I was asked to read The Reluctant Courtship of Jack Allan, by award-winning author, Dayle King Searle. At first, I found it a bit slow moving, but it soon picked up the pace. This is a wonderful human interest story with a little sexual tension and romance thrown in. I laughed. I almost cried. I am so glad Ms. Searle invited me to read it, because I loved it.
Jack Allan has been pretty much keeping to himself since his wife and newborn daughter died 3 years ago. He somehow thinks their deaths are his fault, and he still grieves for them. Everyone in town has a granddaughter, cousin, or friend they want him to meet. Jack refuses until his feisty neighbor, Ruby insists he meet her granddaughter, Ally. Jack is smitten, but Ally insist they be “just friends”.
This alternately poignant and funny tale is set in a small farming community in Idaho. I learned a lot about farming in general, and more about growing potatoes, as well as safety in snow. (I always wondered why my potatoes had bumps on them.) I also learned a lot about farm life, and about surviving outdoors in a cold climate. I appreciate it when I can enjoy a book and learn a few things, too.
I especially liked the little things that added realism, for example, Jack’s sister, Gwen, insists he set the table correctly, so her boys will grow up knowing the fork goes on the left side of the dinner plate. She doesn’t want anyone to think they were hicks just because they are growing up on a farm.
After the “just friends” conversation, Jack finds himself entangled in a series of brief relationships, and wants no part of them. Meanwhile, Ally helps him to work through his guilt, and shows him the deaths were not his fault.
Jack’s close family is drawn even closer by a series of frightening experiences, and Ally and Ruby are right there. The characters are good salt-of-the-earth people anyone would love to have as friends and neighbors. These are neighbors who help each other in times of crisis, like when Jack had to leave a wheat field half-done after an accident left his brother-in-law unconscious. There were several inconsequential characters who mostly stayed in the background. Those folks contributed to the sense of community in the town of Corbett.
The Reluctant Courtship of Jack Allan is a wonderful inspirational novel of family, friends, romance, near-tragedy, and love. I knew the story had to end eventually, but found myself wishing it could continue a bit longer.
What Makes This Reviewer Grumpy?
Despite the usual punctuation and grammatical errors, the book is well-written, and flows smoothly:
- lots of split infinitives;
- missing commas;
- misplacement of “only” in sentences;
- beginning sentences with conjunctions;
- bring vs. take (we bring things here; we take things there).