Historical Romance has certain advantages. For one, they’re usually set during times and places when there were a lot more social and even legal restrictions on which relationships were acceptable and how they were conducted. This leads to a lot more potential Conflict. Throw that into an Inspirational category and you ratchet it up even more. Because there’s no on-the-page nookie. The author is required to focus on the emotional development of the relationship and making it work in a practical sense. It makes for a lot more believability, if you’ve been married for decades like I have.
Ward and Hazel have known each other since they were kids. She was his little sister’s best friend and he took her devotion for granted. Ward’s little sister, Bethany, fell and, apparently, suffered a head injury which led to mental illness. This story is set over a century ago and out in the Wild West, so things like this weren’t well-understood. Ward blamed himself for not being there and making things safe.
The story starts a few years later with Ward on his way home after Bethany dies. He’s the Sherriff of Turnabout and Hazel is an established seamstress way past her expiration date in the marriage market. And he still takes her devotion for granted. Even though they’re all grown up, he still resists thinking of her as more than a friend. In fact, he was so traumatized by Bethany’s accident and death that he firmly believes total devotion to his job is the only way to go. And I’m thinking, ‘Good grief, did he really go all this time without even a girlfriend?” Well, I took a while to settle down too, so I can buy that.
So, Hazel’s taken care of all the details related to the funeral and Ward’s escorting the deceased home on a train. That’s where he meets Meg, a little girl who takes a liking to Hazel’s dog, Pugs, who is riding along with Ward. Meg’s big sister, disguised as her big brother, subsequently abandons the little girl with Ward.
I loved how good Ward was with the little girl, very good-natured fatherly, the kind of guy a woman who wants to be mommy is going to fall desperately in love with.
Ward has his little sister’s funeral and a string of crimes in town to deal with and now guardianship of a little girl too. At least, Meg is pottytrained. Naturally for that time and place, he tries to find a woman to care for Meg while he tries to find her birth-family. He assumes Hazel will be that woman. She’s always been happy to help in the past.
But, Hazel’s had enough of being taken for granted. She wants the real thing or she’s outta there. Literally. She’s planning to move back to New York to work with her aunt. Of course, she loves Ward and wants to marry, have children, and live happily ever after. But, she needs to be loved too.
Being an honorable man, Ward juggles his three major obligations with Hazel’s help during the day, even though she won’t just take the little girl in. He’s determined to find the girl’s family and the criminals and do everything right. Then, Hazel alerts him to criminal activity in the middle of the night and the next morning gossipy townfolk see her leaving his house and it doesn’t matter that she was only there to babysit while he was tracking down the baddies.
Ward decides they need to get engaged. It’s the honorable thing to do. Yeah, I was ready to slap him too.
Hazel is reluctant because she knows it’s not about love. She keeps moving towards her plan for New York.
Make no mistake, Ward does love Hazel. But, she’s smart enough to know that’s not enough. He’s got to declare it and show that she is the one he wants to spend the rest of life with, loving and raising a family together.
Getting there is suspenseful and the source of criminal mischief is unexpected. You’ll hand in there to the end.
The characters in this book are believable. I’ve met people like them, men so wrapped up in their work and women so hung up on them. This kind of couple can easily fall into a passive-aggressive trap in which neither get their needs met. I won’t spoil the story for you, but, rest assured, this is a Romance novel. Therefore, you are promised a Happily Ever After. If you read regularly in this genre, you know that.
Like I said, this kind of book is great for believability. You can get swept away, confident that, yes, Happily Ever Afters really do happen and this is why. I understand some people prefer to escape into fantasy. Personally, I prefer all the above. I’m a buffet kind of reader.
Winnie Griggs has an impressive and growing book list. Pop over to her site to learn all about them and to keep up with any New Releases- http://www.winniegriggs.com/about_winnie.php
If you want a publisher to keep on publishing your favorite authors and books like those they write, then remember to always buy New when you can and tell all your friends to do the same. This is how authors get paid and most can’t quit their day jobs. Ever.