Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+
An oft-quoted bible verse, 1 Corinthians 13 begins, “Love is patient; love is kind…” If you need to know anything about Elizabeth Hunter’s newest offering, Grit: A Love Story on 7th and Main, know that patience and kindness go a LONG way to the hero getting his happy ending with the heroine. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s physically attracted to him but denying her feelings. Simply put, Grit is a slow-burn romance of friends becoming lovers in a beautiful story of overcoming the odds.
Melissa “Missy” and Cary have been friends for years. Missy is a widow whose husband, Calvin, dies tragically in a car accident. Left with a ranch in Oakville to tend and a baby to raise, as any strong woman does, she finds some inner strength, help from her family and friends, and she makes a determined effort to keep and make productive her family ranch. In the periphery, Cary offers help when she decides to take a portion of her ranch and turn them into citrus groves, as a way to find another dependable money stream. Cary is an expert in this area, and he provides her the counsel and friendship necessary to survive the impending years.
Cary liked Missy before she married her husband, Calvin, but their timing simply didn’t work. Instead, he befriended her husband until his death. At that point, he offered Missy support, which eventually grew into strong feelings of attraction. As the story begins, both Missy and Cary are fighting their attraction, Missy more than Cary. Cary wants a future with her, but Missy is intent on staying the course. Her life is complicated with her daughter and the maintenance on the ranch. For much of the story, she doesn’t see where Cary fits into her life romantically even though she is attracted to him. Other outside influences also wreak havoc on their coupling. Much of the story asks the question: “can life-long friends find love together?” Even more, can a strong independent woman lay down her strength to live in the strength of a man again, especially after tragedy? These are the questions that Elizabeth Hunter answers beautifully in Grit.
This was my first book by Elizabeth Hunter. When I began promoting her in my blog, on my Facebook page, and on my Instagram account, suddenly everyone expressed their love for her stories. With that as background, I dived into her story. When I finally surfaced at its ending, these were my general impressions:
- Her style is quite beautiful. Her ability to create pictures of the characters and environment is strong. You can “see” what she is offering in her book, and you feel as though you are walking with the characters through their stories.
- Hunter methodically builds the burn between Cary and Missy. There were times when I wanted to reach through the book and shake Missy. Her ability to keep Cary at arm’s length was supernatural. It was also frustrating at times. As a hero, Cary is everything you want in a man: strong, adept, caring, kind, and, above all, oh so patient. He sees Missy in her independence and fear. He recognizes that she has to control the situation until he gets her into bed. There, his strength is fortified in her willingness to submit to him. She recognizes his talent there and allows him to guide her. It’s this push and pull of their relationship that draws you through their story, especially when Missy’s stubbornness acts to derail the inroads of their coupling. Quite frankly, Cary is a godsend.
- I love that this romance is set in my home state of California. While I don’t live in the area where this is set, I am familiar with it, and I felt connected to the state’s character in the story. It felt like a little bit of me is in it.
- To off-set the tension of the romantic relationship, Hunter balances it with a community issue. For one, it allows Cary and Missy to act as a united front against the “bad” land developers. This helps develop their eventual partnership especially when Missy gets in the way of her self, almost torpedoing her burgeoning relationship with Cary. Offering this other storyline provides some balance to the romance.
- There is another ancillary story here: living life after a spouse’s death and balancing the relationship with your former in-laws. Since Missy and Calvin had a daughter, Abby, Missy is left to raise her with her own set of values. However, this is complicated by Calvin’s parents as their values are contrary to Missy’s, so much so that Hunter develops this storyline throughout the book and allows the granddaughter to eventually be the voice of reason, finding a place of reconciliation for Missy and her in-laws. It also helps develop further love for Cary as a character since he is the voice of wisdom to Abby to help create this reconciliation of sorts for her mother and her grandparents.
Even in the midst of burden and trauma, there is a gentleness to Hunter’s story-telling. Yes, her characters in Grit endure much to find their happily-ever-after, but the story is nuanced and easy. I’d have to say that she puts quite a bit of space in her story-telling. Why is that important you might ask? It would have been easy to place so many working components of a story into the romance and overwhelm your reader. Instead, what Hunter crafts for her readers in Grit is a story of finally acknowledging the need for love and its power in your life when you think your own strength and power is enough to get you through. Cary and Missy’s story is a quiet reminder that patience and kindness go a long way to finding the depth of love.
In love and romance,