LIKE PEACHES AND PICKLES
By: Muriel Ellis Pritchett
E-Book, Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Black Rose Writing; 1 edition (December 14, 2017)
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
The university’s selection committee nominates Georgia Davis to become their first woman vice president — a job she’s coveted for more than a quarter century. But the university’s new president, Paul Van Horne, sours her plans by ignoring the committee and hiring Carl Overstreet, his old college buddy instead. In spite of her outrage and better judgment, Georgia begins having romantic feelings for the despicable scoundrel who is now her boss — at least until he fires her. But Van Horne and Overstreet soon learn that a Southern peach like Georgia does not go quietly into the compost bin. And Georgia discovers that revenge can taste as sweet as romance. Like Peaches and Pickles — a deliciously wicked story — will make you laugh, love and cheer for one Southern peach with a pit of steel.https://www.murielpritchett.com/
Right off, I am going to admit something: I think I got confused and clicked on this book as I searched for AIN’T SHE A PEACH by Molly Harper and I click on this, but the premise seemed cute so I began reading it.
Also, the author contacted about the book after I downloaded it and told me
“[I] might be interested in knowing that Like Peaches and Pickles received a Literary Titan Gold Award (January 2018). Also, [she] was invited to present a program and book launch at Barnes & Noble in Athens in February” (Excepted from letter from the author).
I don’t think I have ever been contacted by an author in quite this way, so I googled the award and found it’s granted by a paid review service from among the books submitted to the company for review: https://literarytitan.com/monster-review-service/.
The premise of the book is cute and I had not seen “academia romance” as a sub-genre, so I was interested in this new to me setting for romance.
If you’ve been by the blog much you know I am over fifty. As such I am interested in characters around my age. Most romantic characters over fifty are referred to as “still attractive” or some other euphemism for “not a corpse.’ Pritchett’s fifty-plus heroine is capable, hard-working, loyal to a fault, but inexperienced and naive in many ways. She doesn’t act like she’s ninety the way characters in my age group often do, but, like women of all ages, she does disparage her looks.
However, at fifty-plus someone in Georgia’s position, and with a doctorate, should be much more savvy. That she has spent years since her twenties working in the same office is not conducive to a promotion. A broader base of experience would have been good, especially when there’s been a change at the top. If she is as naive as presented I am amazed the character was able to keep her job.
While the author taught in a college environment and worked as a journalist and PR person, I felt she didn’t present a realistic view of the environment of academia and I thought her main character so naive as to be completely unbelievable. I say it is like Alice in Academia because it felt like the rabbit hole of ALICE IN WONDERLAND with the college campus replacing wonderland and a college president replacing the blood-thirsty queen.
The characters were, generally two-dimensional:
Georgia: one naif, but educated woman who has had worked at the same job for too many years, Paul is a self-serving college president who takes his wife for granted
Carl: The president’s preferred candidate for the PR VP was an alcoholic the president hadn’t seen since college.
The only character I really liked was Eula Mae, Georgia’s sassy mother.
The title, referring to a relationship between two people who are very different, was barely part story. When it became a piece of the plot, I couldn’t understand how and why. It took a lot of time to get to the lover-like relationship and the “love” word was too precipitously applied for any kind of realism. And, at one point an alcoholic refers to being an alcoholic in the past tense and as someone who went to rehab — alcoholics just out of rehab are not likely to refer to themselves thus in the past tense.
I felt the book was padded with too much unnecessary detail. For example, we’re told that college students like restaurants with big portions because of the obvious economy is, well, obvious.
So the premise of office and academic politics around a position is great and an area seriously in need to exploration; attention in fiction may give at least one person permission to stand up and not allow the abuse of power. But I need it to be more realistic to make it compelling.
There are some interesting twists and examples of how far management will go to maintain their own status quo. But to me the 256 pages felt more like 350, and I forced my way through it. I also found the ending incomplete feeling — maybe the set up for a series?
Obviously, I didn’t really cotton on to the book; maybe the Literary Titan award means it was a great book and I should have loved it, but that is just how I felt about it.
Blackrose Publishing: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/romance/likepeachesandpickles