Nice Western romance story. I was hoping for more, way more. I almost put this down but gave it another shot. This line: "Be my wife, all my life"
is what convinced me to keep reading. I liked the characters enough to keep reading and the premise sounded really interesting but I just didn't find myself attached or moved by anything in this as I wanted to be. The plot and pacing definitely could have been juiced up.
This is my first Jodi Thomas book so I'm not familiar with her writing. I felt too much time was focused on things that weren't really interesting or as dramatic as they were supposed to be and little time was spent on the central characters: Carter and Bailee. I struggled to truly believe Bailee and Carter falling so quickly in love given the little amount of time they spent together and actually communicating. I really felt more of the story should have focused on them as a married couple rather than them individually helping the town sheriff, hiding Gypies, and running after criminals.
The world building in this I felt was lacking in some areas, especially intimate scenes. It just made the reading disruptive and choppy which was frustrating. There were parts where I literally had to go back and re-read passages because I had difficulty picturing exactly what was going on in a scene or the physical positions and actions of the characters weren't translating well or just didn't make any sense. It takes you completely out of the scene when you run into problems like that and can be very distracting. Trying to figure out if the couple are lying down or standing while having sex can just ruin the moment. :/ Because of that I just couldn't fully get into it and I felt the overall story and my enjoyment suffered because of it.
Carter made for an interesting hero. I liked him, he was really sweet but I do wish the author wasn't so heavy-handed with his brooding silence and selective hearing quirks. At times he came off a little too empty-headed and slow rather than reserved and quiet. His back story and how he came to be the way he is heartbreaking, I just struggled to connect with him. Given his careful nature and weariness around new people I found it a little hard to believe how quickly he became smitten with Bailee who is the complete opposite of him. I don't mind beta heroes, I love them, but here I guess you can say I found the passion, emotions, reactions overall totally lacking, especially where Carter is concerned. I wanted more from him, Bailee and the story.
Bailee I wasn't really impressed with. I liked her at times but she frustrated me too. Her constant habit of second-guessing and mistrusting Carter started to wear thin and I didn't understand. While the story takes place in a span of 1-2 months I felt the romance arc was incredibly rushed and not really believable. Why? Because the amount of time these two actually spend together actually communicating was very little. Carter is not the talkative type, the beginning of the story he's a mute and Bailee has to corner him into talking to her. Once he starts to open up to her I was hoping we would get more meaningful alone time or special moments but except for a hesitant quick peek-a-boo 'revealing' by the peach trees nothing else happens. The author divides these two up quite often throughout the story, spending ridiculous amount of time apart worrying about secondary characters that for me, were not interesting enough to take up page time. The author doesn't waste time on any flowery prose but rather blunt straight-to-the-point dialogue, which is fine in some cases, but here I found it a little jarring and missing it's mark. This is a Western-romance after all. And there are some sweet touching moments in here but I found them fleeting, very rushed and just.... cold for the lack of a better term. I didn't get any emotion behind the ILY confessions at the end. I wanted to be swept away or at least feel
something and I didn't. Everything just read very dry and detached. The end conclusion I found very abrupt and anticlimactic considering the time these two spent apart. So yeah, great potential but the overall writing style and execution of the story I found lacking.