Currant Creek Valley
Do you hate romances set in perfect small towns? Do you hate romances overflowing with characters from previous series entries? Then read no further; this isn’t the book for you. Unfortunately, it isn’t the book for me either.
This is the fourth in the author’s Hope’s Crossing series featuring the residents of a beautiful tourist town in the mountains outside Denver. Alex McKnight, a hometown girl and huge town booster, is about to have all her dreams come true. A long-time sous chef, Alex is about to become the chef of a new restaurant set to open soon, provided the building is rehabbed in time. But when the contractor bails with three weeks to go the owner finds a fill-in from Denver, Sam Delgado.
Alex and Sam have a meet cute. Alex is exploring the vacant restaurant and catches what she thinks is a burglar with valuable tools in the kitchen. Of course, it’s Sam, which gives her the chance to appear strong and feisty in his eyes.
Sam is just the kind of man Alex likes to date – one that won’t stay in town more than a few weeks. Alex has the reputation of being a serial dater with no plans for marriage. As soon as Alex discovers that Sam is actually relocating to Hope’s Crossing along with his young son she tells Sam they can only be friends. But of course things don’t stop there.
Alex gives Sam mixed signals, alternately telling him they have to be friends, suggesting he date other women, and looking longingly at him. Alex is still dealing with childhood abandonment issues as well as some secrets in her past. Her character is a bit of a mess, with her longing for true love, not really believing she deserves it, and not believing anyone would stick with her. After a while I just didn’t care and thought Sam deserved better than Alex.
In contrast to Alex, Sam’s almost perfect. A widower, Sam has a precocious six year old son who was one of the best parts of the book for me, along with the dog Alex adopts.
I don’t mind small town romances and have a particular fondness for Rocky Mountain towns. But the author laid it on far too thick. We’re reminded repeatedly of how beautiful the town is, how wonderful all of Alex’s friends are. Not only are most of the residents nice, they volunteer a lot to help the less fortunate. We should all be so lucky to live in such a community. But, they also meddle as numerous people try to convince Alex how great she and Sam are together.
There’s a fine balance in books in a series – particularly ones that come late in a series — between lengthy info dumps and assuming your readers have read previous entries. The author assumed too much. So many character names were introduced in the opening pages that I was completely confused. It seemed as if every sentence introduced another name or two and I had no idea who any of them were and quickly didn’t care.
If you’ve read and enjoyed the rest of the series you may very well like this much more than me. But as a standalone, it didn’t work; I needed fewer secondary characters and a more appealing heroine.