My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Love Overdue Love Overdue was another wonderful tale of small-town from Pamela Morsi that she does SO WELL, be it Historical or Contemporary. I’ve been appreciating Pam’s writing more and more as I read her new books because she’s just that good! However, it was going to be a 4+ read... but it was not. I’ll try to elaborate as I go.
A smart and brilliant (even if devotedly unsexy) girl, Dorothy or D.J. (as she goes by generally) moves into the small-town of Verdant on a hot summer day to start anew. She has a job of her dreams, of the librarian of this town. A job offered to her so suddenly that she thought this must be THE time to look for a fresh start. D.J.’s an orphan, her parents passing away long ago. Her only family, it seems, is a cute black terrier named Mr. Dewey or Dew. She falls for this seemingly sleepy town on spot. Being the ever active girls she is, D.J. decides to swing by the library first. But, to her dismay, it seems that the place has been neglected for a long time. She starts meeting the town’s quirky characters from there, such as an employee of the library who works on the stack named James; a guy with some form of autism who doesn’t come out and doesn’t like talking to people at all. D.J. also meets the acting librarian, Amelia Grundler and feels her barely leashed wrath for being ousted by an outsider. She immediately feels that this woman would be a trouble on her a$$ for sure, which Amelia very predictably is throughout the story.
Then a breezy character enters the library, a member of the board of directors, Mrs. Sanderson. This is the woman who has hired D.J., who is quite happy to see her. Then Mrs. Sanderson, or Viv, breaks the news; D.J. will have to live with her. She insists that D.J. does! Not wanting to hurt and offend the cheery elderly woman, D.J. gives in, though she plans to move out as soon as she finds her own place. But then, she views the two-story Sanderson house and D.J. falls in love with its homey, welcoming look. Viv, meanwhile, keeps chattering away about her husband, who passed away about a year ago and about her two grown up children; a son named Scott and a daughter, married and moved away, Leanne. D.J. likes knowing about these things and Viv, because she has essentially been lonely all her life. A family was something she craved but never had. Her elderly parents never warmed up to her or loved her for that matter. D.J. craved the attention. It seems Dew also has taken a liking to the woman. After sometimes, D.J. begins settling in the house. Viv can’t sing enough praise of her only son, who is also the town’s only pharmacist, taking after his father’s occupation. Scott is the perfect son for her. But sadly, he has been divorced a few years ago. He lives in his own house and visits from time to time.
Then we meet Scott. He’s a charming fellow, handsome and tall with a good heart. He takes life in stride, trying not to let it get the best of him. Everybody likes him, even his ex-wife and her partner! In this small-town, where everything is everybody’s business, Scott’s divorce made quite a big drama, seeing how his marriage was the biggest the town has ever seen. Scott had been dating this girl, Stephanie, since his adolescent. This girl is one of the most beautiful ones in Verdant and they made the perfect pair. What Scott, with his little experience, didn’t know that Stephanie is a lesbian. She was embarrassed about coming out and their relationship started going downhill after a while. Scott is not a womanizer. He didn’t know how he could improve whatever is wrong with his relationship. He immediately thought that it might be the sex because Stephanie was not responsive to his touches. And so, on one spring break, he took a chance on fate. He found a sexy girl close to his age and goes wild for one night. This girl, whom he has called ‘Sparkle’ ever since because they never exchanged their identity and because she was wearing this sexiest sparkly bikini top, has been on his mind always. That one night was a revelation of sort; Scott finally knew that sex can be out of the world if it’s with the right person. And that there’s nothing wrong with him. Even though his gut feelings warned him that something in his relationship isn’t right, Scott, ever the nice guy, felt that he made a promise to his girlfriend and needed to see it through. But the marriage didn’t even last for a year and she moved in with another woman of the town, with whom she’s been cheating on him on and off. A hurt and frustrated Scott then had a secret affair with a married woman (I didn’t like knowing this at all) but he bowed out of that because that was not the kind of relationship he genuinely craved for.
It’s been around 5 years after that, Scott has mostly been celibate (or so I surmised). He works clockwise, serving the steady stream of people in his pharmacy, visits with his mother, takes part in the Wheat harvest and generally has a great time. However, he also wants companionship; least of all, sex. He’s recently been contemplating on getting a girlfriend and there is more than one interested candidate, like a divorcee named Jeannie. But Scott is not that interested in her. He also spends a lot of time with his childhood friend Amos. Amos is a retired soldier, returned from Afghanistan. And he has PTSD. The experience of war changed him so much that no one knows if Amos would ever be his old self and would ever feel anything. He also lives alone and works at the library’s bookmobile. We also meet Suzy, another library employee who drives the bookmobile too. She’s THE town-gossip but also a big cheer-girl for D.J.
