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Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: Pretty Is As Pretty Does by Debby Mayne

Title: Pretty Is As Pretty Does
Series: Class Reunion #1
Author: Debby Mayne
Published: June 2013, Abingdon Press
Format: Print copy received for review

Priscilla Slater goes to her ten-year high school reunion with equal parts dread and eager anticipation. Even though she s a successful owner of a chain of hair salons and no longer has the mousy brown hair, crooked teeth, and discount-store wardrobe, she still feels like the ugly duckling. But when she arrives at the reunion, Priscilla soon realizes that her old classmates aren t exactly as she remembers them. With humor and a just a touch of sassiness, Priscilla finds herself facing her own truth and she may be surprised at what she discovers.

For this tour, I picked a review – and I went out of my comfort zone. I've never read christian fiction, but I thought I'd give it a try. And this book? Well, it isn’t exactly my favorite book. It wasn’t horrible - don’t get me wrong. It just didn’t click with me the whole way through the way I had hoped it would.

When this book started off, I was very excited. Debby Mayne is a really good writer. She was able to pull me into the story with no problem. Every time I was able to read more, I was instantly drawn in. There were no instances of feeling like I had to reread anything to get back into the groove of Pretty Is As Pretty Does. The story started off pretty interesting, too. It is mainly about Priscilla, who has just received an invitation to her ten year high school reunion. The story takes place over the few weeks before the actual reunion, and each chapter is from a different person’s point of view (total of four or five people). I really loved how each chapter gave us a different view. It kept things fresh.

Priscilla herself is a likeable character, for the most part. Near the end she was moving her way down my list for the way she was treating Tim, who turned out to be my favorite character. Priscilla is a beauty salon owner, she actually owns three. And she is going back home to Piney Point for this reunion. Along the way she comes into contact with some people from high school. She ends up on the committee to organize things, and then she also takes several weeks worth of beauty appointments for everyone attending the festivities. Priscilla also stays at home with her parents when she goes back, and we get to see her dynamic with them. She seems like a nice and logical minded person. She generally puts other people’s needs and wants before her own, making her quite the generous friend with her time. I liked all of that about her. What I didn’t like is the way she kind of led Tim on, saying to herself that he knew the details when he agreed to go on the date with her. I don’t know. Maybe I just developed a soft spot for Tim, but I feel like he really got the short end of the stick when it came to his feelings for Priscilla.

Through the rest of the book we meet several people, like Celeste, Trudy, and Laura. They all have some issues. It just got to be too much negativity for me. One person with issues in a book is enough, even two. But chapter after chapter of worrying about this drunken husband, or this ex husband, or being the class wallflower, or letting everyone down for the reunion… too much for me. While the story telling itself was great, the subject matter began to lose me after a while.

Maybe it is because I’m no longer in my twenties, like the characters in this book. But it felt to me like they were all much older than that. The way they spoke of their experiences, some of the terminology they used… things just didn’t add up for me. I’ve never once called my purse a pocketbook. This book does take place in the south, and I’m not sure if it is present day or what, but there were just things like that, that didn’t click with me. Perhaps I’m not familiar enough with the dialect to make an assumption on that.

I was really hoping to love this book, it started out so great. I even emailed a friend and told her the book was fantastic. It just didn’t hold the whole way through for me, unfortunately. Perhaps christian fiction just isn’t my genre, I can’t say that I am all that well versed in it.  But I hope you give this book a chance to see. I think Debby Mayne has talent, I just don’t think this was quite the read for me.

Debby Mayne has published more than 30 books and novellas, 400 print short stories and articles, more than 1,000 web articles, and a slew of devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor for Long Ridge Writers Group, and a copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. For the past eight years, she has judged the Writers Digest Annual Competition, Short-Short Contest, and Self-Published Book Competition. Three of Debby's books have been top ten favorites by the Heartsong Presents book club. Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida received 4-1/2 stars from Romantic Times Magazine, and was named a Top Pick for the month of July 2009.

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