The tenderness between Rhys and Maree, and Smith’s crisp descriptions of their attraction, are highlights of this novel. Lots of kissing, but nothing more despite several instances of temptation, keep this romance squarely on the side of clean. Side characters, like Maree’s protective older brother, pro football player Max and Rhys’s charismatic coworker Davis, add the crucial extra pressure for the two leads to accept their feelings. Smith can fold in backstory and rationales without losing the thrust of her story, and Rhys’s worry over opening himself up seems genuine.
The shifting perspectives between Rhys and Maree start off a little rocky, but the pacing improves as the story moves on. Smith sometimes pairs unusual sets of descriptors, but the writing flows smoothly and the stops and starts to the relationship never feel overly contrived. The subplot of an arsonist in town could have been more developed, but Smith seems to be laying strong, viable possibilities for future installments set in Green Hills. Small town charms and real pain add heft to this cozy romance.
Takeaway: This small-town story between a competent woman and an emotionally wounded newcomer will comfort fans of clean romances.
Great for fans of: Catherine Anderson’s Mystic Creek series, Shanna Hatfield’s Summer Creek series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A