When Dylan Harper demands that Coy Logan repays the $1200 that Logan owes him, Logan is furious and knows there is no way he can raise the money. So he offers Harper his wife in exchange for forgiving the debt saying that Melissa will be able to cook and clean for Harper. Melissa is not excited about the prospect but she knows that things can not be too much worse than living in constant fear for herself and her young daughter, Jenny. Coy has already taken to hitting her and she wonders if it is just a matter of time before he takes to hitting the baby. So with some legal advice from a friend, that probably wouldn't quite hold up completely in court, Melissa becomes Mrs. Harper and she and Jenny move into the small apartment above Dylan's store. Dylan knows that Melissa is terrified of all men and that his reputation as a cold man does help her anxiety. She wants to make the best of things, so she tries to make her impact in his life as small as possible and keep him happy by doing as much for him as she can.
Slowly Dylan comes to like all the nice changes in his life; the clean clothes, the home cooked meals, and having company around. He knows that it will take time for her to completely get over her fear of men after what she had been through. Melissa just wants to pay off her debt to Dylan and start a better life for herself in her daughter and Portland so she opens up a laundry business in the heavily male dominated mining town. But the more money she earns the more she begins to think that she will not be able to leave Dylan. Dylan has also been burned before, by a young woman he fell madly in love with who ended up marrying his rich brother, and he is wary of taking that next step with another woman. His friend, Rafe, warns him repeatedly not to let life pass him by and not to end up with all the regrets that he himself has. When he finds out his estranged family his died his first thought is to go back and reclaim his land, but he is forced to confront his feelings for the little family that has already become his.
I'm not normally one for mining romances but I made an exception as I had just downloaded by Kindle for Mac's and I read a fairly decent review of it on another site. Immediately I was struck by how well developed the characters were and the complexity with which they were written. They both had their own stories and their own secrets and they both wanted so much out of their future and were willing to do whatever they could to achieve it. I loved Melissa's devotion to her daughter as it was completely real and loving not at all overdrawn like it is so often in romances. Maybe it's because she really was the only care-taker for her daughter and they had to live in such close proximity, or because oftentimes children in romance's tend to be the product of one of the father's liasions. I will admit that Rafe's history with his past love was a little overdone and I had a hard time understanding why he was dragging this around with him for so long. I like it when the author can come up with something more original for causing the hero's fear of love.
The relationship between these two evolved in a very well timed and progressive manner as they slowly got to know each other and began to overcome their fears and worries about the opposite gender. The feelings, and eventually the love, they feel for the other slowly builds up and is really a natural outcome of all the great things they each do for the other. I was definitely not left wondering why these two had ended up fallen in love because the story was very well written. I'll admit I would have been interested to see what would have happened if the husband had not conveniently died, but I guess a divorce would have been just too much. Another review mentioned how conversation driven this story is and just how so much of the book is spent with these two talking to each other. While this is certainly the case- I did not find it at all overwhelming and there was plenty of inner monologue and description to keep the book going.
Rating: This was a very satisfying, rather uneventful read. Very good really, and I very much enjoyed it even if I can't quite put my finger on what made it so great.