I pressed “Play” on a tiny remote. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Memories from Cats quieted the excess chatter in my mind, and while ironing, I relaxed. Soon his exquisite love songs drew me to another place—the environs of a Texas town called Harmony.
Harmony is the setting for New York Times’ best-selling author, Jodi Thomas’ novel “Just Down the Road,” her latest in the series, Harmony.
But readers know from the first paragraph, when they meet Dr. Addison Spencer, to brace for discord. It’s Saturday night, and Dr. Spencer has ER duty. “Get six rooms ready,” she tells her assistant when she learns the injured from a bar fight are on their way to the hospital.
After patching up Tinch Turner, the doctor, who lives near his ranch, drives him home. It’s not an act of graciousness on her part, but sense of responsibility. Her patient refuses to spend the night in the hospital. An odd couple, certainly, but Just Down the Road is a romantic novel, after all. The question is, how will author, Jodi Thomas manage to unite a brawling cowboy and female physician without the novel falling into implausible fantasy?
If something is brewing between Addison and Tinch, theirs is not the only possible romance in town. Brandon Biggs and Noah McAllen are both friends with old Jeremiah Truman’s niece, Reagan. Singles socialize at the local watering hole, the Buffalo Bar and Grill, and even the town’s undertaker, once resigned to his unmarried status, now dreams of wedding bells.
By page 66 love blooms all around Harmony. And tension builds.
Just Down the Road blends romance, suspense, and a cast of characters so real, we feel we've known them from somewhere.
Typical of life, certain of Harmony’s residents are a bit quirky. At a funeral “Miss Dewly, who played the ancient organ, came in and took her place. So did her two friends. They always tagged along if Miss Dewly had a morning funeral so all three could go to lunch afterward.”
But the peculiar is balanced with wisdom. In reference to his wife’s job, the Sheriff’s husband, Hank, said, “’When you love somebody like I love Alexandra, you have to let them do what they love. She’s good at her job. I've got to trust that. I guess if you love someone, you've got to love them all. People don’t come in parts you can divide out and pick what you like.’”
After we read and live vicariously in Harmony, we're apt to forget it’s not our town. In fact, however we might like to, we cannot actually go there.
It seemed to me, though, Ms. Thomas took writers’ license with the weather in her Texas town located not far from Amarillo. It rained more than once in the story. Oh well, we who are thankful for one-tenth of an inch don’t find it difficult to suspend disbelief...and wish.
© 2012, Bernice W. Simpson