Visit a small town with a heart as gold as the California hills! Settle in a cozy seat and enjoy these sweet, Austen-inspired stories of pride and prejudice, persuasion, and matchmaking in this modern “country village.”
Bennet Ray is home. She loves her grandma, their toy shop, and their cobbled-together family in the small Sonoma County town of Rancho Valle. But restless wanderer Bennet is afraid she can’t settle down, or be open to the love she wants. When her former high school nemesis Ryan Stone threatens her family’s business, and her feelings, can she face her past and find and way to remain in Rancho Valle?
After the death of her Grandpa and her Grandma’s stroke, Bennet decided it was past time to move back home and help her Grandma run the toy store. Even though her heart yearned to continue her music and travels, Bennet couldn’t turn her back on her the woman who raised her in a loving home. To help welcome her back, Bennet’s Grandma invites a number of the locals around for dinner, people Bennet grew up with and a few of her childhood friends – including Ryan. Can this be their second chance together?
This is a very sweet short story. I was a little surprised at some of the tension and conflict that was initially between Ryan and Bennet. While Ryan wasn’t exactly a prince charming, I didn’t feel as if he was quite the rude villain that Bennet initially made him out to be. Ryan seemed to me to be one of those men who doesn’t always understand how blunt his comments come across as – which while certainly not comfortable, is nothing too disastrous in my mind. What surprised me was that Bennet slanted a number of things Ryan said to her as if he were criticizing her and putting her down. Because of this I really didn’t understand why he appealed to her at all. In the beginning I felt like Bennet was a little over-sensitive and biased when it came to Ryan.
I was extremely pleased when this stopped still fairly early on in the story. It was quite a relief when Bennet began to see Ryan as he truly was – not the best communicator, but not rude or mean either. From here their romance blossomed wonderfully and by half way through the story I was feeling quite comfortable and invested in both Ryan and Bennet.
Readers who like small-town stories should really enjoy this. There is a strong cast of a number of secondary characters and plenty of that lovely small town/old fashioned feel to this story. Add in that it’s exceedingly sweet – one small, non-descriptive kiss at the very end to seal the happy ending – and I feel this is a good story for readers of all ages. This is the sort of story I would happily recommend to my mum or grandma, or even a teenage reader.
With great characters, an interesting plot revolving around Bennet coming home after quite a few years away and the beginning of a beautiful romance between Bennet and Ryan, I feel this is a good book with a number of things to appeal to a wide range of readers.