October 07, 2011
Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy
Grant is a good guy and especially devoted to orphans. He's got four at home already (and twenty some altogether during his 27 year old life) and is picking up two more from the train when he meets Hannah, a scrappy beautiful woman who thinks he is taking the orphans to his home to work as slaves. Most who know Grant know this is the furthest thing from what he'd do, but with a history of abuse Hannah isn't able to see it any other way. She takes on the job as school teacher to stay near the kids and makes plans to rescue them.
Over time, and seeing Grant interact with the kids she realizes that he's not a bad guy, but still has her suspicions when several bad things start happening to the kids and to Grant. When one of his sons is nearly murdered, Grant isn't sure what to do but keeps an eye out in town. However, he's not the only one, someone's got their eye on him and their plans aren't nearly as altruistic as his. It all comes to head on a pageant night Hannah has arranged. It is hard to say whether Grant's family will come out ok or if Hannah will every understand what her feelings are for him.
The characters in this were mostly well done. The kids were all wonderful and I did like Grant. He was an awesome guy and it was nice that the author wrote him as such a great father. The bad guys were sufficiently evil although their plans were a bit complicated. The only character I had a problem with was Hannah. Why oh why must authors make their women characters stubborn without intelligence. Its kind of insulting. She redeems herself by midway in the book but I just wanted to slap her in the beginning.
Connealy has a clear writing style and it was easy to get absorbed in her book. She describes the characters well and the settings were easy to see in my head. This is a pretty clean book too for a romance novel, no sex scenes. In fact, along with the romance I'd dub it a bit of an adventure tale as well just because there is always so much going on.
Now for the not so good stuff. Aside from Hannah's annoying start there are some other characters that are just not needed. The whole side story about her sister just didn't add anything to the book and I found myself skipping through it and not enjoying it at all. There also is the motive behind Hannah being on the train in the first place, I can't quite understand that. Her getting the job as a schoolteacher is odd too when she is continually described as looking homeless. Also, things are resolved way too easily in the end of this book.
It was a cute book to be sure and I definitely will be checking out some of Connealy's other works. If they're all as good as this one I expect to like them.