In this love story, a man and a woman find solace from heartache in each other.
Garrett Oliver lands his dream job, working at a resort in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee as a gardener, apprenticing under Finn Janssen, a master of his craft. Garrett’s been separated for months from his college girlfriend, Lindsay, who remains in school in Washington State, a distance that has taken its toll on their relationship. She eventually arrives in Tennessee for a short visit. But in response to his marriage proposal, she breaks up with him and quickly returns to Washington. Willow Armstrong, the recently hired general manager of the resort, overhears Lindsay on the phone speaking to what sounds like her new lover, evidence that she had already begun a relationship before leaving Garrett. Garrett is crestfallen but also immediately attracted to Willow, who experiences the same intense feelings. Meanwhile, Willow has her own reasons for romantic caution—she proposed to her own boyfriend, only to be rejected in favor of another woman. And she moved back to Tennessee to care for her increasingly ill father, an executive for a company that owns a hotel chain. Soon her life becomes even more complicated. After her father dies, she suddenly discovers that he was a multimillionaire. But she might not be his sole heir—a man steps forward who believes Willow’s father was also his own, with his birth the result of an affair. This is the second installment in Thome’s (Walland, 2016) Hesse Creek series, and it’s just as easy and pleasurable to read as its predecessor. While this sweet book revolves around the same resort and cast of characters for the most part, its enjoyment doesn’t presuppose knowledge of the series opener. The author repeats the fictional formula of her first novel as well—a relationship forged out of a powerful magnetism and shared grief—and yet again manages a mostly lighthearted mélange of tender love story and thoughtfully depicted trauma. But the plot in this volume is now too cluttered and less likely—it’s hard to imagine a woman growing up without a clue that her father was lavishly wealthy.
An effortlessly romantic read, if a bit implausible.