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Thursday, May 17, 2012

'Naomi's Wish' Cypress Hollow Yarn #3 by Rachael Herron

From the BLURB:

It had always been Dr Naomi Fontaine's dream to practice small-town medicine - an ambition that has brought her to the quirky, tight-knit community of Cypress Hollow. But no matter how hard she tries, the locals still treat her with suspicion.

Then ruggedly handsome Rig Keller walks into town and Naomi's heart stops for all the wrong reasons.

For a few months back Rig was a rip-roaring, throw-caution-to-the wind one night stand. Now he's her partner at the practice - and keen to play doctors once more...

Will the instantly popular new medic wreck her dreams? Or be the one to help make her wish come true...?

Dr Naomi Fontaine might have made a huge mistake in moving to Cypress Hollow. The townsfolk are wary of her and even after months of being the only doctor in town and eating at the same diner every morning, nobody has really warmed up to her. Not that she can blame them . . .  Naomi knows that while she’s a great doctor, her bedside manner leaves a little something to be desired. She can’t do chit-chat or idle small-talk; she’s painfully shy and in the past that aloofness has come across as stuck-up.

Naomi could have helped herself if she’d just explained the reason she moved to Cypress Hollow in the first place – Eliza Carpenter. The famed knitter and writer was Naomi’s patient, and eventually a very dear friend . . .  until she died of cancer. But in the months that they’d had to grow close to one another, Eliza spoke constantly of Cypress Hollow – and instilled a great wish in Naomi to move to the little town and call it home. Naomi started out with high-hopes for the Hollow – and even opened a free clinic, in honour of her deceased father; a doctor who Naomi loved dearly, so much so that she followed in his footsteps.

But everything is falling apart, and maybe it’s all Naomi’s fault. . .  so maybe that’s why she had a hot, intense fling at an out-of-town conference with the handsomest man she had ever seen.

Just when Naomi is at her lowest, a stranger comes to Cypress Hollow – a stranger who Naomi sort of knows, after their one night together.

Hank ‘Rig’ Keller has returned from his lonely job as doctor on the oil-rigs to stay with his widowed brother, little nephew Milo and elderly father, Frank. He is even thinking of buying into the local practice, currently manned by one doctor . . .  who, surprise-surprise! happens to be the one-night stand he can’t stop thinking about.

Rig Keller didn’t expect to trip over Doc Fontaine ever again, but now that he has he can’t seem to get her out of his system. Not even with the complication of them working together (or the technicality that Naomi is his boss). Rig can’t even help his attraction when Naomi’s little sister, by all accounts a reckless wanderer, turns up on her doorstep seven months pregnant, sending Naomi’s carefully organized life spiralling into orbit. . .

‘Naomi’s Wish’ (called ‘Wishes and Stitches’ in the US) is the third book in Rachael Herron’s lovely-addictive contemporary romance series, ‘Cypress Hollow Yarn’.

I have really enjoyed this series. I read first book, ‘Eliza’s Gift’ last year, followed by ‘Lucy’s Kiss’ and was absolutely bowled over by how much I enjoyed the sweet little romances – set in the country town of Cypress Hollow, and loosely tangled around a renowned knitter called Eliza Carpenter. To be more precise, the stories are about the people who find themselves at loose ends after Eliza dies of cancer – but her friendships, plotting and patterns are still felt in the Hollow.

In the case of ‘Naomi’s Wish’, Dr Naomi Fontaine was Eliza’s doctor who, in the wake of Eliza’s sad passing, decides to pack her city life up and move to the Hollow. When the book begins, Naomi has been living in Cypress Hollow for quite a few months – but you’d never know it. The townspeople barely register her presence, and Naomi is too shy to initiate friendships or even acquaintances. It’s rather painful to read how shy Naomi is, and how misjudged by the town for her aloofness. So it’s rather a surprise when big, handsome Rig Keller walks through the door of the local diner, and Naomi is horrified to discover it’s the man she had a one-night stand with a few weeks ago. Seems that Naomi enjoyed letting her hair down outside of Cypress Hollow, but in a twist of fate that one moment of recklessness is coming to bite her in the behind. . .

