Publisher: Sublime Coyote Media
Publication Date: August 15, 2011
Genre: Chick Lit
Take one newspaper columnist; move her from the anonymity of her home city to a sleepy, small town; add a dollop of nosey, suspicious and just plain odd neighbors; a dash of mystery in the form of a stained garbage can and a rodent and, finally, a large pinch of unsettling attraction to a virtual stranger and you’ll find yourself with a recipe that imitates April Patterson’s life.
Sound strange? It is.
April Patterson had no idea that when she decided to follow the path of family and love, she would find herself an unwitting player in an eyebrow raising cul-de-sac mystery, grasping for her privacy as she plays “Dodge the Neighbor” and being forced to examine her relationship motives … all before she had unpacked her last box!
Taking a deep breath, and a large bite into a comforting donut, April consoles herself with the knowledge that it will all work out. It always does … doesn’t it?
I thought I’d step outside of my box a little bit with my Indie Friday pick this week and go for chick lit, something I don’t think I’ve read more than once or twice. I picked Dollars to Donuts because the overly-interested-neighbors angle sounded cute – I have more than my share of those in my own small town!
April Patterson always had dreams of becoming a big-time columnist. Instead, she finds herself in suburban hell, writing about arts and crafts (which she knows nothing about) with a very nice vanilla boyfriend who teaches elementary school. Sure, she loves her boyfriend Kevin, but things haven’t been right with them lately and the neighborhood is driving her crazy. She can’t even leave the house without having to run the gauntlet of wackos straight out of Central Casting.
After having a Very Bad Hair Day involving a home color kit – and any woman knows why that has to be capitalized – April returns home from an emergency fix from her sister’s hair salon to find that Kevin has invited his friend Gerritt to stay with them. It’s the same Gerritt that some girls at the salon had been ooh-ing and aah-ing over and for good reason. He’s tall, dark and lickable – a problem for a woman already having issues with her boyfriend and who lives in a fishbowl.
A silly, fluffy comedy of a mystery ensues. The shrill demon of the neighborhood finds a dead squirrel in her trash and acts like it was a horse head, insisting someone in the neighborhood is after her. There’s the slightly befuddled older lady who butts into everything and has a dog who seems to want to kill April; a retired inventor who adopts a thick Scottish brogue that gets thicker when he wants to annoy people and of course April, Kevin and their houseguest. Deborah the Demon’s go-to response to everything is a piercing scream and everyone’s response to her near nightly summons is funny. The entire case of the dead squirrels made me snort sometimes, just for all of the contortions April and her sister Jessica dragged themselves through so they could figure it out.
This missed an A grade from me because I was a tiny bit uncomfortable with the way Kole decided to handle the relationships between April, Kevin and Gerritt. I dislike books with any kind of cheating in them and while April doesn’t technically cheat, she and Gerritt engage in some heavy-duty flirtation. It’s very cute to read, don’t get me wrong. I was smiling as I read some of it and I had my own ideas about what I wanted April to do. But she was still with Kevin, who didn’t know what was going on. Just because they were having problems didn’t mean they had broken up and they were living together. Gerritt was kind of an ass because he knew the score and he kept pushing at April anyway. It’s awful when they’re gorgeous, funny, sweet and sexy and still asses.
I liked April, mostly because she felt a lot like Everywoman, albeit a little funnier, living in a circus. Her relationship with her sister Jessica was a highlight of the book and I looked forward to their confessional conversations. She still has a big city mindset about certain things which make no sense in a small town which meant laughs, as did her conversations with most of the townspeople who were rude or nosy. She just felt so normal, which was a nice break from what I usually read.
My Summary: For a mid-length book, I read this very quickly because I didn’t want to put it down. Not being familiar with chick lit, I don’t know if it fits the formula or not, but it worked for me just on its own as a good story with some laughs in it and a lesson at the end about being true to yourself. Dollars to Donuts may not be the perfect book for everyone because of the semi-cheating issue or it might be something that can be overlooked but I liked Kole’s style enough that I picked up Breaking Even, one of her other books.