Mars…With Venus Rising is a cute and quirky contemporary romance that feels in many ways like a cozy mystery – without the mystery. The small town, the adorably eccentric aunts, even the loaded-with-personality pet. All it’s really missing to achieve “cozy mystery” status is for the Apple Festival coordinator to be found murdered on a parade float or some such tragedy. Although, there was the buried equipment crime…
John is probably my favorite character in Dougherty’s novel, his easy laughter & affection & thoughts about Penn from early in the novel through the end. The aunts come in a very close collective second place with their eccentricities, their well-meaning but painfully obvious matchmaking attempts, their penchant for baking, their affection for each other & Penn & John & even some romantic interests of their own. They reminded me often of my own beloved grandmothers, and I found myself smiling whenever they were on the page.
The romance in Mars…with Venus Rising is sometimes toe-curling and sometimes frustrating, but the toe-curling kisses make up for the frustrating moments quite nicely. I have such a one-track-mind, don’t I? ; )
To be honest, at the beginning of this novel I was sure I was going to stay perpetually irritated with John. I felt like he would be the cute but clueless one. As the story progressed, however, John proved himself to be solid and steady… and yeah, cute. : ) Penn actually turned out to be the one with whom I stayed perpetually irritated.
While Penn’s actions did keep me irritated for her and at her especially in regards to her relationship with John, I enjoyed how her hangups and long-held fears played into the spiritual aspect of this novel.
Some wise words are spoken by her friend Abby, by the aunts, by John, and although I don’t usually like a lot of prayers being written out in fiction I’m reading (it interrupts the flow of the story for me), I appreciated how natural these prayers felt and how organic to the characters and the situation they each were.
Bottom Line: Despite a few minor editing-related distractions (some plot points that seem to be abandoned, spelling & grammar errors, sudden perspective shifts, etc), Mars…With Venus Rising is a delicious contemporary romance with quirky characters, bits of humor, and solid spiritual truth.
“Delicious” in more ways than just the breathlessly lovely kisses too – Penn’s aunts love to bake and Hope Toler Dougherty has included several recipes in the back in case you get an urgent craving for snacks while you’re reading. (You will.) Delightfully cozy and grin-inducing, this is also a book that will touch your heart.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
My Rating: 4 stars / Enjoyed it!
Kissing Books Level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion
You can find Mars…With Venus Rising here.
Guest review contributed by Reading Is My Superpower. Peek at Top Ten Tuesday and Favorites Friday but also frequent author interviews/giveaways in a style of review that stands out from the rest.