Something To Talk About (Plum Orchard #2)
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Emmeline Amos has had to deal with being seen as prissy her whole life. Her mother has always kept a very tight rein on her, making sure that Em was a good girl brought up with Christian values. No engaging in any behaviour that might be seen as unseemly and attract the attention of the gossips in their small southern town. Recently Em has thrown all caution to the wind: she’s quit her job as a lawyer’s assistant and has taken a job managing a phone sex company, working for her best friend Dixie. Ever since Em’s soon-to-be ex-husband’s proclivities were made public recently, Em has been struggling to keep herself and her two young boys from being gossip fodder. Working for a sex company isn’t the best way to do that but Em needs the money and it pays well. She never takes calls…
Until she is dared to on a rare girl’s night out. Em takes a call but to her surprise, it’s a 6yo girl on the other end of the phone, wondering if this is where she can help her father find a girlfriend. Em gently counsels the girl that this probably isn’t the best place but then the irate single dad gets on the line, giving Em an earful for talking to a child. It’s even worse when Em finds out that the dad is none other than Jax Hawthorne – she shared one, long blazing look with him just before her ex-husband was outed in front of most of the town.
When they meet again, there’s no denying that the chemistry from that look is still there. But Em’s dealing with her ex-husband and her boys are her first priority and Jax has his own problems. They make a bargain to indulge in a purely physical affair, sneaking off when they can to somewhere isolated. Em only knows what’ll happen if word gets out that she’s entertaining a man and Jax has his daughter to consider as well. But what starts as purely physical….is quite hard to keep that way. But with both of them assuming the other is happy with their arrangement, it’s going to be difficult to take it to that next level.
Something To Talk About is the second novel in the Plum Orchard series following on from Dixie’s story in Talk Dirty To Me. Readers were introduced to Em in Dixie’s book and got a very good handle on her character through her growing friendship with Dixie and then her humiliation when an enemy announced to the town in general just what her husband liked to get up to in his private time. Em now works for Dixie managing the phone sex company, which is very profitable although she doesn’t take calls. The other girls rib her good naturedly about her prissiness and tired of being seen that way, Em vows to take a call. It kind of backfires on her though but at the same time, it puts events in motion that lead to her and Jax making their arrangement.
Wow this town bugs the crap out of me. I’ve heard plenty about small Southern towns and this one seems to play on every rumour and stereotype. Busybodies who don’t know how to mind their own business, overt religious and social pressure and the whole “Southern belle” thing taken to extremes. I like reading about characters like Dixie and Em who do their best to buck the trend and live their lives without trying to conform. Although Dixie wasn’t always likable, she’s more palatable as a supporting role in this book. At times Em is too pure-sounding good to be true but she has her moments of flashy feistiness. I loved the chemistry between her and Jax (even in their brief encounter in the previous book it was white hot) and I loved Jax’s backstory. I found it really interesting and it did a lot to flesh him out as a person. I loved the inclusion of his brothers which is good as one of them is the “hero” in the third novel, Talking After Midnight. That was the book I originally wanted to read before I knew it was #3 in a series and I read the first 2 just so I could read that one. I think I made the right choice because this is a world that grows and evolves and it’s very connected so previous characters are always going to play a role. I can’t wait to learn more about Marybell.
I feel as though this one is an improvement on the first book, perhaps because I liked both of the characters a lot more. In the first I found both Dixie and Caine irritating at times but Jax and Em were quite different. I sympathised with both of them, single parents in unusual situations and trying to do the best they can but also wanting something for themselves. I felt so sorry for Em’s kids and thought that most of the town needed a good smack for encouraging the sort of gossip that led to 8 and 5yo boys being picked on and beaten up. Even Em’s own mother says terrible things about her in front of her children, something that should be utterly unforgivable, especially as they’re not even true. I’m not sure what comes out in the end is a good excuse and Em does take her to task over it but it does seem a bit too little too late.
Book #106 of 2014