Book Review: Volume One by Julie Ann Walker

May 13, 2019 Book Reviews 0

Book Review: Volume One by Julie Ann Walker

I received this book for free from Publicist in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Volume One by Julie Ann Walker
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Limerence Publications LLC on July 1, 2019
Pages: 260
Format: eARC
Source: Publicist

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Also by this author: Built to Last, Wild Ride

First in the In Moonlight and Memories contemporary romance series and revolving around three estranged friends in New Orleans around Halloween.

This eARC was sent to me by the author and Limerence Publications LLC for an honest review.

My Take

It’s a story told from three different perspectives using first person protagonist point-of-view, and Walker makes it easy to follow who’s speaking by heading up each chapter with that person’s name. Perspectives where each of the three is too busy thinking they know what’s best for everyone else, and Walker drags that tease on forever!

It did make me nuts how slow the pace was, meandering as it did through their reminiscing — handy for filling us in on the back history…that story about “Meat and Potatoes” certainly fills in “chapters” on Luc’s school days. The traditions they speak of, especially the ones that follow their digging up the time capsule, lol. It’s too sweet and pulls me right in to their lives. Cash is so sweetly protective back then. Now, his idea of protection drives me mad! How can he not see that he’s making her miserable anyway!?!

And it’s still slow, even in Luc’s and Cash’s post-military lives. Luc’s living in his old home on the bayou (although the inside is a whole lot different from what Maggie remembers) and both of them spend most of their time fixing up Cash’s “new” place. The sound of that house Cash bought is rather grim, but I’ve always loved fixing things up. Making it better, making it suit my wants. As for a future, Cash and Luc have only mentioned career possibilities.

There’s a tangle of tension in this what with Luc in love with Maggie and refusing to tell her or acknowledge his loving her to Cash. And Maggie and Cash are in love, but Cash refuses to confirm his love because of the damage he suffered. The three of them continually hint about the horrific event that changed their lives, and Walker says nothing! Arghh. The reasons why Cash and Luc bailed out of town, why Maggie feels such guilt over her parents’ tragic deaths and whatever happened to that danged bully, the Plan…the Viking funeral, lol. It’s enough to drive one mad.

I love Walker’s description of entering Maggie’s building. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt New Orleans… It was excellent show, making me feel the humidity, the age, glorious:

“…through the short tunnel into the courtyard. The brick pavers are old and rounded at the edges. Some are jacketed in a soft layer of green moss. Others are crumbling or missing…”

Oh, man, Maggie’s pets…I love imagining Leonard riding around on that Roomba. Makes me want one to see if my kits would do this, ROFLMAO. Then there’s Sally Renee who comes off badly at first, and then we learn an unexpected (and sweet) truth that made me want to cry for her.

“Southern women are sledgehammers camouflaged as fluffy marshmallows.”

It’s love. It’s loyalty. It’s protective. Annnd, as Eva points out:

“You [Maggie] tend to spend a lot of time living in the past and putting a lot of emphasis on what was. I think maybe that stops you from seeing what is.”

It’s a character-driven story with a lot of flashbacks that provide insight into the threesome’s past. And it will make you want to cry for the sacrifices and good times these three had.

The Story

Luc and Cash have left the Green Berets and come home. Home to face the music of both New Orleans and their third musketeer, Maggie May. For the two of them had run out on Maggie. Haven’t spoken to her in ten years.

Now they’re back.

The Characters

Twenty-six-year-old Magnolia “Maggie” May Carter has fulfilled one dream with Bon Temps Rouler, the bar she’s owned for the past four years. She volunteers at the animal shelter, hence Yard, her three-legged dog; Leonard, a tabby cat with a love for Roombas; and, Sheldon, a black-and-white cat who doesn’t normally warm up to people.

The renowned Beatrix Chatelain is Maggie’s very proper paternal great-aunt who took the girls in when their parents (David and Trina Carter) died. Miss June is the scandalous great-aunt who also lives in Bea’s Garden District mansion. June had been married to “Good Time” Jack Goudeau, and that says it all. Their children had been Jack Jr and Danica. Violet is Maggie’s prissy sister who blames Maggie for what happened.

