May Contain Spoilers
This is the first Gabrielle Meyer book I’ve picked up, but it won’t be the last. I have enjoyed discovering these Love Inspired Historicals, and it’s a shame that the line is being canceled by the publisher. I am determined to enjoy as many of them as possible until then!
Emmery Wilkes arrives in Minnesota during a blizzard, only to discover that she’s not really wanted for the teaching position she’s been hired to fill. Reverend Benjamin Lahaye, a member of the school board, specifically backed hiring Emmery – because he thought she was a man! The joke’s on you, Reverend. Emmy was named after her grandfather, and she has her heart set on this job. She’s not going to go down without a fight.
While a couple of plot points bugged me, overall this was a heartwarming read. Emmy is determined to make her dreams come true, despite the obstacles in front of her. After the tragic death of her fiancé, she swore off romance, instead turning her attentions to moving West and becoming the best teacher she can be. This job in Hope Falls was supposed to be the answer to her prayers, but the superintendent’s disdain for her has her fretting. Will she be able to keep her job, or will she have to return home and grovel to her family?
Ben and the rest of the school board are tired of hiring teachers. Every one they have hired so far ends up getting married and quitting within months of arriving in town. With few single ladies, all of the bachelors swarm over the unattached women. I found this, and the scene in the boarding house when Emmy is accosted by rude, crude men, upsetting. The superintendent agrees to keep Emmy on the job, at least until the new year, if she stays out of trouble and doesn’t make a scandal of herself. With the single fellows in town harassing her at every corner, it’s Emmy who is blamed for their awful behavior (because, of course it is).
Shortly after Emmy arrives, two young boys are dumped on Ben’s doorstep by their aunt. Unable to care for the seven-year-olds any longer, she informs him that their mother is dead, and their father is a deadbeat who hasn’t been in the picture in years. Ben has no idea what to do with the boys, and he is relieved when an elderly widow agrees to move into his home to help care for them. Emmy, enchanted by the boys, also agrees to help take care of them.
This was a solid read. Both Emmy and Ben have emotional baggage to deal with, as well as every day issues that threaten to spiral out of control. Ben is determined to reunite the boys with their father, even though the man’s character is deeply in question. Emmy is determined to keep her job past the new year, and to be the nurturing school teacher the community so desperately needs.
I liked all of the characters (except the superintendent! What a self-righteous jerk he was!). I even liked the twins, and I usually find younger children in romances to be so annoying. The boys needed Ben and Emmy, but more importantly, Ben and Emmy needed the boys. Both Ben and Emmy vowed to remain single and focus on helping others. They needed a push to see how lonely and unfulfilling that life would have been.
Grade: 4.25 stars
Review copy borrowed from my local library
About the book:
Unexpected Holiday Blessings
Finding twin five-year-old boys on his doorstep isn’t the first surprise Reverend Benjamin Lahaye has faced lately. Emery Wilkes, the new schoolteacher the town has hired, turns out to be a very pretty woman—not the man they’d been expecting. And though the twins and Emmy are only boarding with Ben until Christmas, the arrangement feels all too natural.
Emmy has moved to Minnesota to put loss behind her. Marriage would mean forsaking her position and her purpose, and Ben is an honorable man who understands her refusal to wed. But as he gets closer to tracking down the little boys’ father, Emmy realizes just how much she wants their sweet temporary family to become permanent.