Is love all that it’s cracked up to be? Does it make you go a bit nutty? Have sour experiences made your heart a tough nut to crack? Okay, okay…okay, I’ll stop with the delightful nut puns (for now) and talk about Cracking Love, Emily King’s debut romance. Janet Webber feels burned out by constant travel and low satisfaction she gets from her new job as a regional pharmacy manager. Newly relocated to a small California town, she chats up an airport shuttle driver and ends up invited to a house party. Mingling and noshing on BBQ, Janet meets other local lesbians and L.A.-based friends of the host couple. However, she only has eyes for walnut & veggie farmer, Gail Lawrence. The two hit it off, but personal baggage gets in the way.
Along the way to love, Gail grapples with deeply rooted issues of mistrust and the prospect of losing clients for her produce. Trust issues arising from past partner infidelity and gold digging college girlfriends creates much of the drama separating Janet and Gail from HEA with each other. Line dancing connects the women to their community, to each other, and to themselves. This is especially true for Janet. It mirrors the steps they learn as they negotiate relationships and careers. Once you figure out the basic step combinations, you can move on to more complex patterns with confidence.
Quick pacing makes this story easy to devour in a sitting or two. I chalked up their expedited pairing to deep thirst for emotional and romantic validation. The intensity of their feelings clashes often with what they want and with their insecurities. Ultimately, Janet and Gail seem to balance each other out. In-between flights for work, tending to crops, and line dancing lessons, there is a lot of steamy bedroom scenes. It’s an enjoyable debut romance, overall. If you’re looking for romance set in small towns, women that work with their hands, midlife career changing magic, and some boot scootin’ boogie, then this just might be up your alley.
Eat with snacks nearby! All the talk of walnut bars and candies had me craving the praline treats I ate in New Orleans last year. I can’t vouch for any of these recipes (yet), but here are a handful of walnut bar and candied walnut recipes I found via Allrecipes.com and Martha Stewart. I wonder if author Emily King has a stash of go-to baking recipes…
- Cherry Walnut Bars & Walnut Cherry Bars
- Maple Walnut Bars
- Applesauce Walnut Bars
- Chocolate Walnut Bars
- Coconut Walnut Squares
- Maple-Candied Walnuts