I have been tapping my feet rather impatiently waiting for something new from Em Shotwell. So much so, I was half tempted to drive down to Louisiana and sit next to her, forcing her to write. (Alas, when it comes to Em, I know she doesn’t work that way.)
In case you don’t recall, Em wrote the phenomenal Blackbird Summer that I had to beg and plead to get a review copy of–and even then, she was scared to death of my review. Me. She was scared of little ol’ me.
And now I’ve got, in my hand, a review copy of her newest novella, Forget Me Not, that I didn’t even have to beg for this time around.
Forget Me Not is the love story between Rex and Evelyn Somersby, whom we meet in Blackbird Summer. In Blackbird, Rex and Evelyn are grandparents. In this one, they are young lovers learning about the joys of arranged “matches” among the Gifted community–matches that don’t coincide with Evelyn’s sincere appreciation for Guy McAllister’s “apricot-butt.”
It’s a really cute novella, that tackles on some real-life issues like PTSD, set in the time of the Vietnam War. The fear is palpable as these characters wait to hear the birthdays announced for the draft. Even though I knew what was coming, my stomach dropped right along with theirs. (Which is why Em is donating every bit of her royalties from this one to Operation Homefront. If that’s not enough to make you go buy five copies, I don’t know what does.)
I loved getting to know a little bit more about Evelyn’s gift, and that of the rest of her family. Speaking of gifts, this has seriously got to be one of the best titled pieces known to man. It works on so many different levels when it comes to this book.
I think my biggest complaint about this book isn’t really a complaint at all. Y’all, look, if you didn’t know this yet, Em has this amazing ability to set a scene. Her analogies are so amazing. Her descriptions are enough that I can see that “apricot butt,” I can feel the bark of her favorite tree under my fingers, I can feel the magic as it surrounds me. It’s unbelievable when you get dropped into an Em Shotwell world. As a writer myself, I must tell you that this is one of the biggest compliments I can give. Also, as a writer myself, it makes me feel absolutely crushed when it comes to my own work.* C’est la vie.
* I’m convinced everything I read is better than mine–Imposter Syndrome is alive and well in this one–so this really didn’t crush me quite as hard as I let on. Besides, I’m big enough to admit when someone’s better than me, and let’s face it, Em’s the shiz-nit. (Side note, I was unable to find a gif of this image, which means my internet powers have failed me when it comes to this review.)
About the novella:
When Rex Somersby’s family matchmaker sets him up with the famous Evelyn Cadeau, he can’t believe his luck. Evelyn is the woman with the perfect Gift—the woman every man wants—while Rex’s own magical ability leaves much to be desired. He travels from Missouri to meet his dream girl in her rural Mississippi home, where Evelyn makes it clear that winning her heart won’t be an easy task. Good thing farm-boy Rex has never been afraid of a little hard work.
Evelyn Cadeau is used to getting her way. As the woman with the most powerful Gift, she knows she can have her pick of anyone she wants. And who she wants is slick, handsome, and off-limits Guy McCallister—not gawky, buttoned-up Rex Somersby. Yet, after an arranged date with Rex takes a dramatic turn, leading to a bottle of wine and sneaking to the creek for a late night skinny dip, she realizes there may be more to by-the-rules Rex than meets the eye.
Just as the young couple start to think their family’s tradition of matchmaking isn’t quite so backward, Rex is drafted to Vietnam. With war threatening to tear them apart, will love be able to save them? Or will it take a bit of magic?
Pick up a Copy of Forget Me Not
Pick Up a Copy of Blackbird Summer
Pick up The Chans, a free short in the same universe.
Em Shotwell is the author of Blackbird Summer (City Owl Press, 2016). She lives in South Louisiana with a husband who spoils her and two mini-superheroes who call her mom. Em think the most interesting characters are the ones who live on the sidelines, and that small towns often hide the biggest secrets. She is inspired by tall tales and local legends.
When she’s not writing about misfits and oddballs, Em enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, and debating Doctor Who facts with her obsessed ten-year-old.