REVIEW: ‘Red’s Hot Honky-Tonk Bar’ (2009) by Pamela Morsi

by Sarah on June 16, 2010 · 8 comments

Genre: Women’s Fiction

POV: 3rd Person (heroine’s point of view)

Sensuality: Subtle

Violence: N/A

Format: Digital

My Grade: B+

I’ve just finished reading Red’s Hot Honky-Tonk Bar by Pamela Morsi. It’s the first book I’ve read by this author. Seriously, where have I been?

Although Pamela Morsi launched her writing career in the romance genre, she’s since moved into Women’s Fiction. I can’t see readers accepting a character like Red as the heroine of  a mainstream romance, but she’s just perfect in this book.

The basic premise of the story is as follows: bar proprietor Red Cullens is forty-six years old (not that she’d admit it), sports a tattoo and a musician toyboy. Red lives firmly in the present. She prefers to forget her past, and refuses to think about her future. As her here and now is pretty good, Red is content with her lot.

All that changes when she receives a phone call from her estranged daughter, Bridge. Bridge is in the US army and currently serving in Afghanistan. Her two children were left in the care of their paternal grandmother, but she’s in hospital after suffering a stroke. Bridge is desperate. If Red won’t take the kids until Bridge’s deployment is over, they’ll end up in foster care.

Red is the first person to admit she was a lousy parent. She was a teenager when her daughter was born. While she didn’t abuse or mistreat her, she pretty much left Bridge to raise herself and breathed a sigh of relief when she left home at the age of eighteen to join the army. While she wishes them no ill, Red has no interest in having a relationship with her grandkids.

As far as she’s concerned, she’s done the maternal thing, wasn’t very good at it, and really doesn’t want a repeat performance. Nevertheless, she finds herself agreeing to look after the children until their father arrives from Korea. Bridge warns Red that her ex-husband is unlikely to agree to a change in their custody arrangement as he’s enjoying his bachelor lifestyle too much. Plus he’s also in the military, and Bridge doesn’t want the kids uprooted and dragged to Korea.

Within a couple of hours, Red is responsible for the welfare of two truculent children who clearly dislike her. She’s painfully aware that the nine-year-old is more mature than she is. When she is not permitted to leave the army base with two children plus luggage squished into her tiny sports car, Red is forced to call Cam, her thirty-one-year-old boyfriend, to come to her rescue. Although Cam knows that Red is older than him, she’s been deliberately vague about her age. She definitely hasn’t mentioned that she has a daughter almost his age, plus two grandkids.

What follows is a story which is both amusing and heart warming. Red’s attempts to dress respectably for her grandchildren’s school are hilarious. While Red and the kids bond eventually, it takes them quite a while to achieve with plenty of hiccups along the way.

Cam and Red’s relationship also changes over the course of the book. Red finally comes to understand why Cam wants to be with her. By the end of the book, they’ve achieved a convincing Happy For Now, which will hopefully develop into a Happy Ever After in the future.

One aspect of the story which I felt was under explored was Red’s relationship with her daughter. I would have liked more than the brief scenes devoted to it towards the end of the book. We only see Bridge through Red’s eyes, and from the emails her daughter Olivia sends her.

I’m not usually a fan of books which are classified as Women’s Fiction but I very much enjoyed this one. I intend to read more by Pamela Morsi.

Other Reviews of Red’s Hot Honky Tonk Bar:

All About Romance – A-

Jayne at Dear Author – B-


Wendy June 16, 2010 at 19:11

This one is buried in the TBR. I really need to dig it out.

Morsi wrote some wonderful historical romances (Americana, early 20th century time period) that featured good, solid, salt-of-the-Earth type characters (no blue bloods). I’m pretty sure they’re all out of print though, and given your geographic location, not sure how easily you’ll be able to dig them up. That said, a very quick search on my part turned up Courting Miss Hattie being available digitally – and that is one of my personal favorites :)

Sarah June 16, 2010 at 19:17

@Wendy: Wendy, you are my enabler. I just bought a digital copy of Courting Miss Hattie. Thanks! :D

Victoria Janssen June 16, 2010 at 19:30

I really love her historicals (usually very late 19th/early 20th century), and didn’t realize she’d also written contemporary. Thanks for the review!

Lynette June 16, 2010 at 19:54

Okay. You guys aren’t helping my big TBR pile. I just went to my library (sigh, my library’s on-line 24/7 access) and ordered this book as well as the one Wendy suggested! LOL!

Maili June 16, 2010 at 21:38

I second Wendy’s response. I’m a devoted fan of her Americana romances. My favourites: Courting Miss Hattie, Roundabout, Wild Oats, and one of her later books (can’t remember the title).

A lot of readers truly loved Simple Jess (as the title implies, the hero has a learning difficulty, e.g. limited I.Q.), though.

I did NOT know Courting Miss Hattie is digitally available. I’m off to buy a copy. Woo!

Sarah June 16, 2010 at 21:47

@Victoria Janssen: She’s written several contemporaries, the most recent of which have both been DIKs at All About Romance.

@Lynette: Enjoy!

@Maili: I hope more of her Americana romances are released digitally. As far as I can tell, Courting Miss Hattie is the only one.

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