Book 607: Worth Searching For (Heart of the South #2) – Wendy Qualls

I grabbed this, along with eight other romance novels Qualls wrote or co-wrote, when Amazon was having a sale in February. I enjoyed Worth Waiting For and figured why not. They’re usually pretty short, under 200 pages, and engaging enough to read pretty quickly, especially when laying in a lounge chair on a beach/boat.

Like most romance novels the connection between the two is tangential and almost a friend-of-a-friend connection. It doesn’t really bother me, except when I get 3-4 books into a longer series and then I stop and question every new minor character introduction because I’m like ohhhh is that the next one, or ohhhh is it this new person?

Worth Searching For is the tale of Lito, a self-taught interior designer for a regional hotel chain, and Dave, a military veteran who now trains dogs and runs a volunteer search and rescue group. It follows the standard romance novel tropes of meet-cute, awkward adorable interactions, hot-and-heavy sex scenes, random family and/or friend interactions, drama of some sort, grandiose act of contrition/apology/romance, and a happy for now or happily ever after ending.

Where Qualls tried to differentiate herself (and for the most part succeeded) with this work and the following, Worth Fighting For, is incorporating minorities and social criticism/commentary on things like race/ethnicity, gender, geography and, to a lesser extent, class. In the case of Lito and Dave the drama that builds is around passing (as straight), racial identity (and language), and geography. The openly somewhat-flamboyant gay Peruvian-American bilingual urbanite, Lito comes to small town Alabama and meets straight-passing (but not in the closet) hyper-masculine veteran Dave, and they are occasionally put into awkward positions that create tension between them.

The only thing that bothered me about this book wasn’t really that bad of a thing, but more of a personal pet-peeve. During the heated romantic scenes, yes I’m talking about the sexy ones, it bothered me that both Lito and Dave both talked about wanting to be dominated and/or wanting to dominate (not in that term – but basically that they were both versatile, at least for each other) and yet there wasn’t ever the opportunity to both. You could argue that there was in who was driving the action, but in a physical sense there wasn’t. This could be on my reading of their internal dialogue in what I expected could/should happen in bed, but then didn’t pan out the way I thought it would/wanted it to. So really, this could be on me, but since I have a similar issue with Worth Fighting For, it’s not 100% on me.

Recommendation: They’re a fun quick release (pun intended) when you’re looking for something that’s not too challenging, but surprisingly does make you think while entertaining you. Of the three, this is probably my favorite, but like most romance novels I’m not sure how much of this I’ll remember 6-12 months from now.

Opening Line: “The local pet store was painted an eye-searing yellow, the ‘Pawse Awhile’ logo a vivid orange above it.”

Closing Line: “Dave grabbed his hand and practically towed him out the door.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)

Additional Quotes from Worth Waiting For
“And gossiping. Christ. Lito got to hear all about someone’s sister’s engagement, someone else’s infertility woes, and somebody’s neighbor’s loud cat. Vanessa occasionally asked a few work-related questions about various clients or phone calls they’d received, but the overall atmosphere was one of a sewing circle rather than a business meeting. Everyone was very white, very heterosexual, and very female.” (40)

“You want to curl up and watch some Netflix with me? Or we could go out for a walk around the pond—I’ve got some extra gloves and a toboggan somewhere, and Spot would probably love to come with.” (149)


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