Do you ever have certain expectations when you get ready to read a book? Lots of times I don’t. I just see a book, think it sounds interesting, and I buy it. With this book, it was different for me. I followed a blog tour where I read author interviews, excerpts and reviews which convinced me that this would be a wonderful read. With the book actually in my hand prepared to read it, I had that moment when I stared down at the great cover and took a deep breath of anticipation. Some time later, after letting the back cover fall shut with my little sigh of contentment, I can now say that this book exceeded my expectations.
I know- you want me to get on with the review already.
The book leans more toward a sweet romance with its solid conventional down home feel. I enjoyed the quirky Minnesotan talk and could almost hear the accent come up from the pages. There are a few scenes in the hero’s rock world, but most of the story takes place in small town Minnesota. The story switches point of view between the two main characters, Gray and Abby. There are breaks that make this easy to follow. They thought so differently that it was interesting getting their take on things. There were several scenes that had me laughing and sighing. The time when he serenaded her in the kitchen and the time at the campfire were beautifully written. But the one that was both funny and sigh worthy was the long opening scene when Abby and Gray work on getting her hay in out of the rain and then are found by the neighbors in a case of bad timing.
The plot has, for lack of a better term, a fairy tale quality with a strong emphasis on the value of family to the story. The son of a big-name rock star and supermodel runs away from boarding school to hide out at a small farm where his identity is unknown. After his whereabouts are discovered, his famous dad, Gray Covey, comes to the farm of Abby Stadtler. Instead of the planned quick extraction of his son and return to his concert tour, Gray, who has been struggling to write music and stay focused on his work, finds an angry teen boy who challenges him to prove his claim to love and care for his son. Gray does the unthinkable by taking up the challenge and canceling six concerts to prove to Dawson that he does care which has the unexpected effect of bringing back those parts of himself that he had lost in the hard grind of his life. In the few short weeks that Gray who is divorced and his son Dawson stay with the widowed Abby and her daughter Kim, none of their lives will be the same. Gray and Abby’s worlds are so vastly different as are their outlooks on life, but they begin to tentatively reach across the void between them toward love and happiness. All is not so simple of course. There is the issue of Gray and Dawson’s relationship. Then there are the unauthorized photos of Gray that are sent out supposedly by an old friend to smear his image. And finally there is the barrier put up by Abby, who has not dealt with her past (she is so afraid to love and have it all taken away from her again) causing her to have commitment issues, and the difficulty caused by Gray who has trouble standing up for what he truly wants and needs. They have to go through a few bad moments to realize what they really want and isn’t that the stuff of which fairy tale love stories are made?
The characters are well written as is their poignant story. The isolation of the little ranch and the simple life are balm to Gray who has endured the rock scene life style, paparazzi and the recent betrayal of a friend. He has lost his musical muse and has no idea how to connect with his son. Abby has had to go it alone since her husband’s death with threats and recriminations from her in-laws that riddle her with guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Her faith and her spirit keep her head up even when her circumstances are overwhelming. Because of the guilt and inadequacy, she is proud and will not accept help when she needs it. These two very different people were brought together by circumstances and it was neat to see their story unfold. Their children, Kimmy who is totally infatuated with Gray and Dawson who is hurt and angry from neglect, as well as the town characters and the band members are all so well drawn and have depth to them. I love the gruff humor of Ed Mertz, Abby’s neighbor. I cracked up whenever he teased Gray by calling him ‘goddess’ (must read the story to get the joke).
As a special mention, I must say that the animals in this story almost stole the scenes. Those cockateels at the restaurant were hilarious.
And one last thing, this story will appeal to the foodies out there. There are several mentions of good food, but it is a certain special decadent hot chocolate that Abby makes that is a cure-all for whatever ails you that had my tongue watering.
Well it almost cures everything: “Abby struggled to corral her escaping sanity. Before her stood a teenage girl whose outfit had been chosen under the influence of raging hormones, and a man who had just cancelled hundred of thousands of dollars’ worth of work at the petulant request of a boy who, in turn, was about to keel over. There was not enough chocolate in the house to fix this group.”
I found this such a heartwarming story and have only good things to say about it. It is not for everyone particularly those who prefer their romance to be hot and steamy with lots of excitement. I am now feeling nostalgic for classic rock and craving chocolate. Definitely a nice curl up and lose yourself to good feelings!