Nathan Quinn has been a widower for a long time in a place nicknamed Bachelor’s Gulch. He has his daughter and his brothers but it’s spring and he has to admit, with some guilt, a woman would be nice to have around. Then he meets the new town resident, Crystal.
Crystal Galloway has moved into the area as a counselor. She loves the place, she is charmed by Holly Quinn, Nathan’s daughter, and she’s attracted to Nathan. Everything should be simple, but it isn’t quite. For one thing, Crystal came originally to find her daughter, the daughter she gave up for adoption fifteen years ago. For another, Nathan still mourns his wife. And then there is all the insecurity Crystal grew up with and that giving up her child only compounded. Maybe learning to love Nathan and his child will give her a second chance at being part of a family. But maybe she’ll only mess things up again.
Crystal, smart and vulnerable, compassionate and afraid, is a fine heroine. Nathan, the oldest of four wild brothers and still dealing with his wife’s death, is also a good hero. The Quinns make a noisy but fun family. But while I like these Quinn guys and I know they care about each other in their own uniquely male way, I don’t always believe what they do. I’m willing to believe brothers wrestle and fight even when they get to be adults. These brothers seem to start scrapping just out of the blue - too much testosterone to be contained, I guess. I’d love to see Crystal figuring out more about all of them and their family dynamics since, after all, she’s the counselor.
The secondary characters definitely have their moments. The evil gossip who wants Crystal out of town has her charms. Mary, the dead wife who loved her husband but attracted another of the Quinn brothers, seems interesting and more complex than most ex-wives are allowed to be. Nathan has good taste in women. You can understand why the whole family, particularly Mary’s child, mourns her.
However, while the plot is carefully done, too much time is spent on the mystery that isn’t much of a mystery (who Crystal’s daughter is) and less on what the real problem should be: what everyone is going to do about it. We know the answer to the mystery long before the author confirms the answer. In fact the only mystery is why it takes Crystal so long to figure it out, especially since she is hanging around all the teenage girls in town at the story’s start. What gets short-changed is how Crystal, her daughter and Nathan, all of whom were wounded in some way before or after the adoption, are going to heal once they know the truth. Nathan, in particular, doesn’t seem to have many problems with what unfolds, though he should.
The story was is well-crafted, though there were no surprises, and the family is lively enough that I wouldn’t mind finding out more about the three other brothers. I’ll hope for more from the next in the series.