Pamela Morsi used to write wonderful Americana romances in the 90s, and I’m glad to see that her humor and poignant understanding of human behavior is still very much in evidence with her shift to contemporaries. The Bikini Car Wash feels a lot like her older historicals because of the small town setting and the ensemble cast. There have never been a ton of authors that wrote good Americana or Frontier Western romances, but Morsi is one of the best because of the way she portrays small town life with a realistic and sympathetic hand. Her characters are always drawn with lots of affectionate humor without ever reverting to caricatures, and she has a knack for bringing out the humanity in any situation and making it identifiable to the reader.
In The Bikini Car Wash, our heroine, Andi Wolkowicz, has left a successful career in Chicago to come back to her hometown of Plainview, TX after her mother dies. She plans to live with her dad and help him take care of her developmentally disabled sister, Jelly. But once she gets to town she realizes how hard it will be to find a new job. The town is small and Andi is grossly overqualified for the few available jobs, yet the townspeople tend to view her as a big-city outsider they don’t want to hire over their own. After learning that her father still owns the building site of his old business, a car wash, Andi decides to reopen it with a new gimmick: an all-female staff wearing only bikinis. Business explodes on their first day open with lines stretching out into the street, at least until the cops show up and outraged townspeople start protesting.
Meanwhile, Pete Guthrie, owner of the grocery store next door and Andi’s old high school classmate, starts pursuing Andi while his town councilman father plays villain in trying to shut her down. Andi faces the naysayers and stands up for her business and the women in her employ, while juggling family issues and finding romance with Pete.The result is a fun, feel-good read.
I’m glad to report that Morsi has not lost her touch in moving to a contemporary setting, and that her titles veering into women’s fiction still contain plenty of romance. Recommended for those curious about easing into romance via women’s fiction or anyone looking for something light, funny, and romantic.