Summary: Shey Darcy, a 39-year-old former top model for Vogue and Sports Illustrated led a charmed life in New York City with a handsome photographer husband until the day he announced he'd fallen in love with someone else. Left to pick up the pieces of her once happy world, Shey decides to move back home to Texas with her three teenage sons. Life on the family ranch, however, brings with it a whole new host of dramas starting with differences of opinion with her staunch Southern Baptist mother, her rugged but overprotective brothers, and daily battles with her three sons who are also struggling to find themselves. -- Five Spot
I like Jane Porter and I've read and enjoyed many of her books! I always find that I quickly get caught up in her novels and sometimes I can even relate to a character or two. Ms. Porter's latest release is SHE'S GONE COUNTRY, and while it wasn't my absolute favorite of her novels, I still ended up enjoying it a great deal.
SHE'S GONE COUNTRY tells the story of Shey, an ex-model and mother of three boys. After her brother dies and her husband leaves her for a man, she decides to leave New York City and returns home to a small Texas town. Shey must deal with her mother, her two brothers, her three sons as well as an ex-flame. Overall, it's a fun story about Shey re-discovering herself!
I did enjoy this novel but I wouldn't go so far as to say that I loved it. Shey was a likable enough character, as was her love interest Dane; however, I just didn't find myself relating to her. I mean...she was an ex-Sports Illustrated model and she actually chose to go back home and live on a ranch -- not exactly my world! I think had I related to her character a bit more (as I have done with some of Ms. Porter's other characters), I would have better appreciated this book. When I'm reading this genre -- women's fiction or even chick lit, I think it's important for the character to resonate with me. (Either that or be so utterly ridiculous that I'm just entertained by her behavior.)
What I did like about this book is that it was about a woman and a mother who was approaching her 40s -- "mom lit" if you will. Even though Shey was still beautiful enough to do the occasional modeling job, she was first and foremost a mother. So much of this novel dealt with Shey and the relationships she had with her three sons. She had three very different children ranging in age from pre-teen to full-fledged teenager, and she faced very different issues with each of them (including severe depression and bullying.) Her concerns about raising children who were lazy and self-centered definitely resonated with me (and most likely will with many moms out there.) And, I just loved that Shey realized that sometimes the best love that you can give your children is letting them follow their own dreams!
In addition to Shey's parenting role, she also was a single woman who still had a hankering for her childhood crush. Ms. Porter does a fabulous job of creating the sexual tension between the characters -- I could just picture Dane in his Wranglers!!! I liked that she also made Dane a "real" character with flaws and baggage rather than just a one-dimensional love interest. Despite his hero status as a national bull-riding champ, Dane had experienced some real world tragedies that made his character complex. I couldn't help but really, really like Dane!
Overall, I liked the way this book ended even though it was a little bit predictable, and I enjoyed sharing Shey's journey to rediscover herself. Not all of the issues in the story were resolved with a nice neat bow, but overall I feel that Shey has finally found happiness and peace in her life. She realized many important lessons about living and letting go, and I did feel that the book left me with a hopeful feeling.
I think there is potential for SHE'S GONE COUNTRY as a book club selection -- if your group is in the mood a lighter read. Mothers of sons as well as single moms will appreciate some of the trials that Shey faces. In addition, I think anyone who has ever tried to "go back" home will relate. There is a reading guide available which poses some interesting questions. Some of the topics you might want to further explore include mother/daughter relationships, depression, first love, sibling relationships, parenting problems, loss and grief.
While SHE'S GONE COUNTRY wasn't my favorite Jane Porter novel, I still found it a worthwhile read. I recommend this novel if you are looking for a light and fun book that deals with parenting and romantic love!
Thanks to BookSparks PR for providing a review copy of this book.