Oh my days!! Penny Reid does NOT know how to write a bad book. I fell hook, line and sinker for this duo in Just Folking Around and to now get their full story set FIVE FREAKING YEARS ON...amazing. Whatever your thoughts about Jackson James from reading the Winston Brothers series - FORGET THEM. I adore Rae and love how she grew as a character and a person in this book. I'd totally be her friend! If you're new to Penny's books, start. right. here. If you love the cameos from the likes of Clethus and Jethro Winston then you'll just be diving right into their books straight after the last page of Totally Folked. With characters to love, laugh with and swoon over, this book is definitely one for the favourites pile. I had the paperback ordered way before even finishing!! And special mention to the sneak preview of the next book, Folk Around and Find Out, I so hoped the next book would be about this character!!! Thank you, Penny, for yet another gem of a story and a new Green Valley resident to love!
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4 stars — I’m in a weird reading funk, so I won’t count out that that affected this review. But once I finally gathered my lady bits and just sunk into the book, I was captivated and curious. Part of that was getting to return to a place that I already love filled with people I already love. We got lots of glimpses of Winstons in this book, and they all came and went at just the right time and place so as to add to the story but not take over. I still had a harder time connecting with Rae, but MUCH better than the prequel novella. I just feel like it took me most of the book to really figure out what she was about, and once I did I enjoyed her so much more…and thus I would have preferred to know her earlier, you know? She really was the strange bird that Penny Reid had warned about, but once I got how her upbringing had affected her, I got her better. We got glimpses of this here and there, but I guess I didn’t completely grok all of her until the end. She was so desperate for love, and she deserved it…I was glad to see her developing all sorts of wonderful relationships, not just with Jackson. And then there’s Jackson. I was never a Jackson hater. I was disappointed in him, but I guess I assumed there was a lot going on with him. I think it helped that I got to see him in Zora’s book in the SPRU, and thus see a different side of him. He was so much more than I was expecting in some ways. I loved his sensitive caring soul. I ached for how the events of his life had made their lasting imprint on him. I appreciated getting to see a character who was a dick in their youth still come out all right. I think we forget that people can be jerks and still turn out okay — there are two paths, and Jackson chose the right one…or at least he kept turning until he got onto the right path. He was so freaking black and white, and that really seemed to influence so much about him. It was hard to have a character who had all these good intentions, but was being such a dummy about it by not *talking*. I got it. But it was frustrating at times. I was NOT expecting the chemistry between them to be *this* hot. Wow, when Jackson focused all that attention on Rae…*beep* me sideways it was hot. They had a lot farther to go in the other aspects of their relationship, but I adored the basics of what made up their connection — you could genuinely feel how delighted they were by one another, how easy it was, how free. I loved seeing them banter, it made me smile bigly. I think one of the things preventing me from rating higher is that both Rae and Jackson had to be beat over the heads with lessons. I got it…I got that they needed it spelled out. But it felt…I don’t know. I was missing some subtlety. And as much as I loved what we saw of Jackson, I will admit I wanted more time with him. Maybe I’m just greedy. Outside of the delightful Winstons, there were some other great secondary characters. I really enjoyed getting to see more of Jackson’s parents. And I freaking ADORED Charlotte. I was so glad to see in the sneak peek that she gets the next book. So yeah. I was worried about this book, and I shouldn’t have been. It was delightful and fun and emotional and sexy.
Note: Before reading this book, I would suggest readers get the prequel, Just Folking Around, which will help set up the book's storyline with a huge backstory. Totally Folked is my first read for the author. This author has been on my "must-read" author's list for so long now, but I never got the opportunity until now. I have to be honest to say that I am beyond excited, and although the book's blurb piqued my interest, the whole book got to me - in the most fascinating and can-not-put-the-book-down momentum as early as Chapter 1! This book starts five or so years after Jackson and Rae's first meeting at Just Folking Around. It shows how much "nothing" came about that one supposedly eventful night between Rae and Jackson, or so we thought? What happens next is a series of "lessons" that turned the quiet town of Green Valley, Tennessee, into the next TMZ hotspot! The story is told from Rae and Jackson's POV. The writing is balanced: witty, clever on one end while serious, thought-provoking on another. The author did a fantastic job of imparting emotions and giving readers insight into each dilemma faced by both characters to "make things work." The chemistry between Rae and Jackson transcends beyond physical attraction. They complement each other with Jackson's cool and calm introvert while Rae's the "sunshine and rainbows" extrovert. They have a connection that is the foundation of forever. When Rae and Jackson started comparing their past relationships, readers can expect that they are looking for something "more" at that moment in time. Word of warning: Everything about Rae and Jackson is too H-O-T, not only once but several times! I will never look at ice cream the same again! It is rare for me to get caught up in all the emotions, but this book - each banter, pun, retort, etc. was a looked-forward event. I did not sleep a wink until I finished the book! (Yes, I currently sport "eye-bugs" and am proud of it!) I would mention that I found it very frustrating is that Rae's upbringing - how lost she is in her personal life. I didn't find it amusing and was surprised that Rae would listen to a particular family member who was single and married only to her profession. This particular person chose work over relationships, so why did Rae take everything this person said so heavily that it ruled her subconsciousness. I wanted to shake Rae vigorously and tell her that she needs to find another role model. Yes, I agree that this family member wanted to protect her, but telling her to stay away from relationships and lump relationships as "bad" is not the way to do it. Some people may be okay with this philosophy. Still, Rae's experience with Green Valley and her current Hollywood situation - calls for a different type of support versus assistants, bodyguards, employees, and publicists. Totally Folked is a highly recommended and "finish immediately" kind of book. It is a brilliant start to the series! I love the intimacy that both main characters build on from years of "lessons." Rae and Jackson's connection is what historical love stories are made of and, in this case, told from a current and relevant perspective - learning from mishaps and mistakes. I appreciate the author juxtaposing two different people with two very different backgrounds yet come together and complete each other's missing parts. Although there are many characters whose stories have already happened (Winston Brothers series), this book is an excellent introduction to the author's works - smart romances!
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