|*reads description of heroine with light |
brown and curling hair...checks cover...
reads description again...*
One day, Jeannie gets a letter from her dead-fairy-godmother bequeathing her an orchard in Central Otago. And it is about time! Peter is on the verge of step-patricide, Teresa has the sort of cough that carries off operatic sopranos to have romantic on-stage deaths and Jeannie has eaten enough 'hateful, horrible tapioca' to last her a lifetime.
|Jeannie couldn't take another night of pudding.|
When she makes it to her new estate, she walks bang into the path of her new manager. And, quelle horreur, THEY KNOW EACH OTHER. Ahem. Back in Auckland, Jeannie caught him in a torrid embrace with her noble boss's Very Young Wife.
Jeannie is ready to go off-grid like a doomsday prepper, and is horrified to think that she could be tracked down if her manager talks. For his part, Fergus MacGregor is still furious about the Puritanical self-righteousness she exhibited when she walked in on him committing a Class C Human Resources Violation in the boss's office.
|Jeannie thought that his melting brown eyes bumped it up to a Class B.|
And if it all looks like they're headed south on the gentle wheelchair ramp to Sensible Conjugal Bed-flannels, never fear. Neville is here. He's a local sheep buyer and I cannot imagine Essie Summers writing him without the hugest grin on her face. He is an unapologetic scoundrel and gets all the best lines.
|"No good getting mad with me. Just forget it. |
I'm quite unsnubbable."
Over time, Jeannie hates thinking of that overcharged moment in her boss's office, even more than she used to. Fergus is fighting his own attraction for a woman who doesn't trust him. When he kisses her, he says, using insult like a suit of armor, "Neville will teach you if I don't." A girl cannot take that sort of thing lying down. She retorts, with a sort of malicious sting, that it's been pleasant to learn from Neville. But then she trips all over her dawning realization.
The next time they kiss, it's for a better reason: wanting to. Too bad it's the night that Cecily, like a taco combination plate, returns. Thereafter, the emotional landscape becomes inflamed and feverish. No. Wait. That's her appendix. It bursts on the way to the hospital. Though they have just had ANOTHER fight, Fergus lies and says he's her fiance.
Editorial Hectoring: Look, Fergus. I might have thought twice before adding another layer to the constraint and complication already so abundant in your relationship. But what do I know? I've only been married for twenty glory-filled years.
|The More You Know.........|
When the engagement becomes known, they are forced into acting out the charade. But not in private, Fergus. "You know I'm a bounder," he replies. "You knew it from the start." He might allow his lips to twist cynically but they are too busy rearranging themselves over HERS.
Later, Fergus confesses to having spent three month in prison on a charge of drunk driving. (That's why he's always pounding lime-fizz.) Jeannie's faith in him finally makes him tee up his pride, whacking it with the 3 iron for a long bomb down the fairway. May it be forever lost in the rough or eaten by an alligator.
Then, Cecily's husband, The Noble Boss, dies.
ROLL CALL! We have:
Cinderella, Who is On the Lamb and Pathetically Pleased with her Sham Engagement
A Chiseled Jaw With a Mysterious Past and an Unspoken Passion for the Girl Who Wears His Ring
The Well-looking Widow
Jeannie unburdens herself about the Tyrannical Pickle Man and finds out that he DIED the day she left Auckland! Cecily, the lying snake, kept that info back. Oh, and she threw herself into his arms, that day in the boss's office.
It's all over but the shouting...er, kissing. There is a LOT of kissing.
Rating: 6/10 Fire at the drapers. I have a lot more affection for this book than that rating suggests. It's kind of an outlier for The Summers Canon since the hero is an orchardist with a past. There is a smashing secondary love-story for a later-in-life couple. I also love that Jeannie has a really good reason (two actually--Peter and Teresa) to stay quiet about why she left Auckland. So it's not just pride keeping the plot going. But I wanted the main characters to have more fun together--to see that they would be a great couple--and, though I generally love the bits of poetry Essie Summers sticks into her books, these were not well integrated. Ultimately, I find that the parts hang together awkwardly. Still, it's a sweet book and I really love the way that the hero really has a serious set-back that impacts his marriageability.
The Misunderstanding: She thinks he's chasing a married woman. He thinks she is a snob who refuses to mix with the rural community.
Location: Strathlachan, an orchard near Corriefield, not far from Dunedin in Central Otago.
Other locations mentioned: Fiji, Auckland, the Roxburgh Hydro, the Leviathan (a hotel in Dunedin), the drive (also in Dunedin) through the Octogon, down Princes St and to the Burns statue, First Church on Bell Hill