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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Home at Blackberry Hill by Roxanne Rustand

Home at Blackberry Hill by Roxanne Rustand
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (368 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Azalea

Much more than she bargained for…

All Abby Cahill wanted was a quiet summer job in the beautiful Wisconsin woods. But the hospital where she's filling in turns out to be overcrowded, understaffed and decidedly stretched for cash. And as if she didn't have enough on her hands, the only vacancy in town for a "single woman with mutt" is at the farmhouse of wildlife biologist Ethan Matthews, whose son is with him for the season, along with several newborn puppies.

Ethan is a handsome, solitary man who seems to need Abby as much as she needs him. But she shouldn't be needing him or anyone else—at the end of August she's got to go back to her job in the city teaching nursing. This is just a temporary arrangement, which is starting to feel too comfortable, too much like home.

When Abby Cahill is evicted from her rented room, she lands at Ethan Matthews' farm. But she's not looking for an attachment and the solitary biologist who seems to shun others. He on the other hand, finds himself more attracted to the city-raised nurse than he cares to admit. In fact, it's beginning to feel a little too much like home.

R.N and teaching nurse, Abby Cahill, takes a summer job as Director of Nursing in a Northern Wisconsin hospital in the small community of Blackberry Hill, a quiet town, when not inundated by summer tourists. She’s more comfortable in teaching but wants to brush up on her nursing skills before moving on to a job in California. The thirty-two-year-old is getting over a canceled wedding and being jilted by her fiancĂ©, and she has no plans to settle down. She does, however, need a place to live. The apartment complex she’d rented before arriving in town has burned and she has to find accommodations fast. She rents a seconded story room from a crotchety older man, but things don’t work out well there.

When Ethan Matthews arrives at the hospital injured from an auger accident, he’s told his wound is more serious than the hospital can handle, and they call for an airlift to a larger facility in Green Bay. Ethan resists because there will be no one to care for his ten-year-old son, Keifer, who has come to spend the summer with him. Abby steps in and promises to look after the boy. Things don’t go according to plan, and en route to Ethan’s remote farm, Abby’s car gets mired in the mud. Worse, there’s no cell signal, so she and Keifer have to trudge through a thunderstorm to get to the farmhouse. Abby knows chores need to be done, but she knows nothing about life on a far, and Keifer is little help. They manage, however, to rescue a newborn litter of pups and bring them inside for shelter.

The next day, Ethan arrives in time to rescue the city-bred Abby from another mishap. Ethan is a loner, and he’s not looking forward to sharing his farm with Abby, but when she’s evicted from her rental for being too noisy, he and Abby decide they can mutually help one another. She gets room and board in exchange for cooking dinner and looking after his son when he’s out. The arrangement suits both of them; neither is looking for an attachment, but when accidents begin to happen, they must work together to find out who–or what–is behind the mishaps. As they spend time together, each of them tries to hide their feelings for one another.

Home at Blackberry Hill is one of Harlequin’s Heartwarming series and is thoroughly enjoyable with likable, well-drawn characters and an interesting plot. This is a sweet romance, however, there’s plenty of emotional feelings to warm the heart of any reader. Some of the scenes were a bit choppy. I also found the ending just a bit hurried, but Ms. Rustand's compelling characters and flowing prose made up for any shortcomings in the manuscript. If Home at Blackberry Hill is typical of Harlequin's Heartwarming line, I highly recommend you give it a try.