I've read many romance novels, but this one had an appeal totally separate from the run-of-the-mill. The secret is the hero, Ford. He's face is not that handsome (although his body is rock hard!) and he's given a background that makes your heart break. He's grown up in a town where everyone thought he was ugly, his sister calls him an animal, his father didn't want him around...rejected again and again, he's resigned himself to be the lonely outcast no one loves.
But in the opening of the novel, a girl on the run robs him of his clothes, then ties him up on the bed to keep him from following her....but before she goes she kisses him. And then the human drama and romance begins.
The "suspense" of the plot (will the bad guys catch up with the heroine?) is mimimal, but I really didn't care, as the depth of emotion of the love story made this more than a worthwhile read.
This is one of my favorite books by Jodi Thomas. The two main characters are emotionally scarred. Each has lived a solitary life, not through desire but because of circumstances beyond their control. The plot is original and shows Jodi Thomas deep understanding of the human psyche.
Hannah has been taking care of herself since she was 12 (when her mother died). One evening, she watched as her fiancée was murdered in the restaurant/bar where she worked. Knowing these gunmen left no witnesses, Hannah goes on the run.
One rainy night in Dallas, Hannah steals the clothes from a tall, well-muscled man, Ford Colston. Its the only way she can figure to get on the train, without garnering the notice of the 3 gunmen looking for her (at the train stop).
Ford Colston left Saints Roost to find a teacher. In the dumps for failing, hes returning home when Hannah makes him take off his clothes, hat and great coat. He offers the extra clothes hes carrying, but she wants the clothes he wore walking past the gunmen.
On the train, Hannah learns who Ford is and why hes been traveling. She senses something kind and honest about the man and walks off the train and into his life. She tells the man who has come to bring Ford from the train station that she is the new teacher. Again, Ford does not argue or dispute her claim.
Ford and Hannah are caught kissing and the elders of the town decide they must get married to avoid a scandal (something these religious folks avoid). Ford and Hannah agree to marry to give her enough time to find a new place to run.
Hard-working Ford has never been appreciated in his hometown because others (his sister and father, specifically) labeled him ugly and wild. Because hes not attractive, women avoid him. Getting married, even for a month, would save him the grief of never being good enough (for a woman to want). And Hannah is good enough looking for the two of them!
In a months time, Hannah and Ford plan for her to die and he would become a widower safe from the comments of others. Ford only asks one thing of Hannah Dont steal from the good folks of Saints Roost. Hannah agrees but things start to go missing and Ford is devastated.
In spite of their individual fears, they start to fall in love with each other. However, Hannah has never told Ford why she has been on the run. Before long, trouble finds them.