Saturday, June 18, 2011

Talk of the Town

Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate

Can anything go right in this tumbleweed town?

Her show, American Megastar, is TV’s hottest program, but life couldn’t be worse for associate producer Mandalay Florentino. She’s just arrived in the hayseed town of Daily, Texas, to arrange a surprise “reunion concert” for hometown finalist Amber Anderson—only everyone seems to know the secret already.

Plus she keeps crossing paths with a gorgeous cowboy with blue eyes who may not be the country boy he appears to be.

And the paparazzi are swarming.

And her boss is demanding perfection…or else.

With the faith and future of a young singer on the line, Mandalay and the town of Daily must find the courage—and the creativity—to make sure the reunion concert is unforgettable!

--Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate, Copyright ©2008 by Wingate Media LLC, published by Bethany House Publishers

My Review

Mandalay Florentino is an associate producer of the hit TV series American Megastar. She’s a typical twenty-something mid-level executive. Her life is good, but not perfect. Her job on television is not what she set out to do, but she likes it and she’s good at it—at least, she thinks she is. She has a fiancée, but he has yet to buy her a ring. Her boss is a dragon lady, but Manda seems to be handling her well. All in all, everything is okay.

Except…her up-and-coming startlet, Amber Anderson, keeps landing into trouble. She doesn’t mean to—she’s an innocent Gospel singer from a small town in Texas. How was she supposed to know what “going clubbing” meant? And the brat-pack bad-boy the tabloids have her hooked up with—he’s just so sweet with her, she can’t understand how he got that reputation. It all adds up to headaches for Manda. Especially when she finds out a Christian music recording executive may be trying to set up a private meet with Amber, a strict no-no in Amber’s American Megastar contract.

Manda arrives in Daily, Texas, to prepare for a special “reunion” segment of the show. It’s a regular feature of the show, visiting the hometowns of the five finalists to show America where their next megastar grew up. The town of Daily is preparing for its Reunion Days, so what better time than that to bring Daily’s megastar home for a special concert? Problem is, the hometown specials were supposed to be kept secret, and in a small town like Daily, there are no secrets.

She hasn’t told anyone who she is or why she’s in Daily, but the locals aren’t idiots. They figured out pretty quickly that something big was about to happen in their little town and since their girl Amber was on the show, it had to be connected to her. Manda desperately tries to keep the reunion concert secret while at the same time tries to learn everything she can about Amber for the hometown special.

Having everyone in town know about Amber making it to the final five is a small hiccup in her plans, but Manda can work around it. What she can’t work around is her growing feelings for a certain other stranger in town. Carter Woods was in Daily on business though he never specified what that business was. Circumstances throw the two together and Manda’s starting to fall for the Austin cowboy in the Hawaiian shirt. But she has a fiancée…doesn’t she? If so, why did she find his active profile on an on-line dating site?

When she finds out exactly what Carter’s business is, and the plans her own boss has in store for her and for Amber, Manda has a decision to make. Go along with her boss, save her career and watch a potential megastar crumble, or do what’s right and pray that God will help her land on her feet.

I had a little trouble with the format of this story. It’s told in first person, with every odd-numbered chapter from Mandalay’s point-of-view and every even-numbered chapter from Imagene Doll’s (an elderly, colorful resident of Daily) point-of-view. After a while, though, I got used to it and found it was a rather interesting way to tell the story. Not only does the reader get Manda’s view, but the town’s as well through Imagene.

This is a contemporary Christian story, but it’s very light with its Christianity. Most of the characters are Christian and their faith comes through in the way they live and the things they say. It’s not preachy in the slightest, so if those types of stories turn you off, you won’t be turned off by this story. Talk of the Town is a fun, lighthearted romance well worth a read.

I give this story THREE STARS.

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