I am continuing my Harlequin book sale purchase reviews with this contemporary romance from Fiona Lowe. It was sufficiently entertaining for middling escapism, but suffered from being too neat and tidy in its resolutions and characters. I know it’s an escapist genre and I know that contemporary romances often have themes of family healing, but the story suffered from Saviour Syndrome.
Matilda Geoffrey has arrived in small-town Wisconsin from rural Australia in her grandmother’s wedding dress. Owing to grief over said grandma’s death (that’s the rationalization), Tildy has fallen prey to an online huckster who has taken her life savings and left her hanging. To be fair, he had spent three days with her in Sydney before she gave him all of her money, but it’s still a silly macguffin you have to go with to get to the rest of the story. Baffled and broke, Tildy’s first encounter with an American is gorgeous “Viking” Marc Olsen who has arrived for Thanksgiving with his family. Driving his Porsche all the way from his fancy career as a New York architect, he is not happy to be home and things go from bad to worse when he learns his sister has a potentially life changing illness.
Tildy is a delight, but suffers from surfeit of pluck. Her life has been ruined. She is alone and friendless. She will rise again, but, for heaven’s sake, can she not have a true down or beleaguered moment? I don’t think she even cries, not even after a night sleeping in her car without adequate clothing or being accustomed to a new climate. She handles everything with aplomb. Tildy looks for a job and her efforts turn the local gift shop into a thriving wedding planning business. Tildy needs a place to live and Marc needs someone to help out with his sister’s illness, so she moves in to do the laundry and make wonderful meals and desserts. Marc’s sister needs a caregiver, Tildy is a registered nurse. Marc’s sister is struggling with her new body, Tildy helps a man enamoured of her to press his suit. I kept waiting for the supporting cast to exclaim “THANK GOD, YOU’RE HERE!” as Tildy whirls through their small town reviving its economy, winning everyone over, healing Marc’s family, finding a new partner for his sister, and saving him from a sterile, childless life as an incredibly successful loner.
If you would like to read a similar kind of story wonderfully executed, I highly recommend Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s laugh-out-loud funny romance Natural Born Charmer.