Desert Isle Keeper
More Than Words Can Say
Fans of Karen Witemeyer know that she excels at writing sweet, subtly sexy Western romances which are full of charm and joy. Her genuine, heartwarming stories never fail to bring a smile to my face and her latest book, More Than Words Can Say, completely met that expectation. It’s the second novel in a series but works perfectly as a standalone.
Thanks to her dad, Abigail Kemp has lived a life defined by misogyny. Just when she thought she was past that, the town council delivers a nasty surprise – the bakery she inherited is now in violation of the law because only men are allowed to own businesses within the city limits. Abigail can either sell the business to a man and work for him or find a husband. She’s not pleased about either option but it doesn’t take her long to figure out that a marriage of convenience will be the best solution. The deadline delivered by the mayor gives her only two weeks to pick a suitor in a small town with a serious shortage of bachelors.
Her primary qualification for a husband is “a tractability of dough” that would “hold whatever shape the baker deemed appropriate.” Which leaves her daily customer Zacharias Hamilton out of the running. He might make flutters dance in her chest when they exchange a morning nod over his preferred sticky buns and black coffee order but the man lacks the malleability she’s looking for in a groom. The only problem is, her other choices are a mama’s boy whose mama doesn’t think a baker is good enough for her baby and a church deacon whose breath could “kill a bread dough’s rise at twenty paces.” After some deep deliberation, Abigail musters her courage and proposes to Zach, complete with a contract outlining the benefits of the marriage for each of them.
Zach’s days of involving himself in other people’s troubles are past. He took on the raising of a family at thirteen and has done plenty of things he’s none too proud of in order to keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. He’d noticed that Abigail was tense and unhappy recently but had determined to simply appreciate the fact that her personal troubles weren’t interfering with her ability to brew a good cup of coffee or provide delectable baked goods for his morning repast.
He turns down Abigail’s original proposal courteously, but he finds it harder to say no when her younger sister Rosalind corners him later that afternoon and pleads with him to accept it and protect the two ladies from harm. It seems young Rosalind has gotten herself into a spot of trouble, and without the bakery to live in and a strong brother-in-law to protect her, she is confident that trouble will grow until it destroys both her and Abigail. Zach reluctantly takes a second look at Abigail’s contract outlining the terms of their marriage and assures her he will agree to all her terms if she agrees to one of his: marital relations must be part of the deal. Flustered by his physical interest in her but delighted at the chance to save her bakery, Abigail agrees.
There’s nothing better than a typical romance plot done well and that’s exactly what More Than Words Can Say is. Abigail, like many a heroine before her, doesn’t recognize her own beauty or charm even though she’s industrious, kind, and clever. We learn details of her life throughout the novel that show how she has overcome adversity and her own mistakes to be the lovely and caring woman she is. Her surprise at Zach’s amorous interest comes from the fact she sees none of that in herself: she thinks she’s simply a “plain, plump dough slinger” while he’s the ultimate ruggedly handsome, confident cowboy.
What Abigail quickly comes to value more than Zach’s appearance, though, are things I loved about him, too. He has an egalitarian attitude towards their relationship. He never pushes her for more than she is willing to give physically, is helpful but not in the least controlling in terms of her business and shows a respect towards women that Abigail’s father never did. Marrying Abigail is a kindness he doesn’t need to perform but which is totally in keeping with his character. As the novel progresses we watch him help Rosalind and an assortment of other people in need and are reminded of everything he did for his sister Evie, the heroine of More Than Meets the Eye. His compassionate, charitable nature coupled with his good looks, fighting skills and protective instincts make him a hero to die for.
I’ve never read a marriage of convenience plot that I didn’t think required a heaping helping of suspension of disbelief and this one is no different. This trope is a standard of the genre however, and is one I am willing to happily concede reality for. That was especially easy here since having Zach and Abigail married allows the author to build their relationship in historically accurate ways and gives us a chance to really see the hero and heroine pull together to face their difficulties.
Their marriage also allows Witemeyer to do an excellent job of combining her faith filled story with realistic sensuality. While this tale is in no way explicit, the genuine desire felt between a man and woman is expressed. Passages such as the following highlight that Zach has a very typical male attitude towards sex:
“Speaking from a purely practical perspective, Miss Kemp,” he interrupted,”a man can’t be expected to live like a eunuch when the woman he’s married to looks like you.” His gaze scanned her from head to toe, lingering ever so briefly on the places where her curves were most prominent.
The author is firm in her conviction that the only appropriate setting for the fulfillment of such desire is within a marriage but her acknowledgment of those feelings adds a realistic note to the hero and heroine’s interactions.
As I mentioned, this narrative is faith filled. Zach and Abigail speak of their beliefs frequently, spend time in prayer and work through the problems they encounter throughout the book by using biblical principles and relying on scripture for guidance. Their convictions are generic to Christianity and appropriate to the time and place in which they live.
More Than Words Can Say is a lovely story that is a complete pleasure to read. I wish the author had taken a bit more time to deal with Rosalind’s situation but the quick resolution in no way affected my enjoyment of the tale. I think fans of Inspirational romance will find a lot to love here and I urge them to rush out and pick up a copy as soon as possible.
Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo
Visit our Amazon Storefront