Single father Owen Haskins is worried about his emotionally troubled 7-year-old son, Ian. The brilliant little boy is placed in Faith Russell’s second-grade class after they move to East Shore on Cedar Island. Although Owen is attracted to her, he isn’t sure Faith is the right teacher for his son. Faith’s lack of trust in men slowly recedes when, against her better judgment, she begins to date Owen. Over the coming weeks, their relationship deepens, although they agree that it can’t become serious. Too bad Faith’s heart refuses to listen. Owen proposes marriage, but instead of telling her he loves her, he explains that he wants Ian to have a mother. Deeply hurt, Faith breaks off their relationship. She regrets that she’s allowed herself to fall for both Ian and his handsome father. Too late, Owen realizes his mistake. But how can he change Faith’s mind about him and prove that he’s more than a cold-hearted lawyer who doesn’t need love?
I loved the too-real secrets finally revealed about Ian, Owen, and Faith. They each had to learn to have faith in others before they realized they could also love. How nice that it all worked out in the end. – Barbara Morrisette
Her Daughter’s Father, A Cedar Island Tale, Book 3
Gretchen Martindale, a former foster child herself, steps up when Laine, 12, and Nettie, 5, need a home after they run away from their foster home to stop the foster dad from molesting Nettie. Gretchen’s heart becomes entwined with the girls and she decides to adopt them, creating the family she thought she’d never have. But Laine aches to find her birth mother. When school counselor, Craig, offers to pay for a DNA search, no one is more surprised than he with the results. Laine is Craig’s daughter, the result of a long-ago hook-up. Since Gretchen is already falling for the handsome counselor, and he for her, things might work out well. Or maybe not… Laine says she doesn’t want a dad, just a mom. And Craig? He’s a dedicated commitment-phobe. Does this family stand a chance of getting together?
This highly emotional story tackles some real life difficult issues in a reasonable and hopeful way. I think it’s important to read stories where injured people become survivors rather than victims…This is also a love story that goes way beyond the typical “lust” love story that I see so much of today. Excellent writing too. – Ronna Lord
Heartstrings – A Cedar Island Tale, Book 2
Veterinarian Joel Taylor has been in love with his wife, Angela Wright, a family physician, since they met in college. At a conference, he has a drunken one-night fling with an old girlfriend–the biggest mistake of his life when . Ridden with guilt, he is desperate to preserve their marriage, begs for forgiveness and insists Angela can trust him to remain faithful. But months later, when she discovers that she’s pregnant again—at 45!—she continues to wrestle with her doubts. Will Joel be tempted to cheat again, perhaps with one of the customers at his vet clinic? Is Roxy really out of the picture, now that her brother owns a llama farm on Cedar Island and enlists Joel to care for his animals? And does Joel really love Angela, or does he simply want to stay married for the sake of their children, whom he adores? Angela no longer feels she can control her own body, much less her relationship with Joel. An emergency cesarean birth saves the baby but spins her deeper into depression. Joel enlists the assistance of her obstetrician and a pair of marriage counselors. But have they reached Angela in time?
Absolutely recommend it as a read. Keep in mind it isn’t a lighthearted, fun easily dismissed romance novel. This has meat to it. The theme of sorrow and redemption is profound…. Jan Barger
Concealed Attractions – A Cedar Island Tale, Book 1
Dannilynn Kelly may have been date-raped, but she sets aside how badly her first year at college ended, eager to work at Joel Taylor’s veterinary clinic on Cedar Island in Washington state. There she meets Ben Edwards, a veterinary extern. His friendship becomes her key support when she discovers she’s pregnant. Determined to keep her pregnancy a secret from her parents, she returns to college, but her worst fears are realized when her father pays her a surprise visit at private Buckley College. Convinced that Ben is the baby’s father, he demands that Danni give up the baby. Unwilling to do so, she moves into a little cabin in the woods and Ben is present when she gives birth and the two of them revel in parenting Danni’s child. Then the unthinkable happens. Although each is in love with the other, neither Ben nor Dannilynn acknowledge their feelings for each other until a final crisis, precipitated by Danni’s former boyfriend, threatens Ben’s externship and his future career as a veterinarian.
The interpersonal dynamics in this touching romantic drama are sometimes painful to read, but Vale carries her characters through every misfortune with sensitivity and integrity. We come to care for them, root for them — and rejoice when their strengths pull them out of seemingly hopeless situations. A good read! – Virginia Herrick