So when her sister was injured, financial expert Andrea Hampton traded the big city for Amish country to help turn her grandmother's house into an inn.
But life with the Plain People took a treacherous turn when a string of accidents and pranks threatened her family. Someone didn't want the secrets the old house harbored to come to light. Trusting anyone— even the handsome carpenter who seemed so genuine—was a battle for Andrea, but her life depended on her ability to find the truth.
This was a first in many ways for me - my first novel by Marta Perry, my first book from the Love Inspired line at Harlequin and my first foray into the world of romantic suspense. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Don't let the cheesy blurb fool you - this is a lovely, simple romance that will keep your attention but not require a lot of brain power.
Andrea has a prestigious job in the city and is cautious about leaving it to come home to her family in Lancaster County when her sister, Rachel, is injured in a car accident. She loves her job - but her boss and colleagues don't take too kindly to her putting family matters before her work. But it's undeniable - her grandmother and sister need her help setting up their family home as a B&B, even more so now that Rachel is out of action. Further difficulties arise when there appears to be a prowler on the lose. Is this person simply a troublesome teenager or is something more sinister going on?
Thankfully for Andrea's family, grandmother Kathryn has rented out her barn to a carpenter named Cal. Cal is only too happy to help out the family in their time of need, although Andrea is suspicious about his intentions. Is he the prowler? Is he trying to take advantage of her grandmother's generosity? Or is Andrea simply too worried to take notice of what is right in front of her, and the attraction she has for this man?
I liked how Marta interwove the mystery of the troublesome prowler and Andrea's internal battle over whether to leave her family in the comforts of the country and return to her high-flying job in the city, thus leaving behind any chance she had with the handsome new stranger she'd just met. While I guessed that Andrea and Cal would hit it off (a bit obvious as this is, after all, a romance novel), I'm afraid that my years of reading Nancy Drew did not detain me from following the red herrings in this story. I thought I had the whole mystery figured out, but there was a little twist towards the end that I didn't see coming.
As someone who has never read a Love Inspired book before I'd have to say that I enjoyed it more than I expected. While the blurbs, and sometimes the covers, can be incredibly cheesy, the story itself was quite well written and very compelling. This novel was only 250 pages long so obviously there were not dozens of intricate sub-plots, but considering the word-limit and the restrictions of this particular Harlequin line, I think that Marta has created a rather good novel. I liked that the characters sought help from God in times of need, but the references weren't overdone to the extent that they were unbelievable. At each time that Andrea prayed for guidance or help I found myself thinking that I would have done the same in her position. I also liked the fact that Marta made it obvious that there was chemistry between Andrea and Cal. I'm under the impression that some Christian authors like characters to form good friendships then suddenly fall in love, but never experience attraction or romantic feelings - this isn't how it works in real life! Andrea and Cal clearly had chemistry between them, even if they did to try hide it, and this made them all the more realistic as characters.
My only real complaint would have to be that the "bad guy" gave a rather cheesy monologue at the end of the novel, when their identity was revealed. I have to admit, I cringed a little. One other thing that bugged me was that the characters' clothing was often described, and I didn't really see the need for this to be commented on time and again, but I suppose that other women might be more interested in this.
All in all, I was pleased with my first attempt at Marta Perry, Love Inspired and Romantic Suspense. This was a nice, easy read, perfect for sandwiching in between the books I've been reading for my university courses. I'll definitely be reading more books by Marta Perry. 7/10