Dear Ms Jones,
Every once in a while, a sweet, lovely story like this crosses my path and I’m always a better person and lucky reader for it. By rights, the blurb shouldn’t have grabbed my attention as it features a widow with a child, striking out on her own and is obviously the last book in a series. I should have been running for the hills but something about the cover wouldn’t let me. So go cover artists at Harlequin!
Renovating and selling her late husband’s cabin is just the chance young widow Charity O’Clare needs. With the money from the sale, she and her daughter can move to the city–away from her family! Of course, as soon as she gets to tiny Mt. Knott, South Carolina, Charity finds a whole new family stew. Jason “Lucky Dawg” Burdett may be the handsomest man she’s ever seen, but his meddlesome relatives are the last thing she needs. Still, Charity didn’t count on Jason becoming her daughter’s hero–or swaying her own heart. And now, she has to choose between old dreams of independence…and new dreams of love.
The Jason x Charity conflict is subtle but real. He has always taken care of or been asked to do for others and she’s the one person who doesn’t want anyone doing for her since her parents-in-law have smothered her that way. He is seen by his family as “lucky,” hence the name, but not one who really does much more than put out little fires and certainly not as an integral part of the family business. While Charity knows that this is probably her last chance to stand on her own or risk sinking into the caring quicksand of her in-law’s need to assuage their grief that they couldn’t help their deceased son during his downward spiral.
Her conflict with them isn’t unreasonable either and not the usual spouse vs in-law stuff we see. When you first introduced the fact that Charity was almost fleeing from her in-laws, I was afraid that they would be some kind of monsters hell bent on taking Olivia. I agree that this is probably just their natural tendency crossed with grief over the loss of their son. Since they couldn’t ‘save’ him, they’ll work twice as hard on the ones they have left, Charity, Olivia and their second son.
The death of his older brother will affect Davey, probably in different ways, for the rest of his life and his problems could certainly be natural result of this. A friend of mine lost a child years ago and her younger child has suffered from the grief for years. Her struggles to help this child let me better understand the dynamics going on in the O’Clare family.
Livie is a great child. She acts like 9 year old, getting very independent and forming/voicing her own thoughts and feelings. Yet she’s still in that exuberant stage as well. She’s also starting to realize that actions have consequences and beginning to grapple with how she’ll handle that fact as you show with the fishing contest.
I like Charity and Olivia’s relationship. How Charity encourages her daughter to try things and how she doesn’t take over at the first inkling that Liv might falter. She’d be no better than her in-laws’ smothering. Children hear more and understand more than parents or adults like to imagine they do. From personal experience, I agree with Charity’s policy of not lying or covering up things. It only confuses a child and in the end, the truth usually comes out anyway thus giving the parent an additional issue to deal with with the child.
Jason feels guilty about all the blessings he has, that he hasn’t earned them. Which ties in with Biblical admonishment that no one can “earn” God’s love or blessings. That God gives them freely and we should be good, but realize that we can’t “make deals with God” to earn more or be better.
The advice from Jason to Charity that she wasn’t “at fault” for the choices Sean made in life is good. That Sean was the one who chose how he dealt with his life and the opportunities he had. I like that she comes to realize that someone to have your back is a good thing. But also that she needs to stand up for herself, exert herself and take control of her relationship with her in-laws. Being passive just won’t work and will only lead to hurt feelings all around.
I’m glad you addressed the whirlwind aspect of this romance. This is one thing that does bug me in romance novels. Knowing you’re attracted to someone is one thing but getting ready to get married and spend, hopefully, the rest of your life with someone who you barely know is another. These two have seen each other in trying times and appear to have the basis for a good start. Though I hope their engagement is longer than 3 weeks.
I like the small town setting but agree, as when Charity questions Liv about it, that it would take some getting used to. Especially a town where you are part of a prominent family. Though this is the tale end of a series, I didn’t feel lost, nor overwhelmed with characters from past books.
I enjoyed Jason’s slow, easy going sense of humor. And that Charity shares it with him. That he’s willing to put her needs – for independence – above his own but that he’s got the courage to go for what he wants. I had a great time reading the story and hope to go back and catch up on the rest of the Burdett family. B+