|I didn't just want to like this book; I wanted to love it. I really did. It has a great title, an irreverent synopsis and promising plot. So, where did it all go wrong?
The plot starts off strong. Kelsey Schaeffer returns home for a visit only to find that her former dream-boy Sam MacInnes is back in town. As a teenager, mousy little Kelsey was the town good girl, except in her diary in which she explicitly described her not-so-innocent fantasies. Fantasies which centered on Sam, the boy who didn't even know she existed. Now Sam is refurbishing the house where the old diary is hidden. What's a girl to do?
Distract him anyway she can, is Kelsey’s philosophy. And if that fails, one can always break and enter. The only problem is that undercover cop Sam is not so easily fooled. He quickly uncovers Kelsey's dirty little secret and is obviously intrigued. The fetching blonde pastry chef cooked up some naughty little fantasies as a teen, so the woman has to be worth investigating, right?
Sadly, the story doesn't live up to the premise. It's boring and lacks the whimsy one expects to find due to the title and book jacket. The main characters are both dour and fail to find humor in their situations.
Considering the subject matter - the sexual fantasies of a repressed
teenager-one would expect a bit of humor. Instead both characters continue to take themselves way too seriously, thus making them very hard to relate to.
Furthering the story's problems is a small town setting that doesn't add anything. As part of a series called “Going Home,” the town should inspire the reader to revisit it again and again. Maple Mountain, Vermont doesn't. It is as unremarkable as every character in the book. Confessions could have been set in any town in the U.S. and still have played out the same.
The slow pacing of the book doesn't help either. Flynn quickly wraps up the diary subplot, but then fails to give the story additional direction. It seems that the conflict with Kelsey's mother (who doesn't feel the girl has a future in such a small town) is supposed to be the central plot point, but it isn't enough to keep the story focused. The characters struggle with small issues, but never really overcome any one thing together. They never prove to the reader that they love each other or can succeed as a couple.
By the end of the story we are supposed to believe that Sam has changed. That he, a former workaholic who had no problem going undercover for over a year, has suddenly become the perfect family man. Only we never see this, and neither does Kelsey. Sure, she sees the physical scars left on his body, but they only once discuss the psychological effect of this, and then only briefly. The reader isn't shown that Sam understands what he's missed by devoting himself to his work, instead the author chooses to have this happen off canvas and the reader is only told about it. Therefore, it isn't believable.
Confessions of a Small-Town Girl isn't a bad story. It has a nice mother/daughter dynamic that adds to Kelsey's character growth. Kelsey learns to stop living to please other people and to follow her own dreams, which is a great message. It's just that sometimes, sadly, a great message equals a mediocre story.