Edwina Huntington has resigned herself that she is stuck in Harmony, Montana at least until she pays off her family's debts. She is seen as a proper spinster and she does little to dispel this outside of her house. But inside, she dances to the newest music and even has one beer each week. (gasp!) Her past does haunt her, though it takes a while to find out why. Edwina decides to start a finishing school for young women, as she has the experience of living in Chicago for a few years. Unfortunately, the building she has purchased also got a new owner at the same time and the building must be split. Tom Wolcott is a hunter. He has decided to open a store that would supply and guide hunters through the wilds of Montana. These two co-owners are wary of each other as they go about trying to divide the building they don't want to share. Even their pets -her cat, his dog-can't get along. Tom starts to realize that Edwina, or Ed as he calls her to torment her, isn't what she appears. As they go about building their businesses they start to admire each other and to find themselves attracted to the person they insist is their opposite. As we know, opposites attract and this book is no different. But this is the only cliché in this book. These characters learn from each other and start to grow as they begin to lean on each other. Edwin and Tom are believable and compelling, and even the secondary characters add a lot to the book.
Book One in the Brides for all Seasons series.
This is one of those stories that the reader just has to keep turning the pages to find what will happen next; lots of unexpected things drop from the skies. It starts out simply enough -- A drunk sells his property twice and then dies. Because that drunk owed so much money, the two people who bought the building could not recoup their cash -- they had to share the structure. Thus, Edwina Huntington and Tom Wolcott find themselves co-owners.
Edwina is going to open a finishing school for young ladies; Tom is ready to open a sporting goods store -- the first in the area. Edwina has an interesting back story; she went off to business college and has a wonderful time -- kicking up her heels in the freer environment of Chicago. She had to come back to Harmony to care for her dying mother and figure out a way to pay her deceased parents' medical bills. Because Edwina was from a small town where everyone knew and judged others, she knew she had to keep her previous experiences a secret. She also felt that some of her hi-jinks made her ineligible for marriage (she saw herself as a fallen woman) and she'd come to accept that.
Tom is handsome, self-assured and a bit irritated by the prim and proper Edwina. He wants to pull her tail a bit. When Edwina paints her half of the building yellow and white, with lovely lacy curtains, Tom decides to make a statement. And he does!
This is a great Americana tale. It takes time for them to get together; and that is realistic. When Tom and Edwina start skirting the marriage issue, a boulder shows up in their midst. Tom doesn't want his wife to work and Edwin refuses to be totally dependent on her husband. This is such an accurate theme for the time; the long-held values of Americans were changing as the new century arrived.
This is the first book I've read by Stef Ann Holm (although I've read one or two of her short stories) and I was impressed with the humor and great dialogue in this novel. It is a very satisfying book. 4.5 stars