The Songbird’s Call by Rachael Herron Book 2 in the Songbird Trilogy
Romance – Contemporary – Smut level: Pretty hot.
Why this book? I have been following Rachael Herron since before she was a published author and was just a somewhat random knitting blogger. I had the opportunity to join her review team and got a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for posting a review (full disclosure).
This is the second book in the Songbird Trilogy series. The Darling Songbirds are a fictional musical trio of sisters –think Dixie Chicks from Bolinas. When we start our story, the band has been broken up for the better part of a decade and the sisters are slowly making their way back to Darling Bay. This book focuses on Molly, the middle sister.
Molly is chunky. Is she actually fat or is she just not super Hollywood thin? I couldn’t really get a picture of her in my head. A lot of Molly’s character is wrapped up in her weight, controlling her weight, people commenting on it, etc. It’s the chain that other people use to yank her around – regardless of their intentions. It’s very definitional for her and I understand that for a lot of women in the US weight is a huge _thing_ in their lives and identity. It’s not in mine. I have a really hard time connecting to contemporary female characters who are weight focused. I hate the propensity in “light” women’s fiction for female characters who are presented as psychologically normal to think about food in a pathological way. Molly knows that she doesn’t have the healthiest relationship with food and her self awareness helps to mitigate how much I was put off by her food talk.
So Molly has come home for Christmas after having been away from Darling Bay for more than ten years. The sisters have inherited a bar with attached hotel and cafe from their uncle. Adele, the eldest sister (and subject of the first book) is running the bar. Molly returns home from working on a cruise ship for six years and decides to re-open the café.
While poking around the abandoned café in the middle of the night she meets Sheriff Colin McMurty when he tries to arrest her and she throws her phone and hits his head.
This almost killed the book for me. It seems like every week I hear about another black person being gunned down by police while doing absolutely nothing wrong and this little bitch (the character) can fucking assault a sheriff and get a date out of it? The fucking privilege of even being able to conceive of this scene in this day and age literally made me nauseous.
To be honest, if I was not committed to writing a review, I would have stopped reading right there.
Now, knowing the author’s background helped me back up a step. She was a 911 dispatcher for more than a decade. Her perception of and relationship to law enforcement as a whole and individual members of LEOs is much different than mine. She was illustrating a side of law enforcement that she has seen and values.
Colin’s big issue is that he is bossy. It’s sort of his job to tell people what to do but it gets in the way of his ability to have functional relationships. His father was also the sheriff and for a guy who doesn’t want to be like his father he sure doesn’t seem to have tried to steer himself very far from the tree. There is a lot of fatalism in Colin that reflects a fatalism in Darling Bay. People from certain families end up in one way or another. It’s part of the small town trope that Herron uses but it’s depressing as fuck to think of all these poor people trapped by destiny.
Not the fun kind either
Molly and Colin feel instant attraction and that’s all very well and good. Because I don’t have a lot in common emotionally with either of them I had a hard time connection with their conflict. Colin’s bossiness, which is a deal breaker for Molly, wouldn’t be for me. Molly’s internal journey felt very jerky. They dance around each other. Or really, Colin sort of boils in his own skin and Molly weebles until they come together.
The lead up to the climax felt like it was tacked on, or maybe it was the start that was tacked on to the climax. Everything is moving along with Molly and the café and then BAM! She decides to start a second, far larger, far more ambitious project and it was jarring. I thought “Where the fuck did that come from? You can’t do both of these things!”
Spoiler: You are not going to start and run a national domestic abuse assistance hotline and website within six months of starting your own restaurant business.
It really felt as though Herron was trying to fulfill her theme of each sister running part of the old family business and at the same time create huge stakes for Molly and Colin to come together over. It didn’t work for me. Either Molly is a small town woman who had some time being larger than life but was fine going back to where she started or she is fully embracing that she is a world renowned music star and goddamnit she’s going to use her powers for good.
I think she might have used this while writing…
Wrap Up: There are one of two laugh out loud moments but this was not Herron’s best effort.