Kate Donavan needs a break from a job that is burning her out in Dallas, and flees to a small town in Pennsylvania to spend a few months renovating a rambling old Victorian house that has been in her family for generations. Into the mix comes a haunted, lonely widower who she hires to do most of the heavy lifting.
Matt Jarreau is a former NHL star who quit his all-star career to nurse his dying wife through the final stages of cancer. A few years after her death he is still wounded, solitary, and moody, and everything in Kate’s soul screams out for her to pull this man out of the quagmire of despondency he has fallen into.
Sound like a heavy read? Not really. The book is sprinkled with humor, joy, and a few dashes of aching poignancy that leap out to add heft to this wonderful summer read. Kate is compassionate, but no Pollyanna. She sees what she wants and goes after it with both hands. Matt doesn’t make it easy on her. He has found a way to numb his pain by burying himself in solitary manual labor, and resents Kate’s efforts to drag him out of the hole where he has finally found a measure of equilibrium.
Although the contemporary romance market is saturated with books that have the “small town good, big city bad” mantra, My Stubborn Heart did not slip into this trap. I don’t want to include any spoilers, but I was surprised (and delighted!) by the last third of the book.
This book was a wonderful blend of understated humor and emotion, with intelligent characters wrestling with realistic struggles. Despite the weighty topic, it was a breezy, fresh read. Becky Wade is a new author on the scene, so sadly, there is no backlist for me to run out and scoop up……but I will look forward to other books with her lively, original voice. Two thumbs up!