he loves, Lilly Atkins. The one-time golden boy of Brooks, Oklahoma, fled to Texas, but his sojourn has barely begun when he receives the news that Spencer Locke, the man who won Lilly’s heart, has agreed to represent him in his bid to get his medical license reinstated. Reluctantly, Cash returns to Brooks to face his past. At the hearing, the board is convinced that Cash has met the requirements for reinstatement; however, they also believe that his “heart needs work,” so they require him to spend six weeks volunteering as a medical missionary in Mexico. He travels to a hospital in San Miguel where he meets Texan Maggie Craig, a doctor, and his host, Pepper Wylde. As he settles into his assignment, he draws strength from his patients and Pepper’s wisdom. He also forms a friendship with Maggie, whose personal grief and pain mirror his. When he hits rock bottom, he discovers that his new circumstances are a perfect foundation for a renewal of faith and love. The latest from Lloyd (So Many Boots, So Little Time, 2015, etc.) is a winning contemporary romance that gives a memorable character from her MisAdventures of Miss Lilly series the chance to shine. She shows how Cash deals with the fallout from poor choices, and his relationship with Maggie develops at a gradual pace as he learns to let go of his past and face his future. Cash’s past includes the study of European art history, and the narrative is replete with references to real-life artists, particularly Angelina Beloff, a Russian-born painter who lived and worked in Mexico. Although familiarity with the Miss Lilly series may help readers to better understand the relationships between the characters, this installment offers enough backstory to appeal to newcomers.
A gently affecting tale of personal redemption, second chances, and the power of faith.
Lloyd (These Boots Are Made for Butt-Kickin’, 2015, etc.) tells how a tragedy kindled a deeper trust in God.
The author’s first son, Caswell, was stillborn, but she still had to endure a long, difficult labor—including an epidural and having her water manually broken. “This is stupid,” she says, in the jolting opening of this book. “This is stinkin’ 2012 and they haven’t figured out a way to get my dead baby out of my body without making me come to the labor and delivery ward.” Lloyd repeatedly cycles back to the circumstances of the delivery in between memories of her Oklahoma upbringing and of her husband, a fellow attorney, whom she met in Geneva, Switzerland. Her sarcastic, slang-filled Southern drawl pervades the first third of the text, with Lloyd announcing to “future pregnant friends,” “Don’t expect me to come to your baby showers” and labeling herself a “card-carrying member of the suck-it-up club.” The title chapter, however, shifts in tone to note how frequently the Bible mentions joy, and it feels sudden and forced. “Sure, I hearted Jesus,” Lloyd recalls, but Caswell’s stillbirth provoked a make-or-break situation: to survive, she realized that she had to develop a solid faith. Although she later became a mother of two, she learned that stillbirth and miscarriage were surprisingly common in her circle. Indeed, the primary worth of this memoir may be in reassuring readers with similar stories that they’re not alone and that transparency is the best policy: “those children exist. And they need to be acknowledged,” she says at one point. At another, she says, “People can deal. Or not.” Overall, the one- to five-page chapters sometimes resemble blog entries rather than a polished book, and a note of false cheer lingers throughout that detracts somewhat from the tragedy that prompted the writing. However, the chatty, between-girlfriends style (including such phrases as “Oh no she di-int,” “cray-cray,” and multiple hashtags) will appeal to fans of popular Christian writers such as Jen Hatmaker and Patsy Clairmont.
A short memoir that makes for pleasant reading but doesn’t quite strike a balance between snark and Christian optimism.
Lloyd’s (Home Is Where Your Boots Are, 2015) second book in the MisAdventures of Miss Lilly series finds small-town lawyer Lilly Atkins kicking herself after shooting her ex-boyfriend in the foot.
With Cash Stetson in rehab, Lilly might also need therapy to get through a divorce case that brings back unhappy memories of both her cowardly ex-boyfriend and her cheating ex-fiance. Veronica Kellner’s husband is leaving her, and she needs Lilly’s help to secure her children’s inheritance after he’s gone. Soon, Lilly is bruised and bloodied in a series of mishaps—some accidental, some self-inflicted—while she investigates the couple’s secrets. As the danger escalates, Lilly finds that “the best place to find grace is with the people that know all the bad stuff you’ve done.” Lilly is as brazen as ever, and her gaggle of loudmouthed friends ride shotgun as she gossips, trespasses, and steals to get the information she needs while local law officials look the other way. Some clues are laugh-out-loud funny—like the telltale nightie that implicates a woman’s fiance in a crime worse than cheating—and dead bodies are thrown like pies in the face of justice. Lawyer and “former Yankee FBI agent” Spencer Locke, whose uncle Charlie represents Mr. Kellner in the divorce settlement, is powerless to keep Lilly out of trouble when the right side of the law is whatever side she’s standing on at any given moment. Lilly says Spencer is “as bad as Gladys Cobb’s perfume”: “Nauseously permeating and infinitely irritating”—or at least irritating enough to hint at romance without overwhelming the plot. In the previous book, Lilly’s cases piled up on her desk while she cataloged her long history with her hometown friends; in this sequel, each of her new cases feeds into the next until the evidence shows how they are all connected. It’s a formula in which every ingredient has been perfectly measured, and it works. Still, readers who are new to the series could start with this book and quickly catch up.
