Heart of Gold by Jeanette Miller
Ashlyn Carter feels as brittle as the lifeless roses that border her new house. A year after the tragic death of her husband, the young widow discovers a horrifying secret. Heartbroken and humiliated, she resolved that no one could ever know. Now, back in her hometown with her three-year-old daughter, she's ready for a fresh start. But Ashlyn is unprepared to find that an embarrassing memory, buried deep in her past, is about to resurface. . .
Ryan Anderson was the last person Ashlyn expected to see. After the unexpected kiss they d shared years earlier, she assumed she'd never see him again. Though she tries to avoid him at all costs, Ashlyn finds herself running into her former flame far more often than she'd like. Between her uncomfortable history with Ryan and the series of well-meaning suitors pursuing her, Ashlyn finds herself disenchanted with dating altogether. Yet as she and Ryan slowly become reacquainted, she feels her resolve to avoid a relationship slipping. But when moving forward with Ryan means revealing the secrets he's worked so hard to keep, will Ashlyn have the courage to leave behind her late husband's legacy of deceit and learn to love again?
The parts of Heart of Gold that took place in the present day made for an entertaining romance. A grieving, young widow returns to her hometown with her daughter to try to heal and move on with her life. Her faith in relationships has been shattered by what she learned about her husband after he died, and she has no intention of dating or marrying again. But, with encouragement from everyone, she does go on some dates, and a person from her past comes back into her life that is determined to help her heal.
There were a lot of elements that I enjoyed about the story. I liked the characters, especially the goodness found in Ryan. The small town element was endearing. I liked the cute, helpful neighbors, the matchmakers at church and around town, and just the overall feel of trying to find the positive and move forward with one's life.
I was hung up the entire time by the past kiss between a twenty-year-old woman and a sixteen-year-old boy. It was mentioned early on in the story, but briefly, so I hoped that as the story went on the explanation would make me feel better. It was explained, sort of, but the explanation didn't make me feel better. ILLEGAL kept flashing through my mind. I would have enjoyed the story more if that aspect had been changed so the age gap was closer, or the kiss had happened when Ryan was at least 18.
That part aside, I thought the present day romance was sweet. I would try other books by Jeanette Miller.
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Author: Jeanette Miller
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published: March 2015
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.
Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book