Desperate to leave behind her difficult life in Boston, and start anew, Penelope Martin answers a summons for a school teacher in Seattle, even though she isn't really qualified for the position. Upon arriving by steamboat in the frontier town, Penny discovers that her new "employer" is a precocious little girl named Eliza who says she wants Penny to be her governess. Having nowhere else to go, Penny agrees to stay, and she and Eliza are getting along famously until Eliza's father, Joshua Cooper, returns home from one of his frequent, lengthy business trips.
Josh is none to happy to learn that Eliza has hired her own governess, and even less pleased to know that his daughter's intentions were actually of a more personal nature. She has been craving female influence in her life and after hearing of a successful mail-order bride service in Seattle, Eliza thought that she could talk her father into marrying Penny so she could have a real family again. Neither Josh nor Penny is having anything to do with Eliza's plan though, and Josh informs Penny that he will be paying for her passage back to Boston on the next steamer out the following week. However, living in the same house for a week, their mutual love for Eliza and a freak storm, bring them closer together than they had intended, and with a little help from a magical wedding gown, they may have a chance at love after all.
I do hope readers will forgive my triteness, but I have to say that I found Something Special to truly be "something special." It was a sweet romance that was very enjoyable to read. Unlike the first two novellas in The True Love Wedding Dress anthology in which this story is found, I actually found myself looking forward to picking it up again each time I had to put it down. I thought that the plot was very tight and the characters were very likable. I am not usually drawn to not-so-bright heroines, but Penny was a real sweetheart. It didn't take me long to realize that she was really a product of a lack of education rather than a lack of intelligence. Penny was very street-smart, and when anyone took the time to help her out, she was actually a quick study academically. I initially had a few misgivings about Josh leaving his daughter, Eliza, for such long stretches of time without parental involvement and with minimal female guidance, but he proved to be a very loving and caring father who had just been trying to build a successful business. Eliza was an adorable and precocious child who was simply too smart for her own good, and Seamus Macgorrie, their reluctant nanny, cook and housekeeper was good for some amusement with his dry wit and wisdom.
I also liked the rather unique setting of historical Seattle, Washington. As I have said in some of my other reviews, love at first sight romances are not really my favorites, but lately I have a found a few authors who have made me rethink my position. Casey Claybourne has become one of them. She infused the narrative with just enough tender emotions to make the short time frame of the relationship development actually seem believable to me. It is a very rare novella on which I am able to bestow keeper status, but I am going to do exactly that with Something Special. This was my first read by Ms. Claybourne, and in fact, I had not even heard of her until reading this story. After such an enjoyable reading experience though, I will definitely be checking out her other works.
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