Love in a Stranger's EyesThis author was chosen as Author of the Month for June in my Historical Romance Chat group, but I have only now got around to reading it. Very slack..I know!
In town, they call her "Crazy Widow Dinsmore". But Elly was no stranger to their ridicule - she had been an outcast all her life, growing up in a boarded-up old house under the strict eye of her eccentric grandparents. Now she was all alone, with two little boys and a third child on the way.
He drifted into Whitney, Georgia, one lazy afternoon in the summer of 1941, hoping to put his lonely past behind him. He yearned for the tenderness he had never known, the home he'd never had. All he needed was for someone to give him a chance.
Then he saw her classified ad: WANTED - A HUSBAND. When he stepped across Elly Dinsmore's cluttered yard, Will Parker knew he had come home at last...
Reviewing this book is actually quite difficult for me because in the end I did really enjoy it, but oh my goodness it took me forever to get into it. I am not really sure why that was. It is actually a pretty unusual setting for me. Normally the historicals that I read are set in England around the time of the Regency and feature lords and scoundrels and rakes. This book is set in small town American South in the early 1940's, just before America becomes involved in WWII. Having said that I love a good war story - especially one written with a focus on the relationships that happen with a background of war. Maybe part of the reason for the slow beginning was that both Will and Elly are very cautious people, both trying to protect themselves from past hurts, and the novel proceeded in a similarly cautious pattern.
Having said all of that, when I really got hooked, that was it, and I loved the rest of the book. This book was originally published in 1989, and I wonder if that is also part of the reason why this book was a little different to other romances that I had read. I did start to wonder how many more ways the author could possibly torture our main characters though! She did use a very effective tool at one point...moving the story along through the use of a series of letters between several characters - given the setting, and the content of the letters it was a great way of communicating events without having to spend pages and pages explaining action that had actually happened offstage..so to speak!
As for Elly and Will - I completely understand their fears, and their issues, but I did wonder if Will may be a fraction too good to be true. Everything he turned his hand to he could do - become a bee keeper...sure. Fix the bathroom and the porch, and the car ... no problem. He was however a very likeable character - a decent man, and I liked him a lot.
There were a lot of times where we were privy to what they both were thinking, and there was more than once when I just wanted to shout at the two of them to just talk to each other. Life would have been so much easier if they had...but the book would have been significantly shorter!
Overall, this romance was quite a lot deeper than a lot of others that I have read, and included some very unusual storylines, especially involving giving birth. Ultimately it was a satisfying read...one that I nearly missed out on because I was very tempted to put the book down and not come back to it because it took so long to hook me in.