Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve been drawn to L.B. Dunbar with her sexy silver fox series. As a more mature female reader, I’m drawn to hunky romance heroes who might be someone in my age group. I’ll tell you that if I ever met one of these guys I would probably swoon. When I heard that Dunbar joined Penny Reid’s SmartyPants Romance universe, I was ecstatic. What would she bring to Green Valley? Would she craft a silver fox for this community? Dunbar did not disappoint with her newest story, Love in Due Time. Not only did she offer us a sexy silver fox with a penchant for riding motorcycles and talking dirty, she also broke the mold with her heroine, a type that I have yet to see in contemporary romance. Even more, through Dunbar’s story, she challenges readers to open our minds to people with different lives and beliefs from our own.
If you haven’t read Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers books, and you don’t have an understanding of Green Valley, Tennessee, then you might not understand the significance of Love in Due Time. Green Valley is the epitome of southern Christian living. People look southern, talk southern, and act southern. Some of them judge people within their own community who are different. If it doesn’t fit the Green Valley type, then it doesn’t belong.
Enter Naomi, Dunbar’s heroine. She is one of the local librarians in Green Valley. She didn’t grow up there, but she arrived in Green Valley in her late teens, leaving behind a life of pain. Growing up in a strict religious household made her feel stifled. When tragedy strikes her life, and her parents blame her choices for the tragedy, she can no longer ascribe to her parents’ religion. Instead, she searches for something to believe in and becomes a Wiccan where she finally feels a sense of peace in its beliefs. Unfortunately, living in a traditionally Christian community makes it difficult for her to “fit in.” Instead, she’s seen as the town witch, leaving her planted on the outside of popular society. She’s seen as odd, as different by those in the community who fail to understand her.
Through Dunbar’s characterization of Naomi, you can’t help but be challenged. What do you believe? Would you readily accept someone with a belief system different from your own? Are you able to “see” and accept the true essence of that person, or do you prejudge them because they are simply different from you? These questions run through your mind as Naomi’s romance plays out on the page. I loved Naomi because, while she is judged, she shows compassion for people. This is evidenced in her favoritism for the children of her library who are different. She pours wisdom into them wrought through her own experiences. Her compassion and kindness never falter, even when she’s taunted and assaulted. Dunbar uses Naomi to challenge our own assumptions, and you can’t help but love the depth of Naomi’s characterization without ever considering her chemistry with Nathan.
On the night of her family tragedy, Naomi meets a swarthy young man in a bar. They spend an impassioned night together with the promise of a phone call. When the phone call never happens, and Naomi’s family endures tragedy, Naomi moves forward with her life, even though her passion grows dormant. One night, while at the local Piggly Wiggly, Naomi encounters Nathan. Eighteen years after they last saw each other, Nathan and Naomi reconnect, albeit Nathan doesn’t quite see the Naomi of the past. After seeing each other for the first time, Nathan and Naomi happen upon each other again. It’s then that Nathan realizes the woman who has never left his thoughts since their one night together is the woman he engaged at the Piggly Wiggly. Their chemistry still pulls them together, and they begin a journey of romance and learning their older selves. Unfortunately, a story twist in this journey seeks to derail their future.
Like Naomi, Nathan struggles against a different kind of community. The Iron Wraiths, the MC group of Green Valley, want Nathan to join their ranks He fled them in the past, and they want his present and future. Unfortunately, Nathan has no interest in them as he’s a father of two, and he’s more interested in developing a future with Naomi. At first, I was leery of Nathan. When he meets Naomi in the Piggly Wiggly, I wanted him to recognize her immediately and fall to his knees for her. It’s clear her pain over his leaving and never contacting her changed a part of her. I wanted him to reconcile that. Dunbar is wise though. She lets us feel Naomi’s pain instead. Her pain over the past creates the tension of their reconnection, and it’s important that Nathan works to court Naomi because it offers a depth of healing for Naomi. Nathan’s purpose in Love in Due Time is offering love and acceptance to Naomi as a way to allow her to grow. After his departure in her life, Naomi took the requisite steps to live, but her life is small. It’s protected because she’s endured the judgment of others. Through loving her, Nathan makes Naomi’s life bigger, and it’s my favorite part of this story.
This book also holds truths about forgiveness and family dynamics. But above anything else, Love in Due Time reminds us that difference doesn’t mean bad; it simply means different, and acceptance is an opportunity to pour love into someone else. Nathan and Naomi’s romance is powerful. In fact, their epilogue is probably one of my favorites. That moment is spiritual and sensual wrapped up together. Dunbar’s book is a must read. It is more than a romance; it’s a message of acceptance and belief in what makes us human: connection. As usual, L.B. Dunbar offers us this message brilliantly.
In love and romance,