Load the Boat - Rosalee Richland

Darla King is a square dance caller. I find that interesting. I have very little exposure to square dancing other than the bit we did in gym in elementary school and what I see on tv. The callers I've seen are always men so that gave an interesting premise to the story.

Darla is on a cruise which she gets to take for free in exchange for calling square dances and doing square dancing workshops. A number of her friends from her dancing club are also on the cruise, including one with whom she has a bit of a romantic interest. From the beginning of the cruise, bad things start to happen and Darla has to find out what's going on. Despite the advice of her friends and the sexy FBI agent on board, she plunges into the mysteries and almost gets herself killed.

I had not read the first book in this series but I don't think that affected my understanding of this story. The characters are quite distinct, which I appreciate very much. They are also likeable and don't do stupid things. I also appreciate that. The plot line is interesting with enough red herrings to keep you guessing. I looked forward to picking this book back up after I had to put it down to do something else.

Now a couple a of downsides. The writing style felt heavy to me. There was a lot more exposition than I required. The first book was practically recapped in it's entirely and the backstories of each character were unnecessarily long. I think the advice "show, don't tell" would be appropriate for this book. It just really needed to lighten up and move a little faster. The one other things that just about drove me nuts was the word "hug". We learn right off the bat that square dancers traditionally hug each other. And hug they did! Sometimes 2 or 3 times in as many paragraphs! They hugged people they knew, people they didn't know, as they were meeting up, as they were leaving, when the sun rose, when the sun set...you get my drift. Once I knew they "traditionally hug" each other, I probably could have done without the other 900000 hugs in the book. Does that seem nitpicky? Because I really did like the book but that was driving me to distraction.

This was a good and enjoyable book that could have been at least a 4 star book with a little judicious editing but that won't stop me from enjoying the other books in this series.

The author provided me with a review copy of this book. I appreciate it!