25 January 2015

Courted By Trouble by Bree Cariad

 Stephanie Knight’s life wasn’t easy. Even brought up in Hyacinth, discipline had not been a part of her family growing up. After her mother’s death, she made many mistakes and after the worst, ended up almost homeless. Thanks to her best friend’s father, she had a safe place to live while she tried to get her life together. Fear of people’s reactions kept her away from Hyacinth, but when her best friends found her again, she could no longer deny her desire to truly live.

Christopher Triton moved to town and turned her life upside down. With the support of her friends, Steph slowly got her self-esteem back. When Christopher declared his intention to court her, she couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful. But things were never smooth sailing for Stephanie. Thankfully, with a strong man at her side, she was able to weather the tough spots. His discipline allowed her to let go of all past guilt and grasp onto her positive future. His love helped her feel as though she could do anything. Which meant the world when her strange past came to call
Despite growing up in Hyacinth, Stephanie was not raised in a household that practiced Domestic Discipline. What she was raised in was a household with a father who turned to alcohol after his wife was killed in a car accident and who became physically abusive toward Stephanie any time she “messed up.’ When he decides he’s done taking care of her and kicks her out by dumping her on the side of the road after a particularly bad beating, Stephanie is fortunate that her friend Cami’s father finds her, takes her to the hospital, and proceeds to help her get her life headed in the right direction – even if that path takes her away from Hyacinth for a while. Once she returns to Hyacinth, Mr. Covington’s continued help enables her to start over but the emotional abuse she received from her father has taken a huge toll on her, leaving her feeling unworthy of love and happiness and with no interest in courting… until she meets Chris.

Perhaps it’s because neither Stephanie nor Chris were raised in DD households, but there is less emphasis on DD in this installment of the In Hyacinth series than in the previous books. This is not to say that it is absent from the book, but rather that it plays a much smaller role in Stephanie’s story. As such, there seems to be even more of an emphasis on Stephanie coming to terms with the smack downs that life has dealt her – some of which she never saw coming. I really liked that during the course of Stephanie’s journey of self-discovery she learned a very important lesson – that the family you choose can support you in ways you never expected and that they are just as important, and sometimes more so, than family bound by blood. As much as I came to like Chris and how much he supported Stephanie emotionally, I REALLY liked that the town council turned down his initial courting request. Stephanie may not have been raised in a DD household, but she was raised in Hyacinth and to allow someone who was not committed to the courting system she was raised within could have be very detrimental to her progress – it also served to show her how much the town cared for her well-being. Courted by Trouble is an excellent addition to the In Hyacinth series and I’m looking forward to the next book – which I really hope for it to be Dora’s story.
About the series "In Hyacinth" by Bree Cariad:

Hyacinth, Washington is all about old-fashioned values. In Hyacinth words like trust, honor, and kindness aren't just buzzwords. Hyacinth is a community built on tradition and trust, where men are the head of the home and women are encouraged to follow their lead.

Each story in the series is of a young woman (18-20) and her struggle to figure out who she is in this little town while at the same time going through Hyacinth's old-fashioned courting system. On their way to meet, get to know, and finally marry their princes, these heroines grow in ways they and their town never expected.
As Dora still lived in the same house she had always lived in, finding her was easy. Stephanie and Cami made plans to meet up for coffee and Stephanie, after pacing back and forth in front of Dora’s house, finally got up the nerve to walk up to the door and knock. Dora was their quiet friend and she felt horrible that both of them had disappeared on her. Stephanie hoped she had found others to hang around with.
The door opened and there she stood, Dora Jane Lexington with her shoulder-length brown hair, wide eyes, and a shocked expression on her face. “Stephanie? Stephie!” she shrieked, jumping forward and hugging Stephanie so tight she almost couldn’t breathe. “Oh, I’ve been worried. How are you? Are you okay? Back in town to stay?” she asked, rattling off questions almost as fast as Cami could.
“Hey, Dora,” Stephanie said when she released her. “Got time for a horrible friend?”
A small smile crossed Dora’s face and she nodded. “Come in and we can talk.”
They walked into the living room and Stephanie stopped. “Wanna go for a coffee?” she asked knowing she needed to get Dora to the Lava Lamp where Cami would join them.
“Uh, sure?” At first Dora looked confused and then she smiled again. “Let me get dressed and I’ll be ready.” She ran upstairs and a few minutes later came back down in jeans and a sweater. “I like what you’ve done with your hair,” she said as they stepped outside the door. “It’s bouncy.”
Stephanie laughed softly as they walked down the street. “This was Cami’s idea. I told her I wanted a change and she came up with green highlights.”
“How’s she doing? I hear she got engaged.”
“Lots of things have happened in the last year,” Stephanie said quietly. “For all of us. I was sorry to hear about your dad.”
Dora nodded, her normal reaction to anything highly emotional. Her friend rarely gave emotion away, but she had several tells that as if the last year hadn’t happened, Stephanie could recall clearly. And she saw each and every one of them in the woman next to her. Dora was hurting. “Thanks. Mom and I are getting by.”
“Are you?” Stephanie asked gently, not wanting to dredge up anything bad, but at the time needing Dora to know she could turn to her if needed. “We’ve all got some stuff going on, but at least we’ve got each other, right?” She wrapped her arm around Dora’s and pulled her into the Lava Lamp which was crowded on a Saturday morning. “Oh, a table’s opening up. Grab it while I get our coffees.”
Dora quickly made her way over and captured the table while she ordered their drinks. “One peppermint mocha, one cinnamon latte, and one black coffee. All tall.” After paying, she waited the few minutes for their drinks to be ready and thought about how to bring their friend out of what was obviously a bad time for her. Stephanie knew she had needed to disappear, but that didn’t stop her guilt. Dora had never been anything but supportive and loving of her. She would find a way to make this right.
“Who else is coming?” Dora asked as she removed the drinks from the tray, handing Dora her mocha while putting the latte in front of herself.
“There you are!” Cami’s happy voice made Stephanie smile as Dora startled in surprise and then joy. In her normal exuberance, Cami tackle-hugged their friend, almost knocking her over. As she pulled back, she sat down and said, “Kathy would’ve come but every scent makes her ill right now.” She inhaled the coffee in front of her and took a large drink, humming in enjoyment.
“How did you come to enjoy black coffee?” Dora asked, watching her. “You used to think it was gross.”
Cami smiled. “Jerod loves it this way. I’ve learned to adapt.”
“So,” Dora said after a couple uncomfortable moments, “it’s been awhile.”
Wincing, Cami nodded. “Yes, it has. Sorry about that. I was involved in my own mess and kind of ignored what else was going on.”
“Me too,” Stephanie said. “I’ve been living in Hins Creek.”
“So close?” Dora said in surprise. “I’ve been worried about you both.”
Stephanie felt like kicking herself. How could she have felt that she was the only one hurting? She felt so selfish.
“So what are you two up to?” Dora asked, her tone clearing which for her meant that in that moment she had forgiven them for forgetting her. Stephanie shook her head, thinking that Dora had to be the sweetest and kindest woman alive. She wondered if Cami and she deserved her friendship. “I mean, I know you’re getting married, Cami. Congratulations, by the way. But what else?”
Bree enjoys good books with great characters. While she may be an adult, her favorite memories are from her teenage years reading inspirational romance with girls just like her and strong heroes. That's one of the reasons she's written In Hyacinth, a series of Courting Romances.

Courting Romance - where contemporary romance meets traditional values.


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