Book Review: Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems by Susan Jean Ricci

Dinosaurs and Cherry StemsWhen I read a book that’s been self-published by an Indie author, I’m often disappointed. It’s probably because I’m a writer too and I have certain expectations of how a book should look. Now, I’m not trying to argue that I am the pinnacle of all writerly goodness. I make mistakes. I’m human. It’s just that so many mistakes could be avoided with the liberal application of a spelling and grammar check courtesy your friendly neighborhood word processor. Many Indie authors fail to apply these tools. Further still, the plots are simplistic and that’s okay, but when simplistic plot and bad editing come together the results can be disastrous. I have been reading a lot of romance novels lately of the Indie variety lately and they have left me longing for the days when Harlequin ruled because at least with a Harlequin Romance, you know what you’re getting. Still, these Indie romances follow the trope of the genre. Girl meets boy.  Girl thinks boy is hot. Things get hot and heavy. They fall in love with each other and don’t even seem to realize it. Then the book ends with a scene so overplayed in the genre that, if you’re a fan of romance novels, I don’t even have to tell you what it is because you already know. Knowing what I read in the cover information provided with Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems, I sat down to read Susan Ricci’s book with all of this in mind, and expected to get more of the same.

Boy, was I wrong!

Not only did I not find myself getting rudely jerked out of the story by pithy mistakes, I found myself so engaged with the main character that I was laughing my ass off by the time I hit the second chapter. There are quotes in this book that I read to my husband– romance stories are not his cup of tea– and he thought they were hilarious! Susan Ricci’s book is not only well-edited, it is just the sort of character driven tale that I love and its down to earth humor really tugged at my heartstrings.

I am in love with the protagonist in this story. Cindy’s 50. She’s been married twice and has been out of the dating scene for so long, that she doesn’t even know where to start. She’s someone you can identify with. You either know someone like her or you are like her. She’s so vibrant and full of life that she decides to take the plunge into dating after her second divorce. The first several chapters are a wonderful series of anecdotes about her dating experiences. Each one has something funny to offer and some very real world advice too. (Beware of scammers on Internet dating sites, people!)

Eventually though, Cindy does meet the right guy and that’s when I found myself being treated to the most wonderful love story.  I won’t give away the details, but the relationship between Cindy and her Mr. Right is so beautiful and so real that I found myself reflecting on some of those moments within my own marriage. The couple do have their ups and downs, what relationship doesn’t? But they also have moments so hilarious, that I can’t even share them with you here, not because it would ruin the moment for you, but because I’ll start laughing again. I was laughing so hard as I was reading a particular scene, that my daughter ran into the room thinking something must be horribly wrong with me! When I was finally able to breathe, I read it to her and we both sat there giggling until my son came upstairs and asked what was so funny. It was just that good.

I haven’t read a love story so bold that it was unafraid of being real. The romance market has become so bogged down in that fantastic moment of falling in love. I think that younger readers of the genre get this idea in their heads that love is just about that overplayed moment. They get caught up in the idea of that moment and keep waiting for it to happen to them, and love, true love, just doesn’t work like that. True love is about arguing over what’s for dinner. It’s about leaving the toilet seat up and finding your partner’s keys where they swear they didn’t leave them. Love is about so much more than just that one moment when you realize that you’re in it. It’s about the millions of moments that happen after that one. It’s building a life together and being brave enough to share your deepest fears and darkest moments with another human being, because real love definitely makes you brave. This is that sort of story.

There’s so much to like here. The story flows beautifully, even the language seems to flow beautifully, so much so that you find yourself being pulled through Cindy’s adventures right along with her and at the end, your heart just smiles. If you’re looking for a wonderfully funny story about real romance, look no further. Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems is the book you’re looking for. So, what are you waiting for?  Go buy the book. Read the book. Love the book, and do it now.

Do be sure that you read the acknowledgements in the back when you’re through, because they will make your heart smile too.