In Crossing Promises, the third book in Kimberly Kincaid’s Cross Creek series, the only thing more important to Owen Cross than his family is farming, and if he’s honest, the two are completely connected. His hatred of paperwork is about as intense as his love of those two, so he hires a local woman, Cate McAllister, to do the bookkeeping. Professionally, they work perfectly together. Personally? There’s some more baggage to work through before they hit their happily ever after in this friends-to-lovers romance.
There are three points in this story where, had the author made different choices, my grade would be vastly different. I won’t get into those in detail, but the end of this review will veer into spoiler territory so please be warned.
Cate McAllister – whose moniker around town is ‘widow’ – is an odd bird of a protagonist. Her husband died in a car accident three years earlier and the town perceived them as the perfect couple. She’s been embalmed in her position of mourning by the rest of the town, even though her feelings about her husband are significantly more complicated. Their marriage was far from perfect – cracking at the time of his death, even – and he left her drowning in debt. Her choice to work at the farm is entirely driven by that financial reality.
Owen, whom readers met in the previous two installments, is a grouch. He’s dedicated, hardworking, focused on success, but also a massive grump. One of the reasons he and Cate work well professionally is that she simply doesn’t care about his moods. She’s confident in her systems and proceeds as such, and eventually wins him over. That aspect of the story, I loved.
The parts featuring them as a couple … I didn’t love.
Despite many valiant efforts on the part of the author, I never really understood why Owen fell for Cate, other than that she was there. She never comes across as someone who actually wants to go through life with someone; instead she’s someone still sorting through a painful marriage and learning who she is. I never rooted for her, and my notes are full of ‘please go to therapy’ comments. Still, I could have survived that feeling if not for the ending.
Oh, boy. The ending.
Spoilers ahoy, folks, but I have to talk about this.
Within about thirty pages of the end, Cate informs Owen that she doesn’t want children. He informs her that he does, which should not have been a surprise to Cate, as Owen’s driving characteristic through most of this book was his love of family and his talk of legacy. She issues an ultimatum and they break up. Owen has one conversation with his semi-estranged half-sister and decides he can give up this life-long dream of children for Cate’s sake and then they get back together and live happily ever after.
Hooooo buddy, do I have questions.
First of all, what the hell was Cate doing keeping that one in the bag? I have known for most of my life I didn’t want children, so I made sure to tell my (now) husband that about two months into dating. I could see us building something, but I wanted him to know where I was at. We talked about it a lot and we still talk about it and we’ve been together for six years. The decision regarding children is significant and should never be taken lightly if the two partners are not in agreement! He just… guys, I cannot buy this HEA. While I’m grateful for a heroine who doesn’t want children (we need more of those!), I’m flabbergasted at how she handles it, and that series of decisions only serves to underscore my belief that she’s not ready to be in a relationship.
I generally love Ms. Kincaid’s work and so am sad to give such a low grade to Crossing Promises. I’m hoping the next time we visit Cross Creek, I’ll feel a little more settled into that HEA.