|Folk Around and Find Out by Penny Reid
Folk Around and Find Out is the second book in Good Folk: Modern Folktales, a spin-off series of Reid’s Winston Brothers. The first was a let-down, but this one had a bit more kick to it.
Hank Weller is the owner of a strip club, Charlotte Mitchell a divorced mother of four whose husband left her with one of Hank’s strippers. Bad blood ensued, though not from Charlotte’s side, because she’s wilfully oblivious to gossip.
Charlotte needs an inside access to the club. Her cousin has gone missing and might be working as a stripper there, but the girls are protective of their own and won’t spill the beans to an outsider. First she tries to audition as a stripper, much to Hank’s horror, as she is a church-going teacher’s aide. Eventually, she becomes the bookkeeper. Romance ensues.
The romance was good. It was slow with many complications like boss dating an employee, town pariah dating a respectable woman, and a man who doesn’t like children dating a mother. All the obstacles were won little by little. Hank and Charlotte were believable people, and the romance grew organically. The children were great, with their own personalities instead of just backdrops.
All the rest was a bit off. Hank had a backstory as a rich kid turned a bad-boy, which was referred to, but nothing was made of it. Charlotte had an odd mother who interfered in the beginning, but it wasn’t dealt with in the end. Hank and Charlotte had a bit of history that he didn’t remember, but which meant a lot to her, yet it sort of went away on its own.
Charlotte also had trouble with her ex’s family, but just as it was coming to a climax, a deus ex machina solution in the form of Cletus Winston (who else) was handed outside the narrative and the problem went away. None of the potential drama outside the romance led to anything, and as a consequence the romance itself didn’t quite reach the emotional height it could have, as it was never really tested. The emotional payoff was in the epilogue and involved the children.
This wasn’t a bad book, but something has changed. What felt like a charming, quirky little town in Winston Brothers series has turned into a more realistic version with judgemental people making the life of others difficult, just because they can. The charm is gone and not even Beau and Cletus were able to bring it back. But the preview of the next book at the end promises Isaak’s story which we’ve been waiting forever, so I’ll definitely read that one too.