There are three things you need to know about Ashley Winston: 1) She has six brothers and they all have beards, 2) She is a reader, and 3) She knows how to knit. Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.
As of the publishing of this review, I have not read any of the other Knitting in the City books, but I have read some of the Winston Brothers books (I talked about Grin and Beard It here), and I jumped at the opportunity to borrow and devour this one.
This book tells Ashley Winston's story, the younger and only sister to the six Winston brothers. When she comes home to check on and be with her sick mother, she's also seeing many of her brothers for the first time. What you need to know about Ashley was that growing up in backwoods Tennessee was rough on her, and she escaped to a city as soon as she could. Now her family needs her, and she has to figure out what it means to come home again.
I loved this book, but it was definitely a different type of romance. The slow burn is there, but there's also a lot of grief and hard feelings and, at least for me, the fundamental relationship of this story is the one Ashley has with her family as they deal with her mother's illness. [Sorry for the slight spoiler, though you find out early on that Ashley's mother is very ill.] The family relationships in this one are rough and tender. My own mom died 6 years ago, and it's still a little hard for me to read intense mother-daughter relationship stories, but I'm so glad I read this one.
But lest you think that the relationship takes a back burner, rest assured that you will be pleased. Drew is both sweet and incredibly intense; he's a rock for Ashley as well as the rest of the Winstons. It's difficult to put him in a hero-bucket: he's take charge as well as brooding, intensely poetic and full of all the feelings. In short, he's pretty dreamy.
If you're looking for just a quick fluffy read, you might want to wait to pick up this one. While there is a lot of lightness here, a lot of humor and general sweetness, there is a weightiness that may make you sit with this one a while longer. But you'll be so glad you did.
Should you read it? This book made me laugh and cry and feel more than I'm used to feeling from most contemporary romances. I know my own issues made this resonate with me in particular ways, but I also bow to queen Penny Reid. Yes, you should read it.
Published December 2014 (Updated cover July 2017)