Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I thought it was the third today. That’s kind of how I always am with holidays — the older I get, the less I celebrate, except to the extent that I have to in order to make Kidlet’s life more fun. We’re heading to Indiana for a family reunion today, which means a long car trip. I was planning to go to the library to get books to read Kidlet in the car. Not so much. Someone shoot me now and put me out of my misery, okay?
Speaking of misery, this week’s what-to-read starts off angstier than angsty. The hero is an ex-con in Depression-era Georgia, drifting from place to place and getting fired from one job after another because of his criminal record. (He killed a whore in Texas. Isn’t that a Johnny Cash song?) The heroine is a six-months-pregnant widowed mother of two with no family and no hope of surviving the winter unless she can find a man to work on the property she owns, split firewood, and generally keep the place going. So she takes an ad out in the paper for a husband, and he answers it. Here’s the (now pointless) blurb—
In town, they called her “Crazy Widow Dinsmore.” But Elly was no stranger to their ridicule–she had been an outsider all her life, growing up in a boarded-up old house under the strict eye of her eccentric grandparents. Now she was all alone, with two little boys to raise, and a third child on the way.
He drifted into Whitney, Georgia, one lazy afternoon in the summer of 1941, hoping to put his lonely past behind him. He yearned for the tenderness he had never known, the home he’d never had. All he needed was for someone to give him a chance.
Then he saw her classified ad: WANTED–A husband. When he stepped across Elly Dinsmore’s cluttered yard, Will Parker knew he had come home at last …
A couple of my Twitter friends recommended this book to me because they knew I like my historical romance gritty and kind of painful, and this book is all that . . . at least at first. The hero is probably well on his way to starving to death or dying of hypothermia at the beginning. The heroine is desperate enough to advertise in the paper for a husband, so . . . yeah. But Morning Glory takes a slow, pleasant tilt away from all that harsh reality to become a really slow, sweet, beautiful romance.
One of the things I liked about the book is all the ways that Elly and Will show each other how they feel by doing things for each other. They are horrible at actually talking about feelings. Mind-numbingly frustratingly horrible. But they each watch the other, figure out what he/she likes or what might be helpful, and do it. Will puts boards around the pump so it won’t be muddy, which keeps the children from tracking dirt into the house that Elly will have to clean up. Elly figures out Will has a sweet tooth and makes him cakes and pies. It’s just kind of lovely. And there are all these amazing details, like the first time Will has dinner in Elly’s kitchen, she makes him wash up with hot water, and because he’s been in prison, he hasn’t had hot water or a clean towel in literally as long as he can remember. It completely floors him. He can hardly cope with what it feels like to be given the consideration of hot water and a towel, and it’s just impossible to read it without feeling all heart-clenchingly empathetic.
The other thing I loved aboutMorning Glory is that Spencer chose a transformative, epic historical moment and then threw Will and Elly into the middle of it. They fall in love on the eve of Pearl Harbor. Will goes off to war. Everything changes, and we can see it change in these two people’s lives, and it’s completely fascinating.
The only thing I didn’t love about Morning Glory is that there’s really terrible slut shaming. But it’s plot-necessary, so I just ignored it.
Highly recommended if you like historical romance, especially if you’re looking for something a little different.