Emma Marchant runs the Marchant Inn with her brother and his wife. She's not unhappy, just not very enthusiastic about her prospects in life. Although still young, most girls her age are married already, and Emma simply hasn't had a lot of offers. None she would want to take, anyway. That all changes when Thatcher Deakon and his brother walk into the Marchant Inn. Thatcher is handsome and nice. He compliments her and makes her feel special. But there's always something to pull the rug out from under her.
Thatcher Deakon has no plans to get married. No plans to court anyone, but he's immediately taken by pretty Emma Marchant. As he gets to know her, he sees her self-confidence is fragile and, try as he might, he can't help but fall for her.
This was a sweet story set in a small town in the American west, which is a nice break from the typical setting of historical novels. Emma and Thatcher are adorable together and, even though it's an instant attraction, the chemistry works.
I have to admit, though, that Emma's lack of self-confidence began to grate. There was no tangible reason for her to allow others to tear her down. The "secret fire" was definitely missing for most of the novel. I also have a problem with romantic leads who jump to conclusions about each other that are negative. It undermines the romance when characters think so poorly of one another that they would assume the worst. I understand that it's a manifestation of the character's low self-esteem, but it still undermines what should be a positive force in that person's life.
Ultimately, my complaints were soothed slightly by the sweetness of the story. There is no sex and the characters don't have deep, dark secrets. They each have some angst but it's rather mundane and that was actually refreshing and relatable. The prose is a bit clunky and the aforementioned lack of spine and jumping to conclusions do get in the way, but I was definitely rooting for Emma and Thatcher by the end.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
*Reviewed by guest reviewer, Beanbag Love.
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