Francis Barrett returns to her hometown of Storm Lake, Iowa to take care of the family holdings, such as they are, after her father passes. While turning his garden shed into a small but livable cottage, she runs into an old flame she admired from afar but never dared speak with during their high school days. Using her secret passion of oil painting to unwind from long days of clearing out the mess, Francis finds her father also had a secret passion and left behind a tale of a man she didn't truly know.
George Frederick McKenry never left the Midwest town where he was born other than brief travels with his four children, who he now has custody of since his ex moved into a condo with her new boyfriend. Running into the one girl from school who rebuffed him when he asked her out, G.F. can't help checking on her and making sure she's getting along alright. False assumptions and past resentments fade as Fran and G.F. let down their guards in order to create new memories.
Ella M. Kaye uses her art and psychology background to create contemporary love stories with mental health issues set around the creative arts. Each of her novels and novellas fall under one of three series: Dancers & Lighthouses, Artists & Cottages, and Songwriters & Cities. Kaye has been writing romantically inclined literary fiction that branches into straight mainstream in both novel and short story form under the name LK Hunsaker for more than two decades. After many moves as a military spouse, she is settled in western Pennsylvania where she enjoys the abundant foliage and recreational lakes along with the hilly vistas.
A fish out of water in her small mid-western hometown, Fran Barrett returns there to settle her late parents' estate. She's drawn to the garden shed her father made into his private domain and starts cleaning it up. She's made big mistakes in her life, but the loss she feels the most keenly is the years she'll never get back with her dad.
GF can hardly believe Fran is back. She's the girl he never dated in high school, but the one he always wanted. He's a single dad now with four kids and despite all his responsibilities and his backbreaking construction job, he wants her still. Trouble is Frannie isn't easy to convince.
This story seemed to me to be about setting things right - memories, self, places, and relationships with others. Ella M Kaye explored the dynamics of relationships in stressful situations and allowed her flawed characters to struggle, to have the wrong words come out of their mouths in the heat of the moment. They felt real, like people I knew.
I love the literary feel of Kaye's books. Her characters reach out and grab me. They teach me as well. Two lessons I'll take from this book: Hope abides. Love endures.
There's not a person who wants to return to their home town less then Francis does. But with her father’s death, that is exactly where she finds herself. Her plans are simple: get her father’s place cleaned up to sell and high tail it back out of town. However, when she runs into her high school crush, he just won’t take no for an answer. Even with her fears of her father’s dementia being passed down to her, George is determined to change her mine about staying in Storm Lake. George was the high school star football player who married the popular girl. After four children and a divorce, he is ready to settled down with the girl who always had a piece of his heart, if she’s willing to stick around.
This sweet romance will have the reader rooting for the sassy, nerdy girl. The author’s use of mental health issues and imagery gives the characters and settings a realistic feel that hooks the reader.