Suzy and Amos help D.J. out on her first few days. James also, in his own way, shows that he approves of her. The library, it seems, is quite the challenge but D.J. is more than ready to take up on that. Even people like Amelia can’t quash her wish of settling in here! A place she can finally call home. But there is one problem. A ‘mistake’ she made 8 years ago, a mistake that was her one wild night (and nothing remotely close ever happened to her afterwards), when she lost her virginity to this stranger, comes back to haunt her. Out of the blue, a few days into her stay at Viv’s, D.J. finds out that Hot Guy (as she called him) is no one other than Scott! But is it worse that he doesn’t recognize her at all? D.J. is at first dumbfounded, then surprised. Her surprise gives into a sort of relief, then it transformed into a kind of anger too. Thank god he doesn’t remember me! It’d be awkward to live with him when he’s so near (and the fact that I’m still SO HOT for him) … How dare he doesn’t remember me? My wildest night ever! This is probably something he does so often that I’m just one of many- such were D.J.’s thoughts. It got worse when she met Scott’s jealous ex-lover once who made it a point to insinuate half-truths and lies. Then, when she hears of a cheating in Scott’s marriage (and surprisingly, no one explains whose fault it was), D.J. got the impression that Scott is a disgusting womanizer who cheated in his marriage, also had affairs with married women. No wonder he doesn’t remember her!
D.J. begins feeling awful, not being able to stand Scott at all. Viv’s blatant attempts of throwing them together were only making it bad. On the other hand, Scott doesn’t understand why the new librarian is so cranky around him. She feels vaguely familiar but Scott, for the love of him, can’t remember where he has seen her. Her drab, yet pristine clothing, no make-up and tight bun don’t give him any kind of recognition and yet, Scott feels that he’s somehow attracted to her. Scott loves his mother but is exasperated by her attempts. I mean what can happen with a woman who can’t stand the sight of him? Scott completely brushes the idea aside.
But Viv, she has a plan; a very carefully laid out plan. A plan that materialized from a visitation from her beloved John, a thorough investigation and doing just the right thing to make two people see that they belong to each-other. It might sound loco to anyone now, but when Viv’s done with them, they’d be thanking her for it for the rest of their lives. A mother’s gotta do what a mother’s gotta do and all that...
As time passes, D.J. begins to know her surroundings and learning the ways of a small-town. Her focus on the plans and improvement of the library provides her some kind of distraction. Meeting new people does that too, and yet, she can’t but think about what happened 8 years ago in South Padre Island. Same goes for Scott. Both discover that they are still hot for the stranger they slept with. For D.J., it’s worse because she now knows who it is. For Scott, it’s odd that he begins having the flashbacks again. Then we know that Sparkle has been in his imagination in all his former relationships. It’s her that ignited his blood, her thoughts still does.
We also see the flashbacks told from both Scott and D.J.’s POVs. Those were somewhat confusing and distracting, as they seemed like the cutouts from a movie; you have to make your assumptions of what happened more or less. Even then, whatever was hinted at, there was no doubt how unforgettably hot their night together was. I felt so frustrated not knowing exactly what happened (my imagination ran wild but not quite)! It had that kinda affect on me.
Soon Wheat harvesting was going to start. The town is buzzing with all sorts of activities, like they’re preparing for some kind of festival. D.J. was also getting closer to Scott who was now staying at his mother’s because of a ‘mishap’ that happened in his house and made it inhabitable. Well, you just have to read to find out exactly why I put mishap in quote because Viv is VERY determined to get these two together. I liked how their relationship evolved from awkward to friendly to something warmer. Scott is such a charming, all around good guy that D.J. can’t help but fall a little every day. Even her mantra that he’s a womanizing piece of a$$ wasn’t working. She gradually figures out this can’t be true for a guy like Scott. But D.J. is not ready to tell him what he needed to remember. For Scott, he made a connection of sort with her and Sparkle but he thought he’s feeling this way because Sparkle was such a part of his past and D.J. is most certainly a part of his present; a part he’d like very much to explore. Frustratingly enough he never made the real connection until the very end. Even then it was another frustration. Will tell you why in a bit.
So it is revealed that the town somewhat shuts down for the harvest. But D.J. is determined to keep the library open. A first to be sure because no one ever really gave a damn about the library before now. It’s also because D.J. has a really big and complicated plan to rearrange the library. It’s going to take a lot of time, man and will power to get it done but D.J. is thrilled, feeling uplifted. Even though James becomes a little edgy about the change, he begins to co-operate after sometimes. He’s the best person to work on the stacks and D.J. is hoping for his neat and reliable stack work. He’s no idiot but his condition doesn’t allow him to comfortably co-exist with sudden changes. D.J. understands but this is needed to be done for better lighting and so on.
