The Widows of Witchita County by Jodi Thomas
published by Mira in August 2003
An unforgettable journey of faith, strength and friendship.
Apart from sharing the same zip code, Randi Howard, Anna Montano, Meredith Allen, Helena Whitworth and Crystal Howard have absolutely nothing in common until a fiery explosion on a west Texas oil rig changes everything.
Their husbands are men who live to search for "black gold," men who are willing to exchange backbreaking work and long days for danger and excitement - and money. But on a blistering day in early autumn four of the men pay the ultimate price - leaving behind one man who wishes he had.
In one brief moment the tragedy binds Randi, Anna, Meredith, Helena and Crystal closer together than a lifetime of friendship. As they gather at the hospital, waiting to learn who among them will not have to bury her husband, they turn to one another for support. And so begins a journey of faith, of strength, of tears and of love.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Witchita County, book #1
The Story: The Widows of Witchita County follows the lives of 5 women after the tragic accident that made them all widows at the same time.
My Opinion: Personally, I thought this book would have a more tragic feel, that the story would focus more on the accident than the aftermath. The book opens with a brief prologue, a "5 years earlier" where we see the women as newly wedded. Then, 5 years later, we see where they are and how their marriages are going. It's interesting to see 5 women of different ages and backgrounds come together in tragedy and how different their marriages were.
I don't want to go into each of the storylines, because it would be long, but overall, I enjoyed all of them. I loved Anna and Meredith's storylines the most. My only complaint about this book is how quick these women moved on. Especially the ones who met new love interests. I thought, no matter how the marriage was bad, that it'd take time...
My Grade: B. The Widows of Witchita County was enjoyable with great writing and solid storylines. However, I think that Ms Thomas could have made this book better than it is. It just comes short from the wow factor.
The Secrets of Rosa Lee by Jodi Thomas
published by Mira in August 2005
Everyone assumes Rosa Lee Altman lived a life without passion. But buried secrets are meant to be revealed. And no one is prepared for what they discover beneath Rosa Lee's overgrown roses - or how her legacy will change their lives with love.
The once beautiful Altman home sits empty, its gardens overgrown, its windows boarded up -- an old lady, now silent, surrounded by what passes for progress in Clifton Creek, Texas. But if some of the townsfolk have their way, this lovely reminder of times past will be sold off to the highest bidder.
When a group of community members with little in common is chosen to decide the fate of "the old Altman place," they soon learn that this home is more than bricks and mortar. It's also a place that harbors a love so strong, it still has the power to change the entire town.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Witchita County, book #2
The Story: The Secrets of Rosa Lee takes place in the same town as The Widows of Witchita County, only a few years later. Rosa Lee Altman is dead and the town now has to decide what to do with the Altman place: tear it down to sell the property or restore it. Thus, a committee has been formed to take the decision.
Sydney, a 40 years old college teacher and new transplant in Clifton Creek, is on this committee. Two years, she lost her grandmother and mother in a car accident. She inherited from her grandmother a card that said: "Do not forget the secrets of Rosa Lee." That is the reason of her move to Clifton Creek and being on the committee gives her the best opportunity to uncover those secrets.
My Opinion: Ms Thomas follow the same style as the previous book, i.e. she throws a bunch of eclectic characters together and tells their stories. Although it worked and The Secrets of Rosa Lee was an enjoyable read, I think that the storylines weren't as strong in this book. In fact, I thought that this book was a bit weak and the storylines not as interesting. However, Ms Thomas saves the book with the addition of the Rodgers sisters who serve as comedic relief. We also get to see past characters from The Widows of Witchita County, although their appearances seem forced at times.
The secret of Rosa Lee was indeed an interesting one. The idea was very good in my opinion, but the way the characters uncovered wasn't handled at its best. I thought it made it too lucky perhaps? In addition, the whole plot of the committee members being attacked/threatened so the Altman place would be teared down felt forced as well. Especially since from the beginning, none of them wanted to keep the place. The main romance storyline was a bit too short and not developed enough. It didn't draw my attention...
My Grade: B-. Not a bad book, but not as good as the previous books I've read by Ms Thomas. Overall, I think the book wasn't touching enough and therefore became an average read.