Title: Falling Uphill by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery
Book Rating: B+
Review Copy Obtained from Author
Ruth Fenton is dead, but what does that have to do with me?” That’s what Candace Grey, 29, wants to know after receiving a puzzling phone message from San Francisco. A bright, but slightly absent-minded anthropology teacher at a small Michigan college, Candace is all set to leave for Los Angeles to conduct research on 1960s TV star Pamela Parrish—America’s Sitcom Sweetheart—for her Master’s thesis on television and female gender roles. But after discovering that Ruth Fenton is a long lost relative, she’s first off to San Francisco for her memorial service where she meets a crazy(?) old lady who claims Pamela Parrish didn’t commit suicide like everybody says—she was murdered. Now Candace has to get to the bottom of it, all while fighting the nagging feeling that her long-time professor boyfriend back home is getting a little too close to one of his students, and at the same time wondering if new-found friend Brandon, a newspaper reporter and budding painter who lives on a hidden stairway street in the hills of San Francisco, is really the guy for her. It’s a funny, but moving, uphill climb for Candace who finds that things are rarely what they seem in the ups and downs of love or in discovering a surprising secret about her not-so-perfect mother, or unearthing the truth behind the death of America’s Sitcom Sweetheart.
Falling Uphill by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga is a vastly entertaining and light-hearted novel that is a delightful mix of romance and mystery. Candace Grey’s research into Pamela Parrish’s death raises some unsettling questions. Did Pamela Parrish commit suicide or was she murdered? Candace must also discover the answer to an equally important question. Is her longtime boyfriend Jeff Sands cheating on her?
Falling Uphill is a fabulously written story with richly drawn three dimensional characters. Candace Grey is a wonderful protagonist who is immensely appealing. Candace is caring woman who makes friends easily. She has a marvelous sense of humor and easily bounces back from difficult situations.
The secondary cast of characters is equally well-developed and likable. Longtime friend Laney Svensson is the best type of friend-loyal, true and willing to do anything in the name of friendship. Despite their less than stellar first meeting, Riley Davis quickly becomes a close confidante. Brandon Treadwell is sexy, fun and his friendship proves invaluable as Candace’s life takes some unexpected turns.
The mystery surrounding Pamela Parrish’s death is quite compelling and interesting. Ms. Tokunaga does a wonderful job building anticipation as Candace closes in on the truth of what caused Pamela’s death. As a fan of classic television and old movies, I especially enjoyed the nostalgic look back at the earlier glamorous years in Hollywood.
Falling Uphill is an engaging novel with a wonderful cast of eclectic characters and a fresh, unpredictable storyline. Wendy Nelson Tokunaga’s vivid descriptions of San Francisco and Los Angeles bring this engaging story vibrantly to life. An enjoyable heroine, a clever mystery and a beautifully understated romance make Falling Uphill a must read for anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction.