I downloaded several novels to my iPhone before leaving for our Alaskan cruise in June. One I’d been looking forward to reading was Winter’s End by Ruth Logan Herne. I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy Ruth’s posts on the multi-author blog, Seekerville. She has a unique sassy voice that always makes me grin.
I admit to hoping her debut novel, Winter’s End, would showcase that voice, but it doesn’t. It took me a bit to get over my disappointment that this was a serious romance novel, not light, but once I did, I found the story interesting and satisfying.
Kayla Doherty is a hospice nurse who is looking forward to completing her contract in the North Country and moving south to warmer climes…moving away from memories of her childhood that need forgetting, or at least burying. She has one last contract to fulfill before she can leave, that of easing Marc DeHollander’s father’s last days on earth.
Marc is having a hard time accepting his father’s impending death, which means the nurse’s intervention in their lives is unwelcome and awkward:
“My cell phone’s on.” Marc patted his side clip. “Call if you need anything.”
“I will,” Pete promised. “Sorry about that business last night.”
Marc frowned. “You remember that?” At his father’s look of surprise, he added, “You were pretty confused, Dad.”
“I’m not dead yet,” the older man retorted.
“But definitely incapacitated,” Kayla inserted. She kept her tone helpful and amused.
Pete DeHollander joined the game with a look Kayla’s way. “Under the weather.”
“Down, but not out.”
“Rounding third and heading for home.”
“And the crowd goes wild.” Kayla raised her arms and widened her smile.
Marc stood, glowering. “I’m glad you two find this so–” Face tight, he drew a sharp breath, his jaw rigid. “Whatever. Some of us have work to do.”
He strode out, his footfall decisive against the wide-planked floor.
Kayla watched him go with regret. She’d hoped a little humor might lighten him up, but no. She’d only angered him. Obviously the tact and diplomacy she’d been praying for needed fine-tuning.
Fine tuning? Her conscience probed. How about major structural repairs? Run after him, Doherty. Maybe the guy’s got a paper cut. You can apply a salt-water rinse followed by a splash of fresh lemon. Really make his day.
Marc would also like to not be falling for her. She’s not his kind of girl. She wears cute shoes instead of practical ones in the dead of winter. And she’s hiding secrets. Secrets that seem to come from Marc’s own past.
Ultimately, Ruth’s humor does come through in the story, even in the midst of tragic circumstances. Her personal experience dealing with hospice for her own mother is evident in her command of the story details, leaving her imagination free to populate the novel with a unique cast of characters.
Ruth Logan Herne finds simple gifts in the everyday blessings of smudge-faced small children, bright flowers, fresh baked goods, good friends, family, puppies and higher education. She believes a good woman should never fear dirt, snakes or spiders, all of which like to infest her aged farmhouse, necessitating a good pair of tongs for extracting the snakes, a flat-bottomed shoe for the spiders and the dirt…
Simply put, she’s learned that some things aren’t worth fretting about! If you laugh in the face of dust and loved to talk about God, men, romance, great shoes and wonderful food, you’ll probably enjoy Winter’s End.