Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For more than eight years, Lindsay Attwood has played it safe. After her ex-husband ditched her upon learning of the impending arrival of their daughter, Lindsay stopped traveling the world and instead took a job in the basement of a museum in Denver, converting her talents for archaeological discovery into those of restoration and cataloging. She wrapped her life around her daughter, Sydney, keeping new people at bay after learning the hard way that men can't be trusted. However, that approach led to fundamental loneliness and an emotional collapse the moment her ex suddenly decided he wanted to be a part of Sydney's life and took her to Mexico for the summer.
Lindsay's twin sister, Laura, and their friend Collie hatch a plan to drag Lindsay out of her despair: Laura invites Lindsay for a visit to Texas, and Collie begs for her help discovering who has stolen dinosaur tracks from a local ranch. Collie persuades Lindsay to go "undercover" at the ranch as a student in the horse psychology camp run by the owner's granddaughter, since it's possible the theft was an inside job. On the way to the ranch, Lindsay nearly runs over a giant dog chased by angry cowboys, and her defense of the dog leads to a temporary adoption--although which of them did the adopting is a matter of debate.
One of the cowboys turns out to be the veterinarian grandson of the same ranch owner whose dinosaur tracks had been stolen, and over the next few days, Zack and Lindsay fall in love while repairing windmills and chasing her escape-artist dog across fields to the Lover's Oak. Once the townsfolk hear they were seen kissing under the famous tree, curiosity is at a fever pitch, and the wedding a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, Lindsay has Trust Issues with a capital "T" and no faith that it's possible to have a relationship with a USDA vet who lives thousands of miles away.
I'm not typically one to notice language unless it's unusually bad (especially grammar and typos) or unusually good. While listening to this audiobook, I noticed not only Johanna Parker's lovely voice, but also the lush, lyrical, evocative, and amusing descriptions and idioms Lisa Wingate used to tell the story. The beautiful words helped me cope with the main character's stubborn refusal to pay more attention to present actions than past hurts.
Seriously--Lindsay is in dire need of Alison Armstrong's workshops on understanding men & women! The horse psychology class was a big step in the right direction, yet it's fairly improbable that Lindsay so quickly went from being a failure to a star pupil, given her inability to fully translate the early skills into the human world. I think she needed a bigger "Aha!" moment first, like some of the other students seemed to have. That would have made it a 5-star book, in my opinion.
For readers' advisors: character and language doorways are primary, story and setting secondary. Some contortions to avoid actual swear words, which was sweet but unrealistic. No sex or violence.
View all my reviews