This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released on August 25, 2020
A woman hiding from her dangerous ex and a man who has always placed himself last to care for others find a special kind of something when they least expect it. The small town full of hope out in the Georgia countryside works its magic once again on a new romance pair and I got comfortable for the heartwarming tale.
Once in a Blue Moon is the tenth of the Blessings, Georgia series of standalone romances. A reader can enjoy the books out of order, but fair warning that each one updates on the lives of previous couples.
Cathy Terry grew up off grid in the Alaskan Wilderness and then made a huge mistake when she married a wealthy Vegas casino owner who abused and cheated on her only to threaten her life when she divorced him. She put those early skills to the test and went off grid once again only to surface in a little Georgia town where she planned to winter before hitting the trail once again. But, when an injury forces her to accept the help of a big, generous rancher and other town members step up to help look after a stranger, she isn’t so sure about moving on. Duke is everything her ex was not and he makes her feel like something special.
Duke Talbot took over the family farm when his parents died and set aside his plans to hold down things while his younger brother finished school. He has been content to look after the farm and his family while appreciating the community he calls home, but it is only when he catches sight of pert, red-headed Cathy Terry jogging through town that he feels a spark and a desire for something more. Knowing that she’s skittish around men and tends to keep to herself, he is cautious and gentle when he offers to help her while her ankle heels and while she adjusts to the idea of staying instead of running. For the first time ever, he plans to go after something- rather someone- just for himself.
I have loved so many books in this series with the theme of a stranger coming to town who is in need and the Blessings people rising up and helping them. I have no idea if there is really a town out there like this, but it is nice to imagine there is.
Cathy Terry is on the run from an ex who has enough wealth to have her under surveillance and tracked because he fears she knows enough about his bad dealings to turn him. It was a good strong suspense element in the story. But, it was also neat knowing she had a background of living off-grid and living out in the wilderness. Her skills come in handy when a few exciting incidents crop up. There is even a side story of cattle rustling in this one that affect Duke and his brother’s herd. I liked that the romance was surrounded by all these other activities and situations.
The romance was on the sweet side and felt slow-burn even though time-wise it wasn’t that long. Duke is around forty and Cathy is also beyond thirty. They are mature adults who know what they want and communicate this well taking things step by step and facing things together whether it’s Duke’s over-protectiveness or Cathy’s impulsiveness.
Overall, I enjoyed this one, but I did have a couple niggles. There were some meandering moments and a few times where the story would go off on a new tangent and wrap that up with me wondering what it had to do with anything other than an incidental side story. The biggest tangent was toward the end when the author did this rapid check in with several families around the community like this was the final story, but based on that last tantalizing sentence about a stranger coming into town on his bike, I don’t think it was. I had a couple moments when I thought the book was wrapping up only to have it just keep going with another thing that strung out the end. It did finally arrive and was adorable.
Then there was a spot in the story that seemed to come out of nowhere when Cathy chose to get judgmental toward the rest of the town for a specific neighborhood being neglected. I’m not down on her for seeing a need and wanting to do something about it. That’s actually great and shows a big heart. But, here’s the thing. The problem was an absentee landlord from another part of the country. I didn’t like that she was shaming the locals who had proven time and again that they did not deliberately neglect any kind of need they came across even to strangers and newcomers like herself. She’d gotten millions in alimony after her divorce and she was able to throw that at the problem. Again, that was good and generous, but those people she tried to shame weren’t loaded like that and did pitch in where they could when they understood the issue. It took me more words to describe my issue than it took up in the book so this really wasn’t a big thing in the plot, but it stuck in my craw.
While there were drawn out moments at times, this complaint is not about seeing the series regulars showing up throughout Cathy and Duke’s story taking turns playing important roles. I like the little check ins as Duke and Cathy encounter all the people in their usual places and at their usual activities.
In summary, it was a sweet heartwarming story taking place over the holiday season in a setting I adore with characters I found engaging. I can recommend this book/series to those who like gentle pace, adorable cast of small town characters, and a romance with a pinch of spice.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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