At the age of sixteen, Charlene "Charly" Phelps gave birth to a baby out of wedlock, and the whole incident turned her into an outcast in her small Southern community. After her father forced her to give the baby up for adoption, Charly shook the dust of Mourning Spring, Alabama off her feet and never looked back. For the past twenty years, she has worked hard to make something of herself, so that she could return home with her head held high. Now a successful L. A. attorney, she is set to be maid of honor to her best friend who happens to be getting married near Charly's hometown. Unbeknownst to her friend, Charly sets out for the wedding early intending to make a quick visit to Mourning Springs, thinking to make peace with the father she left behind. That is until she sees pictures of a boy with a familiar face. The past comes crashing in around her, and Charly takes off in an emotional state. Driving erratically, she ends up in an accident and finds herself thrown in the local jail.
Troy Starr was doing some handyman work for his brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law, Mirabella, who were out of town. When the phone rings, he thinks it is them and answers only to find Mirabella's friend, Charly on the line. When Troy hears that Charly has been arrested, he doesn't want to worry Mirabella, so he takes off for Mourning Springs, believing that it will be a quick trip to bail the lady out of jail and get her to the wedding in time. Upon arriving though, he finds a woman who is much more complex than he would have imagined and who desperately needs his help. Charly's emotional vulnerability and Troy's loneliness combine to create an unforgettable night of passion, leaving Troy stunned at how much he is coming to care about this woman in so short a time, but Charly is stubborn, independent, and doesn't want to need Troy. It will take all the kindness and gentle care Troy can muster to get Charly to open up about the past and make peace with her family, so that they can all hopefully build a future together.
One More Knight is a heartfelt, emotional story of a woman's journey back to the home town to which she swore she would never return twenty years before and her efforts to overcome the pain of the past. I had really enjoyed the first book in the The Sisters Waskowitz series, but as good as it was, I don't think it prepared me for how lovely and poignant this book would be. Kathleen Creighton has a beautiful way with words. She's very talented at describing the settings and gestures of the characters in a detailed and almost poetic way which really drew me into the story. She is not only great at setting the scene, but also the mood and tone which wonderfully conveys the emotion and tension that Charly felt as she faced down her demons. I also liked the way that the story of why Charly left her hometown twenty years ago unfolded slowly through her teenage diary entries from that time. It perfectly complimented the events of the present day and kept me reading to find out exactly what had happened.
Charly is a smart, independent woman who has worked hard for the past twenty years to become a successful attorney. She always felt that she had to make something of herself before she could return to Mourning Spring. Although she thinks that she has tamped down the pain of giving her baby up for adoption all those years ago, coming "back home" nearly devastates her, especially after she sees a photo of the young man who she knows in her heart is the son she left behind. On top of that, facing her father after all this time, makes her feel like the same confused, sixteen year-old all over again. In spite of having a stubborn, independent streak in her, Charly never irritated me like some heroines who fit this description would. I think this was because she was still smart enough to realize when she needed help. She also exhibited a great deal of vulnerability, and even though it scared her and was a foreign feeling to have someone else take care of her, she slowly allowed Troy into her life and willingly turned herself over to his very capable hands.
Troy is a fabulous hero. If it weren't for the fact that he's an ex-Navy SEAL, I'd have him pegged as a beta like his brother, Jimmy Joe. Troy is just a really nice guy who seems to enjoy helping others out and would do almost anything for anybody. What he thought was a simple mission to rescue his future sister-in-law's maid of honor turns into something more very quickly. Troy has been feeling rather lonely, watching his brother so happy with his soon-to-be wife, so he's quite open to the idea that he might have just found his own lady love even if she does come with a lot of baggage. He truly does become Charly's knight in shining armor, riding to her rescue at a time in her life when everything was falling apart and she needed him the most. I like how Troy isn't all that concerned with how Charly looks, but instead is drawn in by her eyes and all the pain he sees mirrored there. He is very intuitive to figure out that there is more going on in Charly's life than what he can see on the surface and what she's initially telling him. I love how he just wants to be there for her to ease her heartache and occasionally just sweeps in and takes over, but in a gentle, non-threatening way. Troy just always has Charly's back and is looking out for her well-being. I also thoroughly enjoyed his interactions with his pup, Bubba. The man is obviously a dog lover.:-)
I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about the future of this couple's relationship when they had sex the first night they met. This usually isn't my favorite plot device, but in this case, I at least understood that Charly was feeling vulnerable and didn't want to be alone after experiencing one of the worst days of her life. Troy, for his part, was feeling a little lonely too, and being a man, wasn't about to turn down a willing, passionate woman. There is a part of me that wishes the story could have been drawn out over a longer period of time. The bulk of it takes place in only a few days, so the romance is definitely played as love at first sight. Again this is something I typically have a hard time buying into, but somehow the author pulled it off and by the end, I believed Troy and Charly did love each other very much. I liked how Troy held back later on, wanting their love-making to be more than just something to ease Charly's pain. Ms. Creighton also slowed things down a bit between them and allowed them to have some really intimate moments where they were able to share their hearts with one another. I found the late-night picnic in the park to be thoroughly romantic.
One More Knight had some strong secondary characters. It was fun seeing Jimmy Joe and Mirabella (One Christmas Knight) again. I love that they're still so happy together and about to be married. Charly's father, her son, and her old housekeeper, the woman who raised her and was like a mother to her, were all well-written supporting players. I liked how everything came together in the end to give this family a happy ending that tugged on my heartstrings. It just goes to show that HEAs aren't just for the hero and heroine. There is also a little preview of Mirabella's sisters, Summer and Eve, who become the heroines of the next two books in the series, One Summer's Knight and Eve's Wedding Knight, as well as mention of a couple of Troy's siblings, Roy and Joy Lynn, who are featured in the spin-off Starrs of the West series.
Overall, One More Knight was a touching, small-town, family drama mingled with a sweet romance. Considering the shorter Silhouette length, I thought the author did a great job with the character and plot development. I just couldn't help but become invested in their lives and the outcome. My only minor complaint would be that Charly's friend Colin's secret was never revealed in so many words unless I missed something important. I think maybe it was one of those read between the lines kind of things that I'm sometimes good at and sometimes not. I have my theories, but was a little disappointed that it wasn't revealed in a way in which I could confirm my suspicions. Other than that, this was a truly lovely story that I'll be placing on my keeper shelf, and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.
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