Kate Merritt has just watched the man of her dreams marry her sister. To make matters worse, the guy who considers himself Kate’s boyfriend doesn’t have the slightest effect on her heart. Not a single skipped beat. And something in Carl’s eyes tells Kate he’s getting ready to pop the question. It’s a proposal the town of Rosey Corner has been expecting, but Kate knows something the town doesn’t: she will never marry Carl. Mired in heartbreak, guilt-ridden over Carl, and worried about the war, Kate feels like the autumn of 1941 may be nothing but gray skies. Until she meets her new brother-in-law’s best man --- a charmer with a wandering spirit --- who just might bring a ray of sunshine to this small town girl.
Jay Tanner is not the kind of person people would expect to be best friends with Mike --- Rosey Corner’s young preacher and Kate’s new brother-in-law. While Mike is strong in his faith, responsible, and loyal to his one true love (Kate’s sister, Evie), Jay is the product of a miserable childhood that led him to a life of wandering from place to place, job to job, and woman to woman. This is not the kind of man for Kate, who has never left Rosey Corner and knows better than to succumb to the charms of a rover. And yet, the same heart that never quickened for Carl seems to throb whenever Jay looks her way.
"This memorable historical romance offers up a plot that will tug at any reader’s heart with archival research and Christian values seamlessly woven throughout."
After the wedding, Jay decided to stick around for a while and secures a job with a friend of Kate’s family. His good nature, sense of humor and charming personality soon make him a favorite among the townspeople, especially Kate’s little sister. And despite his reputation as a lady’s man and rover, Kate can’t help succumbing to his charms as well. She keeps her guard up, however, knowing Jay is likely to leave when he tires of small town life. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Kate’s world turns inside out in more ways than one. Jay enlists, then leaves without saying goodbye after getting into a car accident with Kate’s little sister. Assuming he was drunk, Kate’s words to him are harsh and accusatory. But the more she searches her heart, the more she realizes that she jumped to conclusions without giving him time to explain. With Jay gone, and no way of knowing if he’ll ever return, Kate must find the strength and courage to set things right…if that’s even possible.
Author Ann H. Gabhart gives us a heartstrings story of love and sacrifice, with young lovers struggling to overcome fears, insecurities and the uncertainties of a war-ridden world. SMALL TOWN GIRL transports the reader to a time when values mattered and “overscheduled” wasn’t a household word. Rosey Corner is the kind of town readers will long to live in, with down-to-earth characters who are strong in their faith and convictions, easy to like, and unique in their individual personalities.
Women will love Kate for her intelligence, strength and even insecurities. And of course, they’ll be drawn to Jay’s charming personality and good looks while empathizing with him for the baggage he carries. This memorable historical romance offers up a plot that will tug at any reader’s heart with archival research and Christian values seamlessly woven throughout. SMALL TOWN GIRL is definitely worth reading. And though this book easily stands on its own, you may want to start with ANGEL SISTER.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on October 16, 2013