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Monday, March 30, 2009

Till September by Jana Richards

Till September by Jana Richards
Publisher: Awe-Struck EBooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (150+ pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Edelweiss

The longer Quinn Anderson stays at the bed and breakfast on Hannah Kramer’s farm, the more she finds herself drawn to him. For the first time since her husband’s death, she can imagine herself with another man. But then she discovers the truth about Quinn’s purpose in Saskatchewan. He’s there to buy farmland from her cash-strapped friends and neighbors and resell it to foreign buyers. How can she love a man bent on destroying the people she cares about and a way of life she loves? How can Quinn convince her that he wants to build her community instead of destroying it? Can he make her believe he loves her before time runs out in September?

Hannah is a young farm widow with a grade school son and she has just turned her homestead into a bed-and-breakfast. When Quinn shows up, looking for accommodations, they are immediately attracted to each other. They agree on an arrangement in which Quinn stays the summer as a boarder, meals included, in exchange for heavy part-time work on the place’s upkeep. The attraction they feel quickly builds a head of steam, but a lie stands between them. Unknown to Hannah, Quinn is really an agent for a land development company, one Hannah already despises, that is looking to buy up some of the area farms. Quinn’s initial impulse to withhold his true purpose for being there turns into a fascinating web of deceit that constantly, and suspensefully, threatens to topple their relationship.

The characters are engaging and easy to relate to. Quinn is an ethical agent, intent to giving fair value for land much in demand by other families. Hannah’s attraction to the handsome stranger is tempered by loyalty to her husband’s memory, by a desire to succeed as an independent businesswoman, and by something else: a desire to fulfill promises made to family members about disposition of the land.

The story is not without small weaknesses. There is a boss/subordinate relationship that many readers (who have had bosses) will find unrealistic. And some of the tension in the first few chapters seems premature. Hannah expresses fear of losing Quinn before she really falls for him. Then later on, the characters, especially the minor ones, have this consistent tendency of reading each others minds. But these are minor quibbles compared to the suspense deliciously constructed around resolution of the main plot line, made more tantalizing by interesting subplots.

This story gives a touching view of farm life: its moments of beauty, of belonging, of tradition, its demanding workload, its pressing risks of failure, all punctuated by an overriding love of the land, hence a desire to keep it despite gathering hard times. And the book features well written prose. Parts of the scenes are beautifully rendered, giving us a sense of poignant rural stillness.