For Jessie’s Sake
by Kate Welsh
(Silh. Spec. Ed. #1878, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0373-24878-4
Abby Hopewell is the third Hopewell sister to get a story. For Jessie's Sake is clearly part of a series, but it does stand well on its own. Abby is the sister everyone has given up on. She has closed off her heart and built a life that is really only a half-life. She operates the family's bed and breakfast, while her sisters operate the winery and the other parts of the Hopewell family legacy. Abby was hurt once when younger and is not ready to put her heart on the line again.

Colin McCarthy was the man who hurt her. Actually, he was just a young boy, trying to grow up. Several years older than Abby, Colin joined the army to keep from caring too much for a young Abby. But when she turned 18 and graduated from high school, Abby seduced him and he did not resist. Unfortunately, the next morning he humiliated her and made her feel unloved when he denied anything was going on to his friend. Actually, he thought he was protecting her from a big gossip. Before he could apologize, Abby's rich and powerful father threatened him and his family with bankruptcy if he didn't leave and never return. Colin couldn't even come back for his sister's funeral a few months later. Abby thinks he just ditched her.

Now Colin is back with his four-year-old daughter. He briefly married and had this lovely child but he chose unwisely. His wife decided she didn't want her daughter or him and Colin has been raising Jessie peacefully for years. He is back to try to restore the family farm, something he has always wanted to do. He also wants to develop part of it and use this as the foundation of his own development/contracting company.

Abby is running for mayor of the town against the friend who interrupted her love tryst all those years ago. Harley Bryant has grown up to be the town’s banker and thinks he has more power than he does. He is interested in helping Colin, because he is set to make a huge profit. But Abby is running on a no-development platform. The town has become susceptible to flooding and the farm is in an area that could add to the run-off, thus causing more possibility of flooding than ever before.

The lines have been drawn. But there is a kink. Colin is still attracted to Abby and she to him. Colin has to stay at the B&B because the farmhouse is not fit to live in and Jessie is not able to rough it yet. Their relationship develops as Colin and Abby find the things that drew them together. Jessie adds to that trust and relationship building. But how can they seek the future when so much of the past is unresolved?

The story line is appealing and it is fun to see two people fight their attraction and yet, give in at the same time. Colin is a romantic and knows just what buttons of Abby’s to push. Abby starts to love him but is hesitant to trust her heart again.

Harley is a scum and it seems incongruous that this town couldn’t see that about him. The expected disaster is a bit dramatic and other than moving the story to a conclusion is more of a disappointment than a good addition. The supporting cast of characters acts predictably and thus didn’t add much to the tale.

Despite those distractions, I did enjoy the story. Jessie is a cute child who acts like a child and the relationship develops by pulling the reader in and keeping the reader interested. That engagement is at the heart of a good romance. For Jessie's Sake is a good romance.

--Shirley Lyons

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