Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Review: Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson
Fools Rush In (Weddings by Bella #1)
By: Janice Thompson
About the book:
Bella Rossi’s life is just starting to get interesting. When her Italian-turned-Texan parents hand over the family wedding-planning business, Bella quickly books a Boot-Scootin’ wedding that would make any Texan proud. There’s only one catch – she doesn’t know a thing about country music. Where will she find a deejay on such short notice who knows his Alan Jackson from his George Strait? And will Bella ever get to plan her own wedding?
Fun, fresh, and full of surprises, this flavorful combination of Italian and Tex-Mex highlights the hilarity that ensues when cultures clash.
When Bella Rossi was a child, her very Italian, New Jersey-based family relocated to Texas – Galveston to be exact – where her uncle opened an authentic pizzeria and her parents opened a wedding planning facility, named after her. Now she finds herself running the family business and attempting to expand the customer base by offering exclusive, elaborately themed weddings. Only with her first big booking for a “boot-scootin’ wedding,” Bella may have gotten in way over her head. Coming from a family rich with an appreciation for Italian cuisine and fanatical about the music of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Andrea Bocelli, country music and Texas-style barbeque are outside the realm of her expertise, to say the least. Bella’s salvation comes from an unexpected quarter – a gorgeous, blue-eyed, very country cowboy named D.J. who, after a comic misunderstanding involving his name, finds himself knee-deep in Rossi family shenanigans and Bella’s attempts to prove she’s a capable businesswoman.
I absolutely love pop standards, so when I heard about a novel named after one of the classics by Johnny Mercer, I was immediately intrigued. Of course in my view, Frank Sinatra’s version is the winner – so I found myself STRONGLY identifying with Bella’s Aunt Rosa in regards to her fanatical Sinatra appreciation. Bella and her family’s love for classic pop singers is just one of the novel’s charming points; in fact, each chapter bears the name of a classic song, and seeing how the title ties to the chapter content is quite fun. Fools also features one of the quirkiest, most likable casts of characters you’d care to meet – think My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s family dynamics with a healthy dose of Return to Me’s Italian flavor. There’s one aspect of Bella’s life that I’d love to see better drawn in subsequent books. Having read one or two other wedding-themed novels in recent months, I went into this book expecting greater detail about the “nuts and bolts” aspect of Bella’s wedding planning business. I had a little trouble buying the fact that Bella was basically planning her first “make it or break it” event in about two weeks time. So professionally speaking she comes across as a little, um, slapdash, though well-meaning. However, given the offbeat, quirky tone of the book I was able to ultimately set aside that qualm relatively quickly.
With her first “Weddings by Bella” novel, Thompson has delivered a fast-paced, breezy read that’s quite simply one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in recent memory. I can’t remember the last time I’ve smiled so much when reading a book! After all, it’s a rare thing to come across a novel where the characters are as fanatical about Sinatra and pop standards as I am. The spiritual thread is also very well integrated into the storyline. Faith is such a natural extension of these characters’ lives that it never comes across as heavy-handed or too preachy. And D.J. – well, he’s one of the most adorable, swoon-worthy heroes EVER. Witnessing his Texas-country meets Italian culture shock is hilarious, but he handles it like a pro (I love cowboys…I just felt the need to throw that out there ;-)). I’m definitely looking forward to reading Bella and D.J.’s further adventures…if they ever get around to planning their own wedding, I can only imagine the Texas-Italian hilarity that will ensue! Book #2, Swinging On a Star, releases in January 2010.
Side note: Kudos to the cover design team and publisher for finding the perfect character images for Bella and D.J. D.J. in particular exactly matches my mental image of him from reading the book - they absolutely nailed it!