Love stories make me want to do nothing but read. This is the second entry in the very pleasant Tucker Mills trilogy by Christian romance author Lori Wick, and it's an improvement over the first, but the story drags along at times due to the sheer number of characters Wick tries to balance in the plot.
The plot concerns an indentured servant named Reese Thackery (her middle name is a joke between her and her intended), whose "contract" is bought by the bank as part of a debt reassignment when her previous owner dies suddenly. A quick glance at Wikipedia tells us that "Indentures could not marry without the permission of their owner, were subject to physical punishment (like many young ordinary servants), and saw their obligation to labor enforced by the courts. To ensure uninterrupted work by the female servants, the law lengthened the term of their indenture if they became pregnant. But unlike slaves, servants were guaranteed to be eventually released from bondage. At the end of their term they received a payment known as "freedom dues" and become free members of society. One could buy and sell indentured servants' contracts, and the right to their labor would change hands, but not the person as a piece of property."
The bank manager, Mr. Jenness, buys Reese's contract and asks her to visit his house and work there, much to the consternation of his wife, Lily. Their teenage son, Gerald, falls head over heels in crush with her, but she rebuffs his advances. Later, Mr. Jenness learns that the bank owners, the Kingsleys, will be coming to town to look over the books and he uncharacteristically leaves his place of work and home, and generally behaves in a suspicious manner.
The problem with Mr. Jenness' behavior is that there's no payoff later. There's no evidence he did anything wrong. He's not a real villain in any sense of the word, and the book really needs some sort of drama or conflict to keep it from being too boring. Meanwhile, Connor Kingsley arrives with Troy, and immediately asks for Reese to be freed from her contract. She begins working for them, and slowly she and Connor (whose voice is a raspy whisper due to a childhood trauma) fall for each other.
The other denizens of Tucker Mills have their own stories interwoven into each book in the trilogy. Jace and Maddie, the protagonists of the first book, are newly married and pregnant, and are beginning to study the Bible with Pastor Muldoon. Doyle and Cathy Shephard are also studying the Bible, and Doyle has many questions about eternal salvation which, to a non-religious reader, is pretty boring.
Connor and Reese's story resembles the fairy tale of Cinderella closely and it's a sweet, easy read.
I really enjoyed this story. It was my favorite out of the trilogy. Reese and Conner's relationship seemed real and you could see the progression of time in the story.
Book 2 in the Tuc will become alliesker Mills Trilogy. A beautiful love story in the making. When her owner dies, Reese finds herself bound as an indentures servent to the Tucker Mills Bank. Things may change before the banks auditor comes into town though and when the bank manager turns vengeful, Reese and a man who could care and comfort her must become allies. Don't have to read in order to enjoy. I liked this book alot.