I almost gave the book 5 stars. It's been quite a while since my last 5 stars. In the end I decided against it. I had a severe wanting after reading this book. I wanted to see more for Conor and Olivia and this book stopped short before being great.
Laura Lee Guhrke's other books always seem to miss the target in my book. That being said, this old book of hers finally showed me her caliber as a writer. About 10% into the book I realized I have read this book before and loved it. This time around, I find that I still do.
I am not big on western/americana stories. But I do have a few old favorites in this sub-genre. Conor's way is one of them. An Irishman (36) with a hard life behind him meets a southern spinster (29) with her 3 adopted daughters. Olivia needed help. A single unmarried woman with 3 daughters from her best friend, she struggled to survive. Someone threatened her for her land. She held on. One day she came across an unconscious man on the road, heavily beaten. She saved him and changed her life.
What makes the book stand out? I think it is the real-ness of Conor's ordeals. This is a romance hero who actually did have a reason to avoid love. A drifter, running from his past. Guhrke portrayed Conor vividly. It is amazing how she made him come to life in this book. Guhrke picked Olivia to be his heroine. A spinster that she is, I do not see her that way. A previous southern belle who lost everything and everyone in the war, took in 3 girls from her best friend who passed away and finally met the man who appeared all wrong but was actually the one. I am grateful that Guhrke did not make her out to be too spinsterish or practical. She had her feminine appeals, just did not have time or the opportunity for vanity. Conor and Olivia are great together. A lost soul finding his home.
I don't usually like mother hen heriones. But this is what I meant by Guhrke did not make Olivia into some spinster. She loved the girls dearly but she was still herself. The girls' relationship with Conor actually made this story better. This is all very unusual for me. In another book written by another writer, I would have hated the story. But Laura Lee Gurhke successully convinced me in this tale of hers. The characters, lead and secondary, are exactly what the story needs to be endearing.
I have to take a star away, despite that I love the story. The romantic relationship left me feeling a little empty. I wish Conor and Olivia got more alone time, where they could have explored their romantic feelings more. The wanting is explored but not to my heart's desire. I cannot help but wish for more romance.