Ann Gabhart's "Small Town Girl" is a gentle and quiet love story set in the quaint town of Rosey Corner, Kentucky. While love is blooming, World War II is raging across the ocean and threatening the tranquil haven of the Merritt family. Gabhart captures the fears and sentiments of Americans when the U.S. entered the war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor without actually taking readers into the war zone. The military aspect is light, compared to some other novels that I have read set during the same era. The portrayal of emotions from the perspectives of a future soldier to the loved ones left behind, seem completely authentic and are probably similar to the feelings that veterans in our own families experienced. Gabhart delves into the emotion of the war and integrates it into her love story between the lead characters Kate and Jay.
There were a few times that I sensed a back story involving the Merritt family, and I just discovered that "Small Town Girl" is a follow-up to "Angel Sister." Despite this, I connected with the primary and secondary characters early-on in the novel. It is easy to support a union between Kate and Jay, especially when the irresistible Lorena offers her full support. Kate puts up barriers to their relationship initially which adds love-story style suspense. Once those barriers are mostly removed midway the novel, the plot seems to slow. There is a quaintness in the quiet Rosey Corner life, but it does not always create plot interest. The onslaught of World War II helps the novel to pick-up speed as well as conflict between Kate and Jay. "Small Town Girl" ends on a happy note, but the conflict and resolution could occur sooner to avoid the midway lags.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell, a Division of Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Ann Gabhart has a wonderful recipe for a story in Small Town Girl by adding history with romance, sprinkling in some mystery too. The town of Rosey Corner is where the Merritt family lives in a population of about 100 people. On a September day, the oldest Merritt daughter Evie is getting married to Mike, with the best man being Jay Turner a lifelong friend of Mike's. Kate begins to open up her heart to the possibility of love, though she is warned by friends and family not to trust Jay. Graham a long time resident asks Jay to stick around and help him with the odd jobs he does in town.
Jay normally doesn't stay anywhere long enough to get to know people or put down roots. In fact, because of his past, the very idea of "family" scares him so much that when war breaks out he enlists. Love is happening to many in the Merritt family and many are learning the truth inside their hearts some of which is hard to face. Kate, being the middle child, tends to normally be a fixer when life goes off kilter. Yet, some things people can't fix. Here is where the element of prayer and faith is invited to become a reality.
I loved the story as characters each had their stories to share. It made the history more personal and real. Included in the novel is what our President at that time said after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Here is a picture of what life might have looked like at that time when one morning the United States was at peace, the next thrust into war. As you read the novel, a couple of townspeople who served during WWI share their memories in order to help the next generation face all the changes.
Kate Merritt's father shares how the war affected him. Her parents show how though their marriage was at times rocky the Lord saw them through it all. The truth about prayer is shared throughout the pages from various points of view. I loved how Scripture would come at certain points in the story too. My mind was remembering the many war movies I have watched, but how few show how soldiers were comforted and how chaplains were with them in the trenches or foxholes.
If you love romance and mystery, this is a book you have got to read. I have hardly shared the number of stories within the story that occurs. It was exciting, heart gripping as well as filled with hope. Don't pass up this excellent story! You won't be sorry you took time to read it. It was awesome!