Review of “Fireworks Over Toccoa” by Jeffrey Stepakoff

If you are in the mood for a tearjerker romance that is predicable and not too intellectually challenging, this book will suit you.

Lily Davis and her husband, Paul Woodward, were only married several weeks before he was called overseas to serve in World War II. Now it is late June of 1945, and Paul is due back on Independence Day.

Looking out from her porch, Lily sees fireworks and they seem to stir a longing in her. She goes to check out where they are coming from, and meets pyrotechnics man Jake Russo. And then the real fireworks begin! Jake is lean, hard and muscular (in his thin t-shirt). Lily is beautiful with “tawny trails of hair.” He has dark eyes; she has eyes like blue sapphires. His hands are rough, but his touch gentle; she is “refined but bold.” The electricity starts when Jake jumps on top of Lily to protect her from flying fireworks debris. Then he applies a bandage to her knee. For Jake, the feel of Lily’s skin is “rooted in his mind like a lovely haunting melody;” And as for Lily: “The feelings wept into her heart like a pat of butter on warm grits.”

Makes me think of biscuits. But anyway….

Lily and Jake are immediately drawn to each other, and spend a blissful two nights together. Lily thinks she has only found love for the first time. But in her small, Southern town with its conservative ways and her important parents, a choice in favor of passion over duty is not so easy to make. Which should it be, she wonders, and how will she live with her decision either way?

Evaluation: I don’t quite understand how this book gets to be a work of “literary fiction” instead of “romance novel” or just “dreck” but obviously this business is as foreign to me as a pile of ketchup on a mess of pancakes. …to paraphrase the author….

In spite of everything, I cried at the end. Yes of course I did! I cry at pizza commercials, for heaven’s sakes!

I feel relatively confident this book will be made into a gloppy, soppy movie with lots of beautiful pyrotechnics and beautiful actors and actresses. And it will be as successful as, well, as ice cream melting over a slice of sweet potato pie! But personally, I’m thinking I’ll skip the movie…

Rating: 2/5

Published by St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books, 2010

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24 Responses to Review of “Fireworks Over Toccoa” by Jeffrey Stepakoff

  1. caite says:

    oh yes, you can see the movie coming. with a lot of violins!

    I have to agree with your opinion. in fact you liked it even less than me. I just could not buy the romance..at all. And I didn’t much like Lily.

    But I think the author is a good writer, liked the parts about the town, her parents, the fireworks.
    If you like sappy romances, you might like this. but I don’t.
    Even though I have cried at many a Hallmark commercial..lol

  2. Meghan says:

    My mom got a copy of this from Amazon Vine and somehow I wound up with a copy as well. I don’t plan to read it, so I’m just going to post her review on my blog at some point. I will never understand why some books that are romance novels end up in literary fiction or sometimes historical fiction (and then I’m amused when the people who adore them turn their nose up at straight romance novels, since they just read something exactly the same packaged differently). It’s all just marketing, I think! This one sounds like its attempts to be literary make it funny instead. 😉

  3. Calling something literary fiction doesn’t make it literary fiction, and this is a perfect example.

    Also, I think “makes me think of biscuits” might be the funniest thing I’ve read in a book review in a long time. And I’m glad I turned down the pitch on this one….but I’m glad you read it so I could read this fun review.

  4. Steph says:

    Well, it does have a pretty cover… but one that does seem pretty “romance novel” to me!

    Sad to hear this didn’t melt your heart like a pad of butter (which I think is supposed technically be a pat of butter, but whatever), but it did cause you to write a great review! 😉

  5. Barbara says:

    You always make me chuckle, and I think the flowery prose in this book would have me rolling on the floor laughing. Unless I get really depressed, I think I’ll pass.

  6. Jill, I don’t even need to read the book to answer your query about why this is “literary fiction” and not a “romance novel”. Look at the name of the author. He’s called Jeffrey. Had it been by “Jemima” that would have made it a romance.

    Hope that sorts out your confusion.

    Nice cover btw. A good looking guy with his shirt *on*. Innovative.

  7. JoAnn says:

    Funny, I’m writing a mini-review for Marcelo in the Real World and was wondering about the whole classification thing, too. Think I’ll pass on this book though;-)

  8. Julie P. says:

    I’m just getting ready to start this one. Gushy, romance, eh? Well it’s something different for me then!

  9. Florinda says:

    I was going to answer your question the same way Linda G. did – it’s “literary fiction” because it’s a male author. Hopefully it’s better-written than the last time that happened – The Bridges of Madison County, which this novel sounds a bit too similar to for my taste. I’m skipping this one.

  10. Ti says:

    I think you were hungry when you wrote this post. Lots of food references and of course, now I’M hungry.

    I passed this one up. I can’t do books that aren’t intellectually stimulating in some way. That sounds snobbish of me to say but my brain goes spongy from work stuff, so when I read, I need something that challenges the grey matter a bit.

  11. Belle says:

    What Linda wrote was my first thought, too. The bits of description you included definitely brought to mind a romance novel. I always like having a good cry over a novel when I’m in a particular kind of mood! And now for some reason I’m thinking about flaky, buttery, warm from the oven biscuits.

  12. softdrink says:

    Biscuits? I like honey on mine, please.

    I cry whenever I watch those home makeover shows. You know the one…they help a family in need by tearing down their old house and building a spectacular new one. I rarely watch it, but it gets me every time. And half the time, I doubt the story!

  13. Your review made me laugh in several spots. Now I hope I can get through my copy of this without thinking of food!! 😀

  14. Jenners says:

    Jeez … were you hungry when you wrote this or what? Though the ketchup on the pancakes kind of ruined it for me.

    I’m not really in this kind of mood … but perhaps I will be someday and I’ll know just what to get!

  15. EL Fay says:

    Oh well. It may be soppy but what a beautiful, evocative cover!

  16. Nymeth says:

    lol – I’ll skip the book/movie, but I loved your review.

    I’ve been known to cry at commercials too :S Not pizza ones yet, but surely it’s only a matter of time 😛

  17. Lisa says:

    This will be a pass for me!

  18. bermudaonion says:

    I just got a copy of this today and now I don’t think it’s for me.

  19. Meg says:

    I’m sorry you weren’t too fond of this one, but I always enjoy the reviews of books you didn’t like! Haha. 🙂 I mean that in the very nicest way — you’re too funny.

    I thought this one sounded really good and immediately set about getting an ARC, which is sitting in my bookcase right now. The cover is gorgeous!

    I’m sure you’re right about it being turned into a movie someday… and I wonder if it being “literary fiction” versus a “romance novel” has to do with the author being male…? Like Nicholas Sparks, say, who is definitely categorized in the fiction and not romance category in bookstores. Definitely food for thought!

  20. stacybuckeye says:

    I love the cover but your review and rating have scared me off.

  21. I received a copy of this last week, and now I’m hesitant to read it. I’m not big on romance novels, and now I’m worried this one is heavy on the cheese. Well, I’ll find out soon enough. 🙂

    –Anna

  22. I just started this book yesterday. I do agree that this is more romance than lit fic.

  23. Pingback: Jeffrey Stepakoff – Fireworks Over Toccoa « Fyrefly's Book Blog

  24. Pingback: Review of Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffery Stepakoff | Good Books And Good Wine

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