If there's one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it's a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. But as she heads to Rainbow's End Resort, a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash in front of her. When TJ Benjamin's wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He's spent the past year wandering the country on a motorcycle, trying not to think about his future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God's sense of humor. Can this woman without a future and this man running from his past find romance in the present? Or are they too tied to the way life used to be?
It only takes one fateful moment for Gillian Hodge's whole world to change forever. In that one instance, she is struck down in the street by a motorcyclist, the accident crushing her right hand and effectively ending her career as a concert pianist. After some intensive physical rehabilitation, Gillian is able to regain most of her mobility in that hand, but she soon sees it will never be quite enough to return to the concert stage. So, now what? Needing some time to mentally regroup and reassess her life's direction, Gillian decides to spend some time at her friend's Rainbow's End Resort in Dupree, Texas. And wouldn't you know, just as she's trying to get her mind right again, she witnesses yet another motorcycle crash go down right in front of her! What are the odds?!
The injured cyclist ends up being former preacher / history teacher TJ Benjamin. Not long ago, TJ's wife passed away and now he's on a cross-country trip meant to honor her memory and help him work through his grief. TJ is quick to say he's not injured from the crash, but the bike takes enough damage to require him to stick around Dupree for a few days while repairs are made. But as you might expect, within those few days TJ gets to know the townspeople, and especially Gillian, and finds himself looking for a reason to stick around a little longer.
I was thinking the environment of this story could be fun, what with people living on a campground resort area within the American West, and while that element DID make for a nice backdrop, the plot and character developments fell flat for me. I found the romance very bland and run-of-the-mill. Some of the particulars of the situations these characters get into struck me as slightly unrealistic and many of the characters themselves came off as too goody-goody to be much fun to read about... and dare I say, a wee bit judgmental of those not just like them.
The plot is pretty cliche-laden, complete with a pretty meh love triangle. To be honest, for a romance I didn't feel much heat between anyone. The dialogue sounded too scripted to get the swoons outta me. I didn't feel like Gillian's character or backstory was developed enough for me to understand why these people were so taken with her. Her pianist past is mostly only mentioned in brief passing and there's not much to her or her story in the present that really left me awestruck, there's not even noticeable humor or spunk to her personality. She's just very... cardboard-like. But of course her leading men immediately see her as super-special and "the most amazing woman I've ever met in my life..." as one goes so far to say. One guy even calls her Wonder Woman when she paints a whole room by herself. Not even kidding, that's all she has to do to get this moniker. No saving anyone from drowning or pulling someone from a burning building. Nope. Just the ability to paint four walls a solid color and she gets Wonder Woman. Must be slim pickins in Dupree.
I found myself more interested in the story of TJ's deceased wife. Seemed like there was a cool lady there -- artistic, adventurous, full of life. TJ's inner thoughts reveal how he never met anyone more beautiful than her, how she could so easily pull him out of his shell and get him to try new things. I wanted to know that story! But then cardboard Gillian comes in, sees a picture of the deceased wife and deems her "not beautiful by any standard". M'kay, well after that I was officially done caring about the coupling of Gillian and TJ.
Note To Readers: This is a Christian romance where the religious elements are rather strong and noticeably present (though not oppressively so). Even the resort in the story is Christian themed. Just a heads up for those who don't want to be surprised by the religious aspect if that's not what they're looking for. Also, this is the third and final book of Cabot's Texas Crossroads series. I have not read the first two books but had no trouble following the story, so I would say this is perfectly fine as a standalone read.
FTC Disclaimer: Revell / Baker Publishing Group kindly provided me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.