Country Roads by Nancy Herkness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Country Roads by Nancy Herkness is a 2013 Montlake Publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Julia Castillo is headed for Santuary, West Virginia to show her paintings to the owner of the art gallery that purchased her first works. Traveling in a rusted out old automobile, Julia has a flat tire. Luckily a gentleman stops to help her who turns out to be an attorney and the mayor of Santurary.
Paul, had bigger dreams for himself than living in Santuary. Family obligations have kept him here and it looks like he's in for the long haul. He can't believe it when he stops to help the beautiful lady with a flat tire and she turns out to be Julia Castillo, the famous artist. Why on earth would she be coming to Sanctuary?
Well, the truth is Julia is seeking to escape her uncle and hopefully find a market for her new paintings. For years, Julia has been under the watchful eye of her uncle who has kept her from experiencing any kind of stress. It is his opinion that the new direction Julia's paintings have taken will open her up to some harsh critisism and that could effect her health.
Now that she has some space away from everyone that is knowledgable about her health condition, Julia experiences love with Paul, swimming in a river, riding a motorcycle, and a high spirited horse she has fallen in love with.
Naturally, there are problems. One is that Paul has put her so high up on a pedestal he refuses to ask her to stay in his small hometown and live a rather ordinary life. Julia's uncle is still trying to maintain control over her professional life and her personal life, and Paul's brother has serious issues and Paul feels obligated to keep an eye on him and his nephew, Eric. These family problems are one of the reasons Paul has found himself chained to Sanctuary and has had to put some personal goals on the back burner for the foreseeable future.
This contemporary romance takes the reader on a journey with Julia Castillo as she emerges from behind the protective confines her life has been up to this point. This is a new world for Julia and she is relishing the freedom of making her own decisions and dealing with the fallout as a stable, healthy, mature adult. Her fervent wish is for Paul to think of her as a strong, normal woman and not the fragile, naive woman her uncle would have everyone think she is. The irony of this is Paul does see her that way and has no reason not to. This works against Julia when push comes to shove and a decision has to be made about the future of the relationship.
The author brings up some interesting topics that requires a bit of thinking on the part of the reader. If you have a family member or friend that is dealing with an illness or disease and stress reduction could make a difference, it might be natural to smother them with concern and protectiveness. But, did Uncle Carlo really help Julia by being so controlling and yes, in my opinion, manipulative? Sooner or later a person in that type of situation will long to be free from it. Other issues concern family obligations and how far we really should go when as an adult we have a sibling that has major problems. Paul has his own dreams and hopes, but because of his brother he had to put those ideas on hold. Is Paul really that obligated to his brother and nephew? Also, Paul makes choices on Julia's behalf by making a decision regarding the future of their relationship without thinking about what Julia might want or what might make her happy. Sure, he has her best interest at heart, but so did Uncle Carlo in many ways. So, poor Julia has to step up and prove herself and not only that she has to let Paul see the vulernable side of herself she tried so hard to keep from him.
I was really absorbed in this drama and all the family dynamics involved. The romance between Paul and Julia is hot and heavy, but also burdened with the issues they are having to face. I loved how everything came together in the end as everyone faces the errors they have made in life and works to put those mistakes behind them and proceed toward a fruitful and successful future.
This novel is steamy and that is fine since the physical relationship for Julia especially is a sexual awakening for her, but there were maybe a few too many sex scenes and for me personally, I start to skip over them after awhile so I can get back to the story. That would be my only complaint and that's just a personal thing and not any real critisism of the author or story.
This one gets an A.