Reviewed by Vickie McDonough
Courting Emma by Sharlene MacLaren
"...a very good story with a great message of forgiveness and letting go of past hurts."
Can a woman who has locked up her heart and thrown away the key find love?
Emma Browning runs a boardinghouse filled with men, but she has a reputation for not allowing any one man to get close to her. Raised by an abusive alcoholic father, Emma barricaded her heart and rarely gets close to anybody. When the handsome pastor, Jonathon Atkins, moves in Emma finds herself flustered at every turn. What in the world is wrong with her?
Jon has admired Emma since they were children, but now she’s a beautiful woman who stirs his heart. The problem is she’s not a Christian, which makes her an impossible choice for a minister’s wife. He longs to see her give her heart to God, but not just because he cares for her.
Though he despises what Ezra Browning did to Emma, Jon feels pulled to help her drunken father. The prickly alcoholic doesn’t want his assistance, but Jon feels certain that the key to helping Emma is to help her father.
When Emma starts receiving mysterious letters from a woman she’s never heard of before, her curiosity is piqued. The woman claims to know dark secrets about Emma’s family but at the same time, her letters point Emma toward God. Can Emma drop her protective walls and allow God—and Jon—to reach her beleaguered heart? Or will her bitterness and unforgiveness rob her of the joy she could have in the future?
Courting Emma is the third book in Sharlene MacLaren’s Little Hickman Creek series. The author did a good job setting Emma up in previous stories as a self-reliant woman who avoids the advances of men whenever possible. Emma finds herself in a fix when Jon Atkins moves into her boardinghouse. Jon is the only man ever to intrigue her, and now he lives under her own roof. He makes his interest in her known and doesn’t seem fazed when she gives him the cold shoulder, but Emma knows the daughter of the town drunk isn’t good enough for the preacher.
The author did a great job of setting up the characters for the second and third books in the first story. By the time their story rolled around, readers already know their situation and their emotions are engaged. There isn’t quite as much electricity between Emma and Jon as between the other heroes and heroines in this series, but it’s still a very good story with a great message of forgiveness and letting go of past hurts. The letters Emma receives from an unknown woman add a bit of intrigue and later help shed light on a hidden family secret. I enjoyed reading Courting Emma, as well as the other books in the Little Hickman Creek series.
Vickie McDonough is an award-winning inspirational romance author. She has written four Heartsong novels and five novellas. Her stories have placed first in several prestigious contests, such as the ACFW Noble Theme, the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest, and the Texas Gold contest. She has also written books reviews for nearly five years and enjoys mentoring new writers. Vickie is a wife of thirty-one years, mother to four sons, and a new grandma. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling. Vickie loves hearing from her readers via e-mail.