With sparkling wit, Southern charm, and a steady pace, Miss Lilly has hit her stride.
A down-home attorney becomes an amateur sleuth in this quirky overture to the MisAdventures of Miss Lilly series.
After discovering her fiance in flagrante delicto with his secretary, Lilly Atkins leaves her Dallas law firm behind to start her own practice in her hometown of Brooks, Oklahoma. Though Lilly is a former cheerleading captain, salutatorian, and rodeo queen, she says that “ ‘pretty’ isn’t the right word” to describe herself: “It conjures up images of sweet and soft looks. I’m striking and I stand out.” In rapid-fire Southern drawl, she introduces a head-spinning number of family members and friends, notably a sister with model looks, a bigmouth grandmother with a pacemaker, and an ex-boyfriend, Cash Stetson, who can’t sign his divorce papers fast enough when he sees Lilly. It would be too much exposition if the back stories weren’t so funny. One-liners are let loose as if from a slingshot: “I’d like to buy her for what she’s worth and sell her for what she thinks she’s worth,” says Lilly’s hairstylist about Cash’s wife, Tina. Lilly’s friend Mark Ames is dead, and Ronnie Duvall, the local mortician, needs Lilly to find out who replaced the corpse’s femur with PVC pipe and stole all his fingernails. In order to keep the disturbing news from reaching the police—and Mark’s family—too soon, Lilly and her friend Fae Lynn head to the morgue to investigate. In a small town where everyone is looking (and then looking the other way), gossip trumps police work, with hilarious results. The only person who might foil Lilly’s sleuthing is Spencer Locke, the Yankee nephew of Tina’s lawyer. Lilly is either Spencer’s “worst nightmare” or his next girlfriend. Unfortunately, the big-haired, small-town lawyer has barely shaken the dust off her favorite boots before she and her friends solve the case, which slips away as quickly as the last few grains of sand in an hourglass.
Featuring a heroine worth accompanying home, this brief yet punchy debut begs for a sequel.
It’s raining men for a spunky lawyer-turned-detective in Volume 3 of the MisAdventures of Miss Lilly series.
Months after Lilly Katherine Atkins dusted off her boots and returned home to Brooks, Oklahoma, her cheating ex-fiance, Van Peyton Ehlers, is back in town and up to no good; her high school sweetheart, Cash Stetson, is out of rehab and working at her family’s ranch; and Spencer Locke, the former FBI agent who toils at her mentor’s law firm, won’t stop trying to rescue her. When cattle rustlers strike her family’s ranch, the three men in her life distract her as she tries to round up the culprits with the help of a gaggle of girlfriends. “I’m a terrible rancher’s daughter,” Lilly muses. “I love all the animals like pets. Yes, I eat meat…but it’s hard not to have” a certain fondness “for heifers that will follow you around like dogs.” The drawls are thick and the hair is high, but the characters in this installment are more introspective than cartoonish. Confronted with so many men at once, Lilly has an identity crisis, and many bad hair days and wardrobe choices ensue. Her soul-searching takes on a lightly religious tone—more so than in the previous books by Lloyd (Mo(u)rning Joy, 2015, etc.)—as she turns to her Christian faith for solace. Her family and friends, notably Fae Lynn, who’s now pregnant, also provide the type of homespun wisdom that makes small-town stories so appealing. Long talks over homemade cookies or store-bought cakes that will “do in a pinch” add vivid sensory details, as do the quiet moments when Lilly’s Poppa gives her a reassuring pat on the hand. Meanwhile, a rumored sex tape raises the stakes for Lilly to get Van out of her life for good. Aside from her overuse of the word “allegedly,” the straight-shooting heroine is a good foil for the smarmy lawyer. Cash, who had a certain appeal in the previous novels, now seems like a bad habit that Lilly needs to kick. And Spencer’s levelheaded approach to Lilly’s nonstop drama really starts to work for him. Although Lilly’s sleuthing takes a back seat to her many failed relationships, the final showdown with the cattle rustlers adds excitement to an otherwise emotion-heavy plot.
Charming and heartfelt, this complicated love story delivers a well-developed journey of self-discovery and romance.