Something to Prove - A Magnolia Beach Novel, Book 1
By Dorine Linnen
Dec 5, 2015 - 3:23:32 PM

Helena Wheeler, best known as "hell on wheels" to her hometown of Magnolia Beach, Alabama, is forced to return home when her grannie is hospitalized. Helena hires the town's sports-star-turned-handyman, Ryan Tanner, to help with improvements to Grannie's house to better accommodate her rehabilitation. Ryan is also Magnolia Beach's mayor and has had a crush on Helena since high school.

Helena expects to get Grannie situated and go back home to Atlanta as soon as possible without interacting much with the townspeople who still hold a grudge for her many misdeeds. She doesn't expect to fall for the town's golden boy while spending so much time with him. Ryan doesn't care what anyone thinks about Helena because he clearly recognizes that she has changed. But Helena is sure that getting involved with her will hurt his chances of being reelected as mayor. Can the town's triumph and the town's troublemaker convince everyone, including themselves, that they're perfect for one another?

Although this story is typical in many ways when it comes to small town scenarios, it's not all sweetness and helpfulness at first when it comes to Helena. She doesn't exactly enthuse the residents to come to her aid or get giddy over a reunion. Helena is pretty much an outcast and made to seem even more so by her nonchalance about anyone actually caring about her then or now. It helps a lot that everyone in town adores her Grannie and gives Helena a second chance because of their respect for the woman who raised her.

I had a hard time enjoying Helena's character. She grew on me by the end of the novel but she was a bit too hardened by her small town past and down on herself in general for me to feel a connection. Ryan was the typical small town football hero who is used to everyone's approval. When Helena seems to be able to walk away from him without a backwards glance after becoming intimate, Ryan is more than a little shook up. Helena has this man in a tither and it's painful to watch because Ryan is a nice guy and so not deserving her rancor. I guess it took me just as long as some of the town members to warm up to Helena. In the end, this novel has some good emotion and I was pleased with the conclusion.

I was attracted to this story because of my love of Alabama coastal towns. There wasn't as much detail in this novel as I had hoped to make me feel as if I'm there again, but it was enough to give the novel some atmosphere. I'm hoping for more in the next book since this one concentrated heavily on the friendships of the past and new ones forming that will affect the series.

SOMETHING TO PROVE is an unusual small town contemporary romance with a bad girl coming home for a reunion with all the people who thought she'd never amount to anything. It's an interesting twist. I enjoyed Helena's gradual revelations about all the naughty things she did when she was a teenager. Some of them were pretty funny. I adored Helena's relationship with her best friend from high school, who is now the town's veterinarian, Dr. Tate Harris. He's a cute geeky sort and I can't wait to read more about him. I also appreciated Helena's newfound friendship with Molly Richards, another troublemaker and owner of Latte Dah, the local coffee shop. SOMETHING TO PROVE raises anticipation for Tate and Molly's story coming in January 2016 in EVERYTHING AT LAST.

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