It’s Jane Porter month for me. I’m a lucky woman because I have had the privilege of reading a galley copy of Jane’s newest contemporary fiction novel, She’s Gone Country, which won’t be released nationally until next month, and it only took me 4 days to finish it!
She’s Gone Country is the story of 39-year-old Shey Lynne Callen Darcy, best friend of Tiana Tomlinson from Easy On The Eyes and Marta Zinsser from Odd Mom Out, both being books that I liked considerably more than this one because I liked the heroines more. Shey is a former professional New York City model: tall, slim, long blond hair – a typical Texan beauty with a very atypical and decidedly un-storybook life.
Shey has just found out that her husband of 17 years and the father of her 3 sons, Hank, Bo, and Cooper, is gay, and has chosen his lover Erik and his true path over her and the boys. So she’s moved them back home to Parkfield, Texas where she sets up housekeeping in the family’s ranch and reconnects with her Southern Baptist Mama who worries constantly about her immortal soul; her oldest brother Brick and his perfect wife Charlene and their family; and her middle brother Blue and his dysfunctional, alcoholic wife Emily and their family. Her youngest brother Cody has committed suicide after years of battling a bipolar disorder and Shey is desperately trying to save her middle son Bo, who is suffering from depression, from the same tragic path. Meanwhile, Shey’s childhood sweetheart – professional bull-riding champion and rodeo all-star – Dane Kelly, is now single, although estranged from her brothers, who were once his best friends; and much to Shey’s chagrin, still cemented firmly in her affections, mind, body and soul.
As with all Jane Porter’s novels that I’ve read, this is another enjoyable chick lit (actually this one is more Mom Lit) story with a strong, beautiful, successful woman who is trying to cope with massive changes in her once perfect life and rediscover the inner strength that made her who she was in the first place. I liked Shey Darcy, but I didn’t love her. Through much of the novel she just seemed plain desperate when it came to her relationship with Dane and the way she endlessly repeated how much she loved him, needed him, wanted him, over and over and over again, just made my eyes roll. A tad bit of overkill, I’d say. He is indeed a big, handsome, rugged, golden haired, green-eyed cowboy, and he’s also a lot more complex than he appears. Dane is an interesting character and I thought he was the most real and accessible male hero that Jane has written about so far.
In She’s Gone Country, Jane Porter explores the often difficult and challenging decisions that a mother of boys has to face. Shey has her hands full with Hank (15), Bo (14), and Cooper (12), and although she loves them more than life itself, she’s almost at her wits’ end with trying to juggle her issues, their issues, and what her new life now has in store for her. Shey is not always admirable, but she is authentic, and by the predictable end of the book, I liked her more than I did at the beginning. It takes that long to get to know her and what she’s really made of. She is often described as smart, strong, and sassy, but we didn’t see that side of her for much of the story. Hold out for the character development though because it’s worth the wait.
“I nod, even as I am awash with conflicting emotions – anger, shame, guilt, frustration, regret.
I should have been on top of this. I should have been aware that he was not turning his work in. I should be paying more attention.
But even as the shoulds pile up, I feel a stab of resentment. I do pay attention to him. Every day I ask him about his work. I’m not an absent parent. I pick him up from school and am there at home when he returns from school. I’m around, available, accessible. And he’s nearly fifteen. Shouldn’t he start being responsible for himself?”
Ultimately, Shey discovers that not only are the men in her life, her heart, but that girls are where it’s at (not just country-loving girls either) because they rock! Yes we do. We really do. So when you need to be reminded of this, all you have to do is pick up a Jane Porter, from-the-heart, emotional-but-feel-good, contemporary fiction novel and you’ll find the affirmations you were looking for.