Jean-Pierre Marchand is a musician and Maggie’s upstairs neighbor and best friend. Evangeline “Eva” Bell is Maggie’s best childhood friend and a sought-after fashion model. Granny Mabel is the woman who raised Eva. Lauren is more of an acquaintance…and fun.

The creative Master Sergeant Lucien “Luc” Dubois was an outcast in high school whose dream was to write songs. These days, his mom, Helene Dubois, is up in Shreveport with her own salon.

Cassius “Cash” Armstrong, born in Newark, loves New Orleans, where his first real friendship began, and where he fell in love, even if he was the “wrong kind”. Even his doctorsDr Henry Beckett and consultant Dr Corbin Winthrop, head of the Neurology Department at Tulane — say his self-medication is okay. The selfish and abusive Richard “Rick” Armstrong is his jerk of a father who left New Jersey as his reputation got around as a contractor. Says it all when you learn he’s a good buddy of Sullivan’s.

Bon Temps Rouler is…
…the name of Maggie’s dream. Chrissy is one of Maggie’s employees; Charlie is a barback. “Royal Earl” Greene is a local legend and a regular customer with his own legion of followers.

New Orleans PD
Superintendent George Sullivan is a corrupt bully. Officer Rory Ketchum is a good one; his wife, Jackie, and Maggie went to Tulane together.

The French Quarter Task Force is a private policing group in which many policemen moonlight.

Her neighbors include Mr and Mrs Monroe who are retired and live across the way; Vernon had been a famous artist, and now arthritis has stiffened his joints. The Ladies Who Brunch Club is one of Violet’s weekly events with her friends Cheryl, Marlene, and Jessa who has a design company.

Linda Gilbert works at the Union Savings and Loan. Café du Monde is where you go for coffee and beignets; Bernice is a waitress there. Billy Dickson was one of Maggie’s boyfriends. Jelly Bean Jenkins had been a revered and respected musician. Madame LaRouche is a fortuneteller. Samuel is a little boy at the park. Baseball Cap, a.k.a., Todd Dungworth, is another jerk. Harold Bahls had a most unfortunate dating experience. Curtis Southerland’s cousin was a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

Devon is an Uber driver with a second cousin, Jimmy Don Collins, who does handiwork for Aunts Bea and June. Ellie is a friend of Miss Bea’s whose son Jim is in a car wreck. Another friend, Charlene, has a nephew Stew whose law office sent him to Savannah. Della is a few years older than Luc with a son, Grady, in graduate school. Sally Renee (she started as a nail technician at Louisa Dandridge’s and then encountered Old Man Silas Rutherford) bought herself a date. Jenny and Joyce are friends of Sally Renee’s. A second line is a parade for anything.

Ten years ago, Braxton Academy was…
…an elite private high school where our protagonists were outcasts. Dean Sullivan is/was the police superintendent’s bully of a son and the school’s star quarterback. Wesley Madigan was another one that Cash fought with. Bernie Walters was one of Dean Sullivan’s minions; his mom owned a flower shop. Leroy Baker had a pool party. Jessa Bryant had thrown a rave.

Luc was Benjamin Gates‘ nemesis.

The Title and Cover

The title is Volume One, which is certainly helpful in determining where this story is placed within the series, but is rather unimaginative… I’m suspecting the three volumes were meant to have been one but were too big. And Walker should have put some effort into proper titles for this three-parter.

The cover is pretty with its soft sunrise of pastel blues, pinks, and oranges, coming up behind the forest in the bayou, making the full moon disappear. Standing in that bayou is the silhouette of a man standing in the reflected glory of that sunrise, hands in his pockets, his body glittering with stars. It’s a complicated gradation from that soft blue at the top to the deep blue of the bottom. The text is all in white, starting at the top with a teaser, the script of the title washing across the man’s body with the volume info immediately below it. Below that is an info blurb followed by the author’s name at the very bottom.

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