Book Review: The Songbird’s Call

the-songbirds-call

Book Review:  The Songbird’s Call by Rachael Herron

In their youth, the Darling sisters were a country music act, but a few years have now passed and times have changed.

While Adele, the eldest, is running a bar their uncle once owned, Molly, the middle sister, arrives back in town after working and living on a cruise ship for several years. Molly is penniless (of course, cliche #253), having been manipulated out of her savings by her ex-boyfriend. Not only did he con her for her money, but he also verbally/mentally abused her for a long time. Adele convinces Molly that it’s time to make a fresh start and it’s off to the family cafe to start the clean up (cliche #192) to re-open the business.

Helping Molly out is a local policeman, Colin, and his sister, Nikki. Obviously romance is in the air between Colin and Molly. The conflict in this situation is that Molly has promised herself to never be bullied or abused by a man again, and bullying apparently comes natural to a policeman with a shady past.

I’m quite sure everyone else liked this book much more than I did (there’s a plethora of 5/5 ratings). I just found it to be too full of cliches for my liking.

Even the blurb and cover is a bit of a cliche. The blurb telling me The Songbird’s Call is a ‘romantic comedy’ is purely odd. There isn’t much humour in the book. This is purely a romance in the vein of a Mills & Boon (Harlequin).

I didn’t like the cliche of everyone’s country music prowess.Everyone sings. The Songbirds are apparently nothing special as both Colin and Adele’s boyfriend and the hero from the first book in the series, Nate, sing in bands etc.

The girls’ similarity with the Dixie Chicks is borderline plagiarism too. Herron confused me with just how popular the girls’ group was before they went their separate ways. In several scenes we hear that they were household names with Molly able to use her media fame to fight for worthy causes, and then in the next scene Molly will rant that no one would possibly remember who she was or recognise her.

I could have liked the cliche of Molly’s self-esteem issues, but unfortunately it wasn’t very well written. The background and reasons for Molly’s askew body image is excellent, but her resolution and acceptance confused the hell out me. How does someone go from obsessing about their weight to performing a striptease in the office of her brand new boyfriend? I just don’t see how she could jump from point A to point B so quickly.

Talking of sex… The sex scenes seemed really forced. They seemed to just be plopped in amongst the rest of the plot for no real reason, other than to get a few readers hot under the collar. Unfortunately they did little for me, because of this forced inclusion.

There’s also a huge theme of domestic abuse in the book. Herron had some fabulous ideas for this theme (especially with Colin’s father’s sad legacy being passed to Colin and Nikki) but it wasn’t well executed. Molly’s issues with Colin never seem to be resolved, and Nikki’s resolution with her boyfriend seemed much too simplistic.

As much as I appreciate the importance of raising awareness of domestic violence and body shaming, the handling of each subject didn’t win me over.

I might have made it through the plot holes if the writing impressed me sufficiently, but this wasn’t to be either. It’s not awful, but nothing more than pedestrian. There’s no brilliant food porn from the cafe. There’s no sweet setting that’s tempting you into holiday mode.

Molly and Colin were pretty ho-hum. I did like Nikki, and maybe we’ll see her again in another book. (I must add, too, that fans of the first book shouldn’t get too excited about reading about that edition’s couple. Adele and Nate hardly feature.)

Obviously I was terribly disappointed (expected too much?) and I don’t think I’ll rush to find out what happens with the third sister, Lana.

2 and a half, stretched to a 3/5

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