Rig is actually in town for a few reasons. His brother, Jake, is a widower whose wife died three years ago. Jake and Megan had a big love, and her loss nearly crippled him. It’s something Rig has seen before – in their father, Frank. When Jake and Rig’s mum died, Frank stayed in bed for six months and it was only with coaxing and tough-love that Jake and Rig were able to save him from himself. Rig has come to Cypress Hollow and intends to stay; to help his brother and father any way he can, and watch his beloved nephew, Milo grow up. Jake is doing okay – he’s just a little over-protective and over-cautious, and he refuses to move or change anything that Megan touched.

When he sees Doc Naomi Fontaine, Rig is counting his lucky stars that he decided to leave the oil-rig life behind and move to the Hollow. Memories of her have been plaguing him for weeks, and he can’t believe his luck that the small town he has decided to move to comes complete with the woman of his dreams. But he’s a little surprised to discover that the Naomi from his day-dreams is a little more cold-shouldered in real life, less self-assured and painfully shy.

One of my favourite things in this book was the Keller family. Jake, Rig, Milo and Frank were wonderfully sweet, and offered some hilarious moments;
“So,” said Jake, and Rig could see the effort he was putting into cheering up. “How did your first day go as a new citizen?”
“I’m going to have to work with the hottest one-night stand I ever had.”
Jake said, “Rig!”
Milo bounced once, hard, and said, “My nightstand is next to my bed. Where’s yours?”

I found it really interesting that both Jake and Frank are wounded men – missing the loves of their lives. For Rig, his dad and brother’s heartbreak offers a warning not to lose your heart – but I thought it was really interesting to read about these men who have had to pick up the pieces of their lives after great loss.

I liked Naomi’s family a little less – mainly, her sister. Anna is Naomi’s half-sister, they share the same mother, but Anna’s father is their mother’s second husband, whom she is still married to. Naomi has always felt that Anna was their mother’s favourite – despite her recklessness. Anna ran away from home and has had a number of dubious jobs and relationships, and she is known to call up in the middle of the night and beg for money to be wired. When Anna winds up on Naomi’s front-porch, seven months pregnant and refusing to speak of the father, Naomi is upset but not all that surprised. There was so much friction and a history of hurt between Naomi and Anna, and I felt like we needed more page-time with the sisters. I also thought it was odd when Jake and Anna grew close . . . I thought that Anna was just using Jake at her convenience; she can’t hold down a job, has a baby on the way, so she sees leaching on to widower as the easy way out. Maybe Naomi loves her sister too much to think that critically of her, but I was really not keen on the Anna/Jake pairing and I wished someone would have pointed out the imbalance in the relationship.

I also thought that a lot of revelations happened to Naomi towards the end of the book. . .  and I wished that they had been more evenly distributed. Because they were such BIG revelations, I wanted Naomi (and the reader) to spend more time dissecting them – instead it felt like we were led to a galloping conclusion without the in-depth emotional examination I would have liked.

But those are my only small complaints about this book. Everything else worked for me. I loved Naomi and Rig – he was such a charming man’s man, while she was an awkward wallflower and it was adorable to read how those clashing personalities actually complemented one another. I also had quite a swoony moment, when Rig nursed Naomi through a bout of food-poisoning. I think everyone, at some stage, has wondered what their loved one’s gross-out limits are. Childbirth is probably a pretty good indicator; but food-poisoning has got to be up there because it ain’t pretty. And if my partner reacted the way that Rig did, they’d have my eternal devotion;
And even pale as she was, face shiny with dried sweat, her curls tangled as if they’d been in a blender, Rig’s heart twisted when he looked at her. He pressed kiss after kiss into her temple, her forehead, her cheek, and when he did, she snuggled closer to him, her arms wrapping around his neck or his arm, whatever was closest to her. He wasn’t sure if it was just because she was sick, but he hoped not. He loved it.

As with all the ‘Cypress Hollow Yarn’ books, I loved the custodial wisdom of Eliza Carpenter’s knitted words of wisdom. They’re lovely, interspersed throughout the chapters and surprisingly easy to apply to real-life;
Grace is knowing when to bind off.
-    E.C.

‘Naomi’s Wish’ was another beautiful romance by Rachael Herron. Reading one of these books is the equivalent to throwing a lovely knitted shawl over your shoulders and snuggling into the warmth. Lovely, lovely, lovely – and I do so hope it’s not the last time we visit Cypress Hollow, because I already want to return!


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