Years ago, I read Melissa Tagg’s debut Made to Last. I remember thinking it was a fine offering, but it didn’t completely grab me. Still, if we’re talking about author appeal, she’s always had it for me. First, I love the tone her e-newsletters set. Second, I love her love of witty, classic movies. From afar, I felt a kinship.
(I wonder just how weird that is for an author…knowing others think they identify with you, despite not knowing you…)
This was feeling was amplified when I responded to a newsletter (…sometimes a common love of West Wing just needs to be shared openly!) and she replied – and made me chuckle yet again.
So I knew I needed to try another of her books. At that point, silly me had only read that first (Made to Last) and one of her free novellas (Three Little Words). But lately, with all my new reading time (amazing how much more time there is for fiction once you finish higher ed classes…), I decided to pick up another Tagg book. And then another. And then another, etc.
She’s good, friends. Keep in mind she writes romance (and romantic comedy at that) so if that’s not your cup of tea, look elsewhere. But if those interest you, read on!
As always happens with authors and me, I certainly identify more with some of her characters/books than others. However, there is a a storytelling skill and knack for witty dialogue that I can appreciate in each of her works. And here’s the thing…I think they’re getting better and better as she writes.
So here are some basics from a few of hers that were stand outs to me:
From the Start is the first full-length installment in Tagg’s Walker Family series – and it’s a good one. Struggling romance writer, Kate Walker finds herself thrown into a writing relationship with ex-NFL star Colton Greene. Kate and Colton are well-developed characters who are easy to relate to, despite their rather un-relatable careers. As they search out new directions for their lives, the characters sharpen each other in wonderful ways, and leave you with not only a wonderful romance, but some excellent insight into the curveballs life often throws – and what we can do with them.
Right Where We Belong is a collection of three novellas – only one being by Melissa Tagg. (The others are by Deborah Raney and Courtney Walsh – but as Tagg is my focus today, I’m going to discuss only her novella). Let me preface by saying that novellas are not something I read. I’ve tried some, and about 95% of the time feel myself let down by them. I want to like them, but its so hard for me to truly get into such a short story – I feel like there’s just never enough characterization or plot to make it truly work. But here’s the thing: this one’s an exception. I LOVED this one! First, Tagg’s Walker Family series introduced a delightfully drawn character in Megan Harrow – young, tough, single mother and owner of a coffee shop. She meets her match in this installment (A Maple Valley Romance) in Eric Hampton. Both characters struggle with very real issues – and find themselves refined as they get to know each other. This one offers depth that’s hard to find in many novellas. Highly recommended.
Here to Stay is one of my favorites of Tagg’s – and my most recent read. Blake Hunziker was a delightfully fun character in Made to Last and one of my favorite parts. It was wonderful to revisit him, get a deeper look into his past, and watch him fill out as a main character. Autumn Kingsley provides a great match for him, and Tagg’s wit finds a comfortable home in these two characters. All in all, this felt more like a showcase of the gift Tagg has – without the newness and slight kinks of a debut novel. This one’s cute and offers some valuable reminders about what it means to seek God’s will and find your place in it – even if that requires patience and wading through the unknown.
As an end note – Tagg also has an upcoming release, All This Time, that will complete her Walker Family series. I’m eagerly awaiting its release (September 28, 2017) and already have it on pre-order.