4 out of 4 stars
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Ruby’s Choice (Ditch Lane Diaries Book 1) by D. F. Jones is the author debut novel and first book in the Ditch Lane Diaries series. The romance novel is set in Tennessee during the 1970s with a small amount of supernatural elements. The main character, Ruby, is drawn into a dating game called “tap it” by two handsome suitors, Brent and Reed. The dating game is won by getting the chosen girl to fall in love with one of them. Ruby figures out that the love triangle is part of a game and tries to turn it around on Brent and Reed. Will Ruby end up losing out on Mr. Right for a chance to win a dating game?
Jones does an excellent job writing an engaging and enchanting novel. The first bloom of love is captured giving an authenticity that makes the novel feel refreshingly honest and real. The characters are fleshed out, realistic, and develop organically throughout. Told in third person limited point of view, Jones showcases a daft hand at switching narrators without causing confusion. There are fun elements that add to the novel’s overall success. For example, each chapter is named with a 1970s song. The time period is honored through references that are iconic to the 1970s, such as Charlie's Angels, Suntan oil, and battery powered transistor radios.
The characters’ feel realistic because the dialogue is genuine. Jones uses great judgment by using accents sparingly. The reader is told that the majority of dialogue is in an accent or southern twang. The characters’ funniest moments came from the creative ways Jones works around curse words.
Both Brent and Reed are smart and sexy, but are very different from each other making them good rivals for Ruby’s affection. Ruby is a likeable character. She is competent, smart, honest, self-aware, and takes responsibility for her feelings and actions. The novel’s plot does not revolve around petty drama or misunderstanding. As a result, there is a true exploration of feelings and a heightened sense of romance.
The novel is part of a series, but does not leave the reader feeling unfulfilled by the ending. Ruby’s Choice stands on its own and gives enough closure to the reader. Threaded throughout are questions and events that can be explored throughout the series.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Jones’ ability to articulate what it feels like to fall in love and what love is quickened my heart rate and put words to emotions I have only felt before. The characters are strong and well thought out. The dialogue matched seamlessly with how characters felt and acted. If you enjoy romance novels without a lot of self-made drama or are just looking for a good romance this is the book for you.
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