Title: Fireworks Over Toccoa
Author: Jeffrey Stepakoff
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “An unexpected discovery takes eighty-four-year-old Lily Davis Woodward to 1945, and the five days that forever changed her life. Married for only a week before her husband was sent to fight in WWII, Lily is anxious for his return, and the chance to begin their life together. In honor of the soldiers’ homecoming, the small Georgia town of Toccoa plans a big celebration. And Jake Russo, a handsome Italian immigrant, also back from war, is responsible for the elaborate fireworks display the town commissioned. But after a chance encounter in a star-lit field, he steals Lily’s heart and soul–and fulfills her in ways her socially-minded, upper-class family cannot. Now, torn by duty to society and her husband–and the poor, passionate man who might be her only true love–Lily must choose between a commitment she’s already made and a love shes never known before.”
Thoughts: Fireworks Over Toccoa reminds me of Bridges of Madison County mashed with the movie, Titanic. If your first response to this description is that this is not a good combination, you are 100 percent accurate. In my opinion, Fireworks Over Toccoa is what gives romance novels a bad name.
The truly sad part is that it could have been quite beautiful. The entire story hinges on how much the reader cares about Lily. Unfortunately, she comes across as a poor, little rich girl that is forced into a choice between love versus responsibility. Antonio is more interesting a character, but the disjointed vignettes that are meant to expose his secrets are misplaced and distracting. The imagery is absolutely horrible. (My personal favorite mentions how her skin was like butter melting on hot grits.) What was meant to be beautiful turns out to be clunky and awkward.
Fireworks Over Toccoa could have been gut-wrenching and passionate. Instead, it is cliched, predictable and just plain cheesy. The best part about the novel is that at 260 pages, one can finish the entire novel in a matter of a few hours. No more time is needed to experience this example of bad romance.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for my review copy!