by Sharlene MacLaren
(Little Hickman Creek Series)
Courting Emma is a moving story set in the late 1800's in a small town that touches on forgiveness and overcoming a painful past to live a future of promise. When you first meet Emma she appears hard and tough because she's had to be. Surviving a childhood of abuse and learning to make do on own, Emma doesn't trust others easily. So when Pastor Jonathon sets his sights on her, he has his work cut out for him in winning Emma's heart.
The characters have great depth and a reader can't help but care about them. While reading this book I could sympathize with Emma and I wanted to see her emotionally healed. I cheered Jonathon on in his pursuit of her, enjoying his patience and endurance as he slowly wore down her defenses. The pacing of this book is perfect, the story unfolds in a rhythm that will keep readers turning the pages. This is a keeper!
Description (backcover blurb)
Twenty-Eight year old Emma Browning has built a barricade around her heart to survive the pain of growing up with her alcoholic father, Ezra. As she runs Emma's Boardinghouse, she plays host to an array of unkempt, earthly characters while trying to maintain a protective emotional distance from people. No one has succeeded in getting to know the beautiful yet steely edged proprietress. That is, not until Little Hickman Creek's handsome new pastor, Jonathon Atkins, takes up residence in the boardinghouse and begins to dismantle her carefully controlled world.
Clinging desperately to her stubborn ways and unable to forgive her father, Emma begins receiving letters from a mysterious sender who somehow knows about her and has secret information about Ezra's past. Admist all this, she is surprised--and unsettled--by the attentions of both Jonathon and Billy, the smooth-talking traveling showman.
When the town of Little Hickman Creek is stunned by an unexpected turn of events, will Emma risk removing her protective shell to accept the love of God--and the love of a man?