Every summer, Gray Barnes and his eighteen-year-old daughter, Evie, open up their farm in the foothills of South Carolina to Kip Kierkin’s Carnival of Wonder. The carnival attracts hordes of locals and out-of-towners, and it brings in the extra cash that Gray and his daughter need to keep the family estate running. Evie decided long ago that she wants nothing to do with the carnival or the farm that her dad so desperately works to keep afloat. She doesn’t understand her father’s appreciation for the land or the work that it takes to maintain it, but that’s all about to change when she meets Finch Mills. Finch is a lifer – a carny since birth. He’s spent all of his twenty-two years on the circuit and longs for a different path. He’s never paid much attention to Evie, not until this eventful summer of 1978.
What a hidden gem this book was?! I got it recommended by a book friend as a great summer read and it was just that and more.
This is the story of Evelyn or Evie as everyone calls her and is set in the late 1970s. She’s an 18 year old girl, living on a farm with her father, Gray, her dog Tripod and her pet ox Miles. Every year, her dad rents out a part of their land for Kip Kierkin’s Carnival of Wonder. This helps them keep their farm going so it’s a necessary evil as Evie sees it. This is how she meets Finch and his adoptive family, Fredrick, Doris and Mouse, the carnival’s ‘freaks’. The book is in a way Evie’s story of survival and her understanding that family means being surrounded by people who love and help you without asking for anything in return.
Told from a third person multiple POV, Kiss Me Hard Before You Go lets us see what goes on inside the head of most of the characters involved in this story and I didn’t find it hard to keep up with at all – I actually really liked it.
“You’re like the sun.[…] You brighten my day and give it life.”
Evie is an incredible heroine – she’s feisty, caring, considerate, loves her father and BFF, Katie – she’s more mature than her 18 years of age. I liked her spunk when meeting Finch – she kept him at a distance for quite a while and he had to work to get her to share herself with him – emotionally speaking.
“Don’t try, just be, Finch, cause I like you just as you are.”
Finch is another reason why I liked this book – he’s a great romance hero – he’s attentive, gentlemanly – you wouldn’t think that considering he was raised in a carnival – and helpful – he’s there for everyone that he cares for and not only.
“I still felt empty because no matter how much you love something, if it don’t love you back, you ain’t ever going to be content.”
Their romance had a very slow build up which is refreshing – they talked, went on dates, had dinner together – all the things that make me believe that this is true love – yes, even in books, we need the wooing in order to be able to connect with a certain couple. I liked their interaction – it was fun and sweet, but also deep and meaningful. Both Evie and Finch were holding back because of the way they were raised, but in the end they needed one another to realize there’s more to life than just being content with ‘right now’. Finch showed Evie it’s alright to ask for help and no one will judge you for that, and Evie showed him, how wonderful life can be if you just settle in one place instead of just ‘passing through’.
The book had a suspense element to it that kept me intrigued all the way through – let’s just say the bad guy wasn’t who I predicted and I’m usually never wrong 😉 I’m really excited to get to book 2 and see this story progress – it ended beautifully, but I want more ❤
Kiss Me Hard Before You Go is currently FREE
Shannon McCrimmon was born and raised in Central Florida. She attended Rollins College and earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling. In 2008, she moved to the upstate of South Carolina. It was the move that inspired her to write her first novel. She currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband and toy poodle. She’d love to hear from you! Connect with her at shannonmccrimmon.com