The Marriage Lottery #16 The Singer by Caty Callahan is a sweet romance set in a post-apocalyptic future where a virus has decimated the population and men outnumber women about a dozen to one.
10 out of 10 stars. I have yet to read any of Caty’s novels that I don’t fall in love with. They are true romances where the men who treat women well are rewarded with wives and the men who don’t live and die bitter and alone.
If you follow both the The Marriage Lottery series and The Bride Lottery series, then you’ve probably figured out The Marriage Lottery series is more Old Testament and The Bride Lottery is more New Testament. The Marriage Lottery series has more adult subjects including this one which deals with the murder-suicide of the heroine’s parents.
Penelope Jameson is in love with Warren Peterson, a gorgeous hunk who sings and plays the guitar every Saturday night at the dance hall all through the summer. She’s been in love with him for four years and she’s not the only girl infatuated with him. But Warren can’t stand Penelope’s younger brothers who keep trashing his musical equipment. The only time Warren even speaks to her is to yell at her about her bratty brothers.
Then one night everything changes. Her brothers finally go too far and set Warren’s amplifier cord on fire. Desperate for any kind of attention, even the bad kind, they beg the magistrate to arrest them so their dad will have to come and get them out of jail. The magistrate, Warren, and Penelope all play along, hoping the boys will behave better after this little plea for attention. But when Penelope goes home to get their dad, he’s dead. Their mom was dying and in a great deal of pain, so he ended her suffering then took his own life, leaving Penelope to raise her three brothers.
That pivotal evening changes all of the major players in this story. For Penelope, it changes her perspective on men. She completely loses interest in Warren and falls in love with Paul, the young magistrate who helps her through everything. For Warren, he’s entrusted with housing and caring for the Jameson kids until the blood is cleaned in the house. It’s the first time he’s ever really talked to Penelope and he already starts to fall in love with her only to see Paul sweep her right off her feet. For Paul, it’s the first time he’s allowed himself to fall in love again since his first girlfriend entered the lottery without him and got hitched.
What quickly evolves is a love triangle of the weirdest sorts and male bonding between the two men involved with Penny who trip over themselves trying to be fair to the other guy. That’s not the way to get the girl.
There’s a subplot with Penelope’s brother Peter who is in love with a girl who will enter the lottery six years before him. So she’ll be long married before he’s even lottery age. But he can’t seem to stop himself from loving her, even though she doesn’t know he exists. As much as Penelope tries to steer him toward a girl his own age, he doesn’t listen. Then Warren tells him the same thing, suggesting he find a girl like Penelope, and Peter suddenly sees what his sister has been trying to tell him. So there are actually two plots in the story that involve male bonding and the bromances that end up ruining romances.
The other “more adult subject matter” has to do with the burial of Penelope’s parents. In this world the church is a place where people socialize and grieve. But many people, including most reverends, believe that a man who commits the cardinal sin of murder or suicide should not be buried on hallowed ground which means he can’t be buried in the church cemetery with his wife. What do you do if you know your parents wanted to be buried together and the reverend refuses to allow your father to be buried with your mother because he committed not one but two of these cardinal sins? That subject is handled well.
10 out of 10 stars. I loved the twist at the end. Here’s a man who took something he hated (church) and turned it into something he loved to make his future wife happy. Smart fellow.