When Love Blooms
One of the reasons I don’t always like inspirationals is that the spiritual element seems forced, inauthentic, or overdone. In When Love Blooms by Robin Lee Hatcher, this wasn’t the case at all. The religious tones of the book are actually at times more believable than the romance.
Emily Harris is a privileged young woman who feels like she needs to do something with her life beyond getting married and having children, so she becomes the governess for a ranching family in Idaho. The mother of the two girls is terminally ill, and wants to provide her daughters a stable feminine influence after she dies – and, she hopes, her husband-of-convenience and close friend might fall in love with her.
Gavin Blake doesn’t think Emily is up for the rough life of a ranch, but she continuously proves him wrong, and the two slowly, and secretly, begin to fall for each other, despite their own wishes. Gavin sees too many similarities between Emily and his uncaring mother, and knows that Emily is too refined to be with a man like him. Even after the death of Gavin’s wife, they question her wisdom and the sincerity of their feelings, and when the time comes to take action, they both must decide if love is worth the risk.
I really liked both Gavin and Emily, and the side characters were all enjoyable as well. The two young girls were some of the most believable and enjoyable child characters I’ve seen in awhile. If anything, everyone was too nice – there were no villains, and everyone exudes goodness. Everyone was certainly likable, but some more pronounced flaws might have given them more depth. That said, I thought that the spiritual elements – both Emily’s faith, and her and Gavin’s struggles – felt very realistic and heartfelt.
Less solid were their romantic roots. Don’t get me wrong; I thought that Gavin and Emily had very believable feelings and their actions and reactions were incredibly authentic. I just didn’t quite know where they came from. There was so much prejudice and hostility between them at first, I didn’t believe the transition from that to affection. I would have liked really see more of that transition.
Ms. Hatcher is a skilled writer; the narration flowed smoothly, wasn’t too loquacious, and the dialogue rang true. My only quibble is that she had a tendency to state things too bluntly. That oft-repeated creative writing mandate “show, don’t tell” is repeated because it’s true.
Though it missteps occasionally, When Love Blooms is a good book, an enjoyable romance, and probably one of the best inspirationals I’ve read in quite a while.