Well, it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Chance Creek book, and this one has been sitting finished in my laptop for a long time, too. But better late than never, I say~
Most of you who have been with me through my journey concerning this series know how much Ned was NOT a personal favorite. He was rude, and close-minded, and all things wrong when it comes to a man. And I viewed him as a mini-Holt (and God knows I can’t stand the man!). But he grew on me! Turns out, Ned was insecure because of his dyslexia, and he always acted the way he did because he felt he had something to prove. Not that this excuses all that he said and did in the previous books. But it went a long way into helping me understand the man behind the brute.
It took the second-born Matheson the right woman to fall in love with in order to finally become something better. Not only for those around him, but himself as well. And it was extremely satisfying to read the character growth he underwent in his story arc.
And that’s all the positive that went on with this story. I love Cora Seton. I believe her to be THE goddess of western contemporaries. Chance Creek is a fictional paradise for me, one that houses a lot of different, lovable, flawed and wonderful people. Her style is amazing, and it sucks you right in – the dialogues, the wit, the tension and the bonds between her characters.
But this book couldn’t get the perfect 5 in my list for a couple of reasons – though I didn’t think those reasons were enough for me to lower the rating any more, because, again, the writing is perfect and just because I have personal issues with some fictional characters doesn’t mean the whole book gets the heat for it.
The first reason is Holt Matheson. Say what you want, people, but this man is toxic! He keeps pitting his own sons against each other. Keeps pushing them to follow the path HE wants them to take. Keeps being stubborn, and even when he budges a little bit – which happens only after one of his boys harshly rejects him and/or gets seriously injured – it doesn’t feel like a true victory against his hard-headed ways.
The other reason is Fila. The female lead in this book didn’t exactly deliver the way I expected her to. I understand the trauma. And the reactions. But at some point, I ended up just feeling sorry for poor Ned. Hear that?! I SAID “POOR NED”!!! JESUS!
Because, yeah, the guy was tiring himself out trying to please everyone. No wonder he was angry half of the time and lashed out. After a certain part of the book, and considering the romance was already being built from the previous story, her behavior just ticked me off. And, just like Holt, she had to witness Ned getting physically hurt to start getting (keyword, start) her priorities straight. It wasn’t like she didn’t want him, she had her issues, which was only understandable after all she’d gone through, but feeling jealous and being passive-aggressive when Camila came in the picture? (because, yeah, that’s the way I can describe her attitude) Not. Cool.
Still, the story was full of fast-paced scenes and high tension, what with Fila’s anxiety and Ned’s bull-like take on life. It was certainly interesting, and set a good ground for the next book.
***I was given an ARC from the writer in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***