From the cover of Sam ’n’ Patty’s 1st Adventure Hidden Gems by Jerry Dawson we can infer that there might be some follow-up stories coming. That is true, there is a three-story series that follows Sam and Patty plus other novels written by this author. I received an author request to read and review this short novel. I was quite happy with the reading experience because I learned new things presented in an entertaining way. This short adventure novel should appeal to the YA crowd. I couldn’t find anything offensive as far as language or cultural slights. The author does take aim at a “southern” way of speaking that can become so pronounced it borders on unintelligible but the observations are appreciative, not critical.
Sam is a free-lance photographer and has to hustle in order to perfect his photographic skills while developing his marketing skills to make money. He is becoming increasingly better at this and has confidence in future success. Patty is a newcomer to the world of marketing herself. A free-lance journalist, she is disappointed with her performance and seeming lack of success. The two meet in a diner and discuss their current projects. Sam sees an opportunity to take photos of restaurants and food that Patty is writing about. The two should be able to make money as they combine their talents. And Patty happens to be attractive. And Sam happens to be handsome.
There are ten chapters in this short book. In the first four, the reader will perhaps find new information about “extreme” rural life. The hills of North Carolina have twisting roads; several of them may be unpaved. The word Hidden in the title can refer to hidden diners or restaurants. In one case there is a hidden gem museum attached to a business where customers can pay to go into nearby woods and look for gems that might be found in streams. Hidden means out-of-the-way and it is a mystery that some of these endeavors can survive economically with the small number of people that constitute the local customer base. The first four chapters use good descriptive writing to set up a base for the rest of the story. These chapters are a comfortable entertaining read that will be nostalgic for readers who have lived in this area of the US. We learn of Brunswick stew and secret ingredients used by chefs to produce cuisine available nowhere else.
The final six chapters take a sharp turn towards action. There is a theft, a kidnapping, attempted mayhem by shooters who seem fairly incompetent, and a gem that changes ownership a lot. The action is embedded in a story of a burgeoning romance that grows as Patty learns to trust the dependability and innovative thinking of Sam. Patty demonstrates a remarkable ability to control animals while confined in a dog pen while Sam gnaws his way through Patty’s ropes. There is a lot of action described with droll, understated humor.
There are some surprises. None are massive knock-you-down surprises, several are amusing. Readers should pay attention to secret ingredients of many of the dishes evaluated by Patty. Important to Patty and less important to Sam, he will probably pay more attention after this adventure.
This is a fun, short read. It was entertaining enough for me that I will read others in the series.