Six years before this story begins, Caroline Rogers, barely out of her teens, finds herself needing to raise her two younger siblings. Adopted by the Rogers couple as a young child, Caroline joined the family before Macie and Sam were born. When their parents tragically died within days of each other, Caroline gave up her dream of going to college, sold the family farm, moved the three of them to town in Redbud Hill, and set out to be both mother and father to Macie and Sam. She has provided for them with her photography business but her real dream is to work for National Geographic as a photographer.
Caroline is about to send Sam off to college; Macie has her last year of high school and then she will also be gone, freeing Caroline to pursue her career. Dr. Mick Larsen is a psychiatrist who grew up in their small town and has now returned, purchasing the Rogers family farm that Caroline sold years before. Caroline finds herself alternately annoyed that this handsome man has purchased “their” farm while drawn to his sensitivity, warmth, and deep pain.
Caroline and Mick are characters with a boatload of emotional baggage. Caroline is trying to get past her mother’s suicide when she was a little girl; Mick is dealing with his taciturn, physician father’s chronic displeasure with his only son’s choices. Mick has returned to Redbud Hill for a painful reason involving patients. Much of this book is spent examining both of these characters and their histories.
At the same time, someone seems to be vandalizing parts of the town and surrounding countryside and this ends up closely related to Caroline. One of the best parts of this book is the sweet romance between Caleb and Macie, high school kids who fall in love. Other characters include Mick’s parents, Sam, and various community members.
I can always count on Susan Crandall to craft a well-written novel with carefully drawn characters who suffer from plenty of angst. She has not disappointed with this later offering. The author does a particularly good job of correctly characterizing Mick’s role as a psychiatrist. This is a good book to read on a cold winter evening.