Flint Fortune, recently returned former black sheep of the family, is being set up. The family has been in a bit of turmoil the last few months, and there have been several of the notoriously-loner Fortune men who have found true love–but not Flint, no way! Especially not with the lovely widow who is the sister of his brother’s fiancee. Four kids, after all…
Jesse Hunt-Myers has been stuck in a rut since Pete died; she feels guilty for any time she spends away from her kids, but it’s been two years, and maybe her mother and sister are right. Perhaps it is time to move on. But not with her sister’s future brother-in-law, no way! He’s a ramblin’ man, for sure, and that is not what she needs.
Having come from a small, rather-uncomplicated family, I occasionally find the complexity of the Fortune family hard to track; it reminds me a little bit of an 80’s soap opera–A was with B, until A died, now A’s cousin C is marrying B in their later years, but he was in a horrendous accident and doesn’t remember who he is, meanwhile a baby shows up on someone’s doorstep, and they think it might be young D’s, but it’s really not, it was E’s by an old girlfriend a couple of years ago… see what I mean? For someone whose “large family gatherings” involve taking two cars to dinner, this is a bit mind-boggling…and some of it is, in fact, relevant to our protagonists here, so it’s helpful to know! Thankfully, about mid-book, Flint helps set everything straight for Jessie (and…well, for me, too).
Flint, for all that he’s spent years away from the family, has done well by himself; he has a place in Denver, and travels around selling art and trinkets to gift shops and galleries. Jessie’s been struggling to figure out what life will look like now that Pete’s gone, but raising four kids has been a bit hectic! These two unlikely souls are being shoved together by their kinfolk, and it isn’t very long before the sparks start.
Our Anne Neville has fussed a few times about the sparks staring too quickly, like there was no particular reason for these two to be attracted to each other. I got a mild sense of that here; Jessie and Flint have pretty-well set their courses, so other than straight-up physical lust, there’s not a lot of reason why they’d fall for each other. He’s a dude, and she’s got a cute butt–so yeah. It’s only later, after they’ve been…hm…intimate seems too mild a word; they went at it like a couple of nymphomaniac teenagers…that they start to realize that long-term is something they could, in fact, do together.
Early on in this story, I had my doubts that the central point of conflict could be resolved; they each, after all, have their own lives, and the other’s seemed quite incompatible. This is amplified by the fact that Jessie’s oldest child, Ella, does not like Flint at all, early on–meaning, the intrusion that he represents. But Jessie’s hobby art projects, and Flint’s spending some time with the kids, starts to build bridges. The final confrontation between Ella and Flint was wonderfully done; Flint had already made his mind up that he was going to bend his life a little so that he could be in Jessie’s, and he had fallen for the children as much as he had Jessie.
The beauty of this story is not in the glamour and fame of the Fortune family; they are well-to-do, surely, but they’ve all worked for what they’ve got–they’re real people. Jessie, too, is an approachable heroine; she’s a real lady, whose dreams of a marriage and family have been wrecked in the accident that killed her husband. Whether we’ve been in their shoes or not, it’s easy to understand them both, and we get to see enough of their internal dialogues that we can see the evolution in their thinking about each other. But for the details, this could be your family, or a friend of yours, very easily, so it’s wonderful to see it turn out so beautifully for everyone. This is an easy, well-crafted read, with a lovely end that totally justifies the means. I heartily recommend it.