I thoroughly enjoyed the myriad of descriptions in [b:Love Overdue|17348319|Love Overdue|Pamela Morsi|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1372089716s/17348319.jpg|24089046], be it the town in general, its odd characters or just the wheat fields and its history that are such a big part of the town’s existence. I loved EACH scene that contained James, making me want to read his story (he reminded me so much of Jesse). I loved the description of the town abuzz with the wheat harvest and all that goes with it. I loved reading D.J.’s emotional connection with that lonely, plain looking little girl, Ashley who reminded her so much of herself. Loved that Amos was finally coming back to ‘life’ and falling for Jeannie, who was giddy like a school girl over the him, something that hopefully will help her get over her bad marriage and subsequent divorce. And, I loved the scenes that had Viv and her nostalgic reminiscence of the days gone by, especially of her John and her monologues while tending to his grave. Those brought tears to my eyes, reading her confessions of how lonely she’s gotten after losing the love of her life. Those were simply heartbreaking.
I also loved how Scott was getting closer to D.J. and shared his thoughts or something so precious like his father’s wisdom, as if he’s inviting her to open up and letting him in. D.J. felt that too, especially on that scene at the twilight, sitting on a field still full of wheat, where Scott tells her a lot about himself. D.J. begins to feel the need to rely on him. It’s just so easy to fall in love with a guy like Scott!
“They stood up and the world was totally different. The wheat was an onyx sea, ever moving in shadow. Above it the heavens were illuminated with the wink of stars and planets, the Milky Way like a giant streak of glimmer slashing across the sky.
She was standing right next to him, awed by the beauty of the night sky and their tiny, tiny place in it. It seemed perfectly natural that he leaned down to gently press his lips to her temple. It wasn’t a kiss really, it was a consolation.
“Take my hand,” he said.
D.J. could see nothing as he unerringly led her through the darkened grain to the edge of the field.”
She has erected this prudish, reserved persona over the years because of a life without love and affection; always craving what she never had. Now D.J. doesn’t know if she can open up to that extent or if she can actually trust Scott with herself, or her heart.
But the temptation is great, proving more tempting with each ticking seconds. Afterwards, they just had to have a date of sort, just to see how things go. And even though they don’t go much further, Scott and D.J. couldn’t seem to keep their hands off of each-other. It was a given that they’ll further explore this thing between them. D.J. decides to tell Scott of their one night so long ago because he deserves to know... soon. I was eagerly, impatiently waiting for that scene when the confrontation is finally here and maybe, a super sexy repeat performance of that night.
Unfortunately, that ‘soon’ doesn’t arrive because the next we find D.J. in the hospital, wounded from a snake-bite. It’s Scott who rushes out half naked to take her there. He was panicking inside but his training got him through it calmly as if nothing happened. As D.J. begins to heal, Scott demonstrates a gesture of his love for her (it couldn’t have been anything else!). I grinned broadly when the whole town showed up at his request, to help him in this endeavor. That just melted me because I knew D.J. was going to love it!
Then we see Viv is over the moon to find that at last, her plan has succeeded marvelously. She and Dew has become great friends, so much so that Dew spends more time with her than D.J. But I didn’t like what happens next. One was, Viv’s plan of committing suicide. You’ll find the bits and pieces of oddities throughout the story that leads to this thing. She had an idea that since John is no more and Scott is finally settling in, she has no purpose for living. I DID NOT like reading what she was planning and her crazy monologues to the dog.
Something she ultimately doesn’t...
Finally, when D.J.’s back home (Sanderson house is now undoubtedly her home), there is one scene as Scott takes her to her room. D.J. was already overwhelmed from Scott’s ‘gesture’ for her, feeling that she needs to reveal the truth. Then Scott accidentally trips some stuff in her room and finds something quite unique; a link to that night that no one but he and D.J. knew about…
And bammm! We’re transported 8 years later and to an epilogue with HEA. My reaction was pure ‘WTF????’!! No confrontation, not words-exchange, no declaration of love... certainly no sexy repeat performance of that night. It was so SO frustrating, can’t even explain! I didn’t want to imagine anything, damn it! I needed to read that scene word for word and savor it. It was the whole point of the build-up... and then, there was nothing. Though I give it that I loved the epilogue, I was still very unhappy about it. I thought that pages of the descriptive scene of Viv’s supposed suicide was plain unnecessary. I’d rather read that confrontation!
Love Overdue would be a 4+ star for me had I not been disappointed at the end. But I still recommend it to anyone who wants a genuinely heartwarming story with great writing, if not for the useful information regarding the life of a librarian (when she’s not fantasizing over the sexy pharmacist that is! Lol). 4 stars.
This ARC was provided to me by Harlequin MIRA via netgalley which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.