Caroline O’Connor never dreamed she’d be back home in Cold River, Missouri, the Ozark Mountain town where everyone is ‘up your business.’…they mean well as they drive you crazy. She thought she’d left town for good, but now she’s back, helping to care for her New York born mother—struck with Alzheimer’s, and prone to saying and doing anything—and her father, the beloved local doctor frustrated he can’t cure his own wife.
As for Caroline, she’s doing ‘just fine’ coping with her parents, her brazen cousin Ava Dawn’s marital disasters, her mostly-deaf dog…and with Noah Cranwell, far-flung relative of a local family mostly infamous for running moonshine, an ex-veteran who’s come to Cold River with troubles of his own.
Caroline believes she knows everything about Cold River and the people who live in its hills and hollers … but sometimes life’s greatest surprises happen closest to home.
Source: galley from the publisher, Harper Collins, for review purposes. All opinions are my own. Thank you!
Caroline returned home to the Ozarks in rural Missouri to help her father care for her mother, who has Alzheimer’s. Caroline also runs the family bait shop. One day, she notices that someone at the boarded up business across the street and meets the youngest member of Cold River’s mysterious and elusive Cranwell family. What follows is the beginning of a tentative friendship that finally gives in to the attraction they both feel.
This is more than just a contemporary romance. There is a bit of a mystery surrounding Noah’s grandfather and family drama surrounding Caroline’s mother’s illness. I really enjoyed reading about this area of the country that I know so little about, but being from the south myself, it felt familiar. The way of life, the little idiosyncrasies of the people in the south, England did a great job portraying it.
Caroline was a tough little nut, never devolving into self-pity because of her inability to live her own life, but instead being tied to her family and not being able to plan for the future because of it. She takes refuge with her friends, including her best friend, Court, a sheriff’s deputy who has his own issues, and her former boyfriend, Reese, who just returned to the area and might still be interested in Caroline. I also was surprised by the reveal of what happened in the past and how it affects Caroline and those around her. The poignancy of Caroline’s mother’s illness affecting Caroline’s present and revealing so much about their family really elevated the story and affects the way Caroline sees the other people in her life.
There’s a lot to like in this book and I will definitely be reading more by this author. I do enjoy a good southern writer and this book is a great, well-paced story with romance, mystery, and long-buried secrets that will leave you flipping pages.