The Other Woman
I’ll admit it, I like romances set in smallish towns. I’m just not hip urban Blaze kind of woman. I used to enjoy Rachel Lee’s series romances set in Conard County, Wyoming, but now that she isn’t writing them anymore, I’ve found a new place to visit – Dundee, Idaho – the site of a series of books by Brenda Novak. Novak’s books lack a strong central character, like Nate Tate, the sheriff of Conard County, but they are enjoyable books for someone like me who thinks that small can be beautiful. Novak’s Dundee series is now seven strong with The Other Woman.
In the previous book in the series, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Liz O’Connell found out that her husband Keith was a bigamist. He was also married to Reenie Holbrook, his high school sweetheart. Keith wasn’t evil, he was weak and married Liz because he loved her and was too scared to tell her he was already married. Despite all his faults, Keith was a very good father and the children loved him deeply. Liz couldn’t take them away from their father, so she moved to Keith’s hometown, Dundee, Idaho.
Liz has settled down in Dundee very smoothly. Keith lost his sales job and is working at the local hardware store for minimum wage. He occasionally makes overtures to Liz, but she will have none of him on a romantic basis. But Keith’s relationship with his children is a good one and he may be redeemable yet. Liz plans to open a chocolate shop to take advantage of Dundee’s tourist trade and is working hard to get the shop ready to open in time.
Liz’s friends have introduced her to men, but none of her dates have lit any sparks. It seems like that will be the case with her latest date – Carter Hudson, a political consultant in town to work on the local senator’s re-election campaign. Liz initially doesn’t like Carter at all, but in addition to being a consultant, he is also a good handyman (he used to be a contractor) and he offers to help her get her shop in order. Liz accepts and as she spends more time with Carter, her long dead feelings begin to come to life.
The plotline of The Other Woman has a lot more than the romance between Liz and Carter in it. Liz’s father, from whom she was estranged for many years, comes to town to try and mend fences. This very melodramatic sub-plot features a Big Surprise Revelation. It didn’t work for me at all.
There’s also a mystery subplot. Twice in the course of the story, Liz’s shop is vandalized. There’s some strong evidence that the vandal might be her neighbor, whose shop isn’t as successful as Liz’s, but of course that would be too simple. Carter finds out who did it, but his investigation comes out of thin air, and this subplot felt tacked on.
Liz and Carter’s romance was the best thing in the book. They were both mature adults who’d been hurt in the past and were wary of love and trust. Their wariness was understandable and they didn’t come across as suspicious adolescents. The love scenes were sweet and warm and I liked the pair of them very much.
If The Other Woman had dropped the subplots and concentrated more on the relationship between Liz and Carter I think it would have been a stronger book. However it was still a very pleasant series romance and I enjoyed it. I am firmly hooked on Dundee, Idaho and I hope that at some point in the series, Keith will grow up and find a strong woman. In the meantime, I’ll look forward to visiting Dundee again sometime soon.