#246 ~ Fireworks Over Toccoa

Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff

Published by: Thomas Dunne Books

Published on: March 30, 2010

Page Count: 272

Genre: Romance / Historical Fiction

Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher

Availability: Hardcover and audio book

My Review

I don’t read many straight romance novels.  It’s not that I have anything against reading about love and romance – after all, most of the novels I read have those elements in there from one degree to another.  It’s just that my basic reading interests don’t often lead me in that direction.  When I was asked to read Fireworks over Toccoa, I was more interested than I normally would have been because of the background story.  Lily is a young American woman who got married rather quickly to a nice young man working for her father just weeks before he left for Europe to fight in World War II.  Although Lily enjoyed the short time she had with her new husband before she left, she returned to her parent’s home when Paul left.  Those three years he was at war gave her time to think about her choices and grow nervous over the upcoming return of a man who was pretty much a stranger to her.  As Paul’s homecoming approaches, Toccoa prepares for its first fireworks display on the Fourth of July since WWII began.  Lily, not having much experience with fireworks, is enthralled.  When she coincidentally runs into Jack Russo, the artist responsible for the display, more than just fireworks were sparked.  Lily has to decide how she truly feels about her husband and figure out how to live the rest of her life.

To lead into this novel, we first meet Lily’s granddaughter, who is preparing to get married.  Lily believes her granddaughter is making a mistake.  As much as this brings the reader into the story of Lily’s early life, I found it to be distracting.  I had no real interest in Lily’s granddaughter knowing from the beginning that this novel wasn’t about her.  I think that the story would have been better served to start with Lily in her youth.  Even though the end of the novel uses the beginning to paint a complete picture of Lily and Jack’s time together, I think I would have been just as happy with more ambiguity.

Despite things that didn’t work well for me, there were many details of this story that I enjoyed.  I liked the cabin and Lily’s artwork.  I especially liked Jack Russo.  I loved his dedication to his craft and his quiet nature. I liked Lily, but I really would have been interested to have lived those days through Jack’s eyes.  What was it like to travel and set up fireworks displays the way he did?  What was it about his time alone that helped him find peace with his past in Europe during the war?  What I knew of him from reading the novel made me want to know more.

I did not enjoy Fireworks Over Toccoa as much as I had hoped that I would.  Still, I found that it read easily and I never lost interest in the story.  There are some strong scenes between Lily and Jack that deliver the romance as well as build a bond between the two lovers.  It wasn’t just about romantic love, though.  I found the relationship between Lily and her father interesting.  While aspects of the ending were a touch too easy for my taste, I can see how this novel might translate into film.  Fireworks Over Toccoa would be  a good selection to take to the beach or the pool this summer, especially around the Fourth of July.  Even if you never hit the beach or a local pool, you might want to keep this in mind for when you’re in the mood for something quick and relaxing.

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  • At 2010.04.06 07:13, caite@a lovely shore breeze said:

    Like you, while I liked a few aspects of the book, overall it was a disappointment.
    Bottom line, I never bought the “Great Romance”.

    • At 2010.04.06 10:59, Sandy said:

      It sure sounded good from the previews I’d been seeing. I probably would have accepted the ARC as well. After the fact, it seems there has been some disappointment, almost like it was a little Sparks-ish. Bummer!

      • At 2010.04.06 11:14, nat @book, line, and sinker said:

        it’s always interesting to see men authoring romance novels. 🙂

        sorry this one didn’t work for you, but i found your review fair and comprehensive. a novel like this one will probably find lots of fans, but i tend to steer clear of straight romance myself.

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        • At 2010.04.06 13:41, Anna said:

          Thanks for the link!

          I was mostly interested in the background story, too. You know, I didn’t really pay much attention to the granddaughter. She really wasn’t there long enough to think about, which really means her character wasn’t necessary. Still, the book pulled me in, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

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          • At 2010.04.06 14:53, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

            I’m beginning to worry about how I’m going to like this book.

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            • At 2010.04.06 16:55, Michele@ A Reader's Respite said:

              Thanks for giving such a comprehensive review….it really helps when people tell me what they did and didn’t like (specifically)…that way I can more easily figure out if I would enjoy it.

              The WWII tie-in is a nice idea here. 🙂

              • At 2010.04.06 18:21, Meaghan said:

                I was thinking about reading this book too, but I had the same hesitations that you did about it and sounds like I might have been right. Next time I go to the beach this will be the one I take with me, but I will just put it on the back burner for now.

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                • At 2010.04.08 12:50, Savvyverseandwit said:

                  I really enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. But I really thought Lily’s granddaughter was a plot device and that she was unnecessary.

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