Book Review: The Foster Girls

The Foster Girls (Book #1 in the Smoky Mountain series)
Published By: Parkway Publishers, Inc.
Release Date: April 2009
Buy it at Amazon
Source: Provided by Author
Audience: Adult

As a kid, I fondly remember spending weekends and summers visiting my grandparents in the Appalachians of western North Carolina. The stretch of mountains that spreads through western North Carolina and into eastern Tennessee is often called the Great Smokies due to the mist that often clings to the peaks. I have been enamored with these mountains for as long as I can remember; I even chose a college that was cradled in the arms of the range. However, since my husband and I moved to Washington State last year, I have only been able to return to the Smokies twice. Sure, Washington has some beautiful mountain ranges - the Cascades and the Olympics - never cease to amaze me, but they are so different from the mountains of my youth. Reading Lin Stepp's novel helped transport me back to the mountains I love and helped ease a bit of yearning for home. Reading a story written by someone who loves the mountains as much as I do was a refreshing and enjoyable experience.

The Foster Girls is a story of secrets, love, and courage that I highly recommend to anyone who is a fan of regional literature that focuses on the Appalachians or on eastern Tennessee. I've mentioned before that I love books that are set in places that I am familiar with - The Foster Girls certainly delivered on that aspect. I got a  little smile every time towns like Gatlinburg and Sevierville were mentioned. I know these places well and have visited them frequently. Stepp has truly captured the sense of place in her novel and allows readers to step inside the life of a small town in rural Tennessee. 

This novel revolves around the story of Vivian Delaney, a reclusive writer and English professor, and Scott Jamison, a local who runs a popular summer camp. Vivian has escaped her high profile career in California in the hopes that she will find some peace, quiet, and anonymity in eastern Tennessee. She also hopes that the mountains will be a great place for her to write more books. She doesn't expect that her move will provide her with much more than just scenery and quiet country evenings. On her first night in Tennessee, during a vicious rainstorm, she meets the handsome and headstrong Scott at the end of his shotgun. That's a pretty unique way for catching a girl's attention, huh? After their first encounter, the two of them realize that their is some major chemistry between the two of them. However, is it just a budding curiosity or could it possibly be something more?

I truly loved these characters. Spending time with Vivian and Scott was one of the best parts of my day during this read. I just couldn't wait to get back to their story to figure out how their relationship would develop - even though it was a bit predictable at times. I also enjoyed that even though this is a romance, things were left to the imagination. My book buddies tease me all the time about this, but I just don't always enjoy the romance books that give way too much information about body parts and acts that are supposed to happen behind closed doors. I am far more drawn to a romances that focus on the act of falling in love and allow my mind to wonder where it will.

There are so many other things I want to say about this novel, but I don't want to ruin any of the major plot points for anyone else. If you're looking for a clean romance, an Appalachian tale, or a sweet story with endearing characters then this is the read for you. I will be reading and reviewing the other books in Lin Stepp's Smoky Mountain series soon so keep your eyes peeled for more. I love series where the characters and setting are all connected so I am excited to see where Stepp takes the stories in the future.

One Last Gripe: I wish the prologue had been a little longer. It felt abrupt to me.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The setting and regional feel

First Sentence: Vivian checked the highway sign again to make sure she was on the right road.

Favorite Character: Scott

Least Favorite Character: I honestly didn't have one

Vivian Delaney arrives in the quiet Wear's Valley, on the backside of the Great Smoky Mountains, carrying a heavy load of hidden problems. She is eager to find a quiet place to escape the recent troubles of her past. Right away, Vivian encounters unexpected challenges with her landlord, Scott Jamison. From Vivian's first meeting with Scott, which takes place at the end of a rifle barrel, he seems determined to push past all Vivian's defenses and find a way into her heart.

Just as Vivian begins to trust Scott and share her secrets with him, love for a little foster girl, Sarah Taylor, challenges their new relationship. When Sarah is lost in the mountains, suspense and conflict build in the lives of several characters caught in the balance.