Friday, June 08, 2007

Courting Trouble

Courting Trouble by DeeAnne Gist, 2007.

Esther Spreckelmeyer is known round town for three things: wearing crazy, elaborate hats, riding her bicycle and unseemly showing her ankles, and being an old maid or spinster. Essie, as her friends call her, is hoping to change all that. At least the old maid part. You see, Essie is thirty years old. She's giving up on God ever bringing the groom to her...and has decided that if she wants to walk down the aisle, she'll have to go out searching for a groom herself. When Plan A fails--preparing a delectable picnic basket for the box social auction--then it's on to Plan B. She gets out a pen and some paper. She lists every possible eligible man in town. She lists their points of merits and drawbacks. Still unable to decide, she decides to go with a more random selection process. Closing her eyes, she twirls her finger and points.

The first candidate? Mr. Crook. Mr. Hamilton Crook. A widower with a young baby girl, Mae. He runs one of the stores in town. So with her future groom all selected, she does what she must. She makes sure Mr. Crook notices her. She volunteers to be his help-mate at the store. Her help is unwanted, at least at first, but weeks later...Hamilton is beginning to appreciate her strengths and forgive her weakness. He still thinks her odd. He still thinks her hats are ugly. He still thinks she's bossy. But he can't deny what's right in front of his eyes: his store IS transformed. He is getting more business. And she is one great salesman. Incredible really. She could sell almost anything. But just when he is on the verge of speaking to her father, the unexpected happens...he's waiting to meet with her father, the town's judge, when he chances to see a slip of paper in a book. What he sees changes everything.

Essie is mortified to discover that Hamilton knows her secret. That he's seen the piece of paper listing his merits and drawbacks. Mortified. How can she ever face him again? But she needn't worry too much. Hamilton makes a hasty disappearance a day later only to return with a new wife.

But Hamilton isn't the only bachelor in town. And taking Hamilton's parting words to heart--that a man likes to do the chasing--she begins to look elsewhere. The big problem Essie faces is that her impulsive, trusting, naive heart sees what it wants to see. There is danger and temptation lurking around the corner...and if she isn't careful...she could get hurt.

This novel spans a year, a year where Essie learns some important life lessons...the most important being that trusting God to provide what you need may just be best after all.