Here's a description of the book from Bethany House:
"She must conceal her past, her identity. What hope can there be for love?
Life changes drastically for Ruth Livingstone the day her father puts a young child in her arms and sends her under an assumed name to a small village in New Jersey. There she dutifully awaits his acquittal, certain that her father, Reverend Livingstone, soon will be cleared of the outrageous accusations against him.
When tragic events transpire, Ruth finds solace tending a garden along the banks of the Toms River—a place where she can find a measure of peace amid her growing heartache. It is also here that she meets Jake Spencer, a man who both frustrates and intrigues her. Fearful of the newspapermen intent on tracking her down and unsure of whom to trust, Ruth knows she must carefully maintain her identity as Widow Malloy. But as love begins to slowly bloom, can the tenuous affection growing between Ruth and Jake withstand the secrets that separate them?"
My Rating: Fall/Spring
This book is slow to fully bloom, but the resulting flower is a lovely sight to see.
I confess that I was not fully drawn into the story right away, and it was hard for me to completely sympathize with Ruth because the situation seemed to be more the exception than the rule. That is to say, Ruth's plight was not one that most people could relate to, and the requests of her father seemed rather strange.
As for Jake, his first appearance suggests that he's had a "turn-around" in his life, but many of his actions throughout the book appear to be in conflict with a changed heart. It is as if he is seeking a second chance to appease his brother and further his career only, not a second chance to make better choices in general.
However, the plot is certainly creative, and once I sat down and really determined to read the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of many of the characters that began to emerge. I was also happy to discover plot twists and romantic tension that held my interest.
Yes, I was frustrated with the lies that kept engulfing the characters deeper into an unnecessary extent of turmoil. However, I was quite satisfied with the ending of the book, even if it did seem a bit too tidy for "real" life. I liked seeing how the author resolved the story, and I thought the final "chapter" was both clever and a good reminder. Overall, once the story pulled me in I found the journey to be enjoyable.
*With thanks to Jim Hart and Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*