When Alyssa Cannon dies after promising to move to Oregon and marry Mr. Luke Becker, her sister, Emily, decides to take her place. She knows that she is not as pretty as what Luke had been expecting, but she shows up anyway. Luke is not exactly excited to see that he is supposed to marry a woman he knows nothing about and has had no contact with, but he knows he needs a woman to help him take care of his daughter, Rose. So Luke and Emily get married in a simple ceremony at the courthouse and it is only when they get back to Luke's farm that she discovers that they will also be living with his mother-in-law, Cora. Cora turns out to be more of a handful than Rose as she has turned the entire place into a shrine for her deceased daughter, Belinda. Cora is not at all happy at the new turn that life has taken and wastes no time showing the new addition to the family that she is not welcome. Luke is not exactly pleased with Cora's tactics but he worries that making trouble will end up hurting Rose.
Little by little Emily does manage to make progress with Rose, but it seems like all of her effort is wasted by Cora's interference. Emily secretly holds out hope that she will one day have the romance of her dreams, but she believes that because of her plainness such dreams are out of her reach. Luke knows that it is about time he get over his wife's death, but he cannot help but feel guilt over the way she died. An argument between the two of them had caused Belinda to run out into the rain and she eventually caught pneumonia, and the guilt prevents him from truly loving another woman. When Cora takes things one step too far, she leaves the house, and Emily and Luke have the house all to themselves and things begin to get better as they spend more and more time together and share themselves with the other. But Cora is still not entirely out of their lives and she is still determined to stir up trouble and when she does it turns out badly for both Emily and Luke. Together, along with Rose, they need to become a family and accept all the bad stuff that comes along with the good.
I've been on a little e-book kick recently and had a $1 off coupon for this book so I decided to buy it from smashwords and I'm glad I did. Like the other Alexis Harrington book I read, it is very calm and to be honest a little slow moving to the point some might consider it boring. However, she is so good with the character's and her writing that I definitely did not come away thinking that. I love how throughout the novel Luke is there quietly supporting Emily and helping her overcome her insecurities; it just really shows how great these two are together. She makes a great heroine for this novel- she knows her stuff and is not scared to work hard and go for what she wants, yet it is her faults that make her so real and such a great character. Luke is incredibly interesting because he is so noble, yet he is still wracked by this crippling guilt that he so wants to be able to get over. Reading about his journey getting over the guilt is just as good as reading about Emily gaining confidence.
The book was certainly not very steamy but the sex contributed immensely to the romantic development and towards getting Emily and Luke to fall in love. I thought that Cora was a great character for being such an untypical villain; she was a woman, she was older, and she wasn't a jealous suitor trying to steal the heroines money. I really looked forward to the parts that were told from her point of view, and I wished that there had been more- and a big confrontation scene at the very end. Rose was a very well-written, likable, and age appropriate little girl and it was nice to see the impact that having Emily in her life made on her. I liked the setting of this novel immensely and it was almost as if the time period and the setting were characters in themselves. This was definitely not a regency and I could tell while reading that the author had done a bit of research on what life would have been like in Oregon at the turn of the last century.
Rating: Once again another very satisfying novel from Harrington. I liked the plot of this one just as much and the romance was quite well done.