"Caught it the Middle" by Regina Jennings was published by Bethany House on April 1, 2014. It is the third book in the "Ladies of Caldwell County" series, with the first being "Sixteen Acres and a Bride", and the second being "Love in the Balance". I read "Sixteen Acres and a Bride", and thoroughly enjoyed it, and own the second in the series but have yet to read it. Both the first and the third would be good as stand-alones, although there are small details that tie the stories together and add additional background information.
Anne Tillerton is a widow of an abusive husband. She ditched dresses and the society that turned their faces away in her distress to become a buffalo hunter with a group of Indians and cowboys. On her way into town to fetch a new cook for the group, the cook skips town and leaves Anne her son Sammy. Anne is dumbfounded as to what to do, but ends up turning to Nick Lovelace, her friend Molly's (from "Love in the Balance") brother that she became reacquainted with on the train into town.
Nickolas Lovelace knows that his reputation as railroad businessman running for office will be damaged if he helps his sister's friend out, but how can he resist when she obviously has no idea what to do with a baby?
This story has several similarities to "Fair Play" by Deeanne Gist, which releases May 6: woman of unusual occupation teams up with high-faultin' man to save abandoned baby. For me, it was somewhat difficult to grow attached to the characters, because I felt as if I had already been through their stories. Granted, "Fair Play" isn't even out yet, so it's really 'not fair' for me to make this point.
Anne and Sammy were still charming to me, but I did not care for Nick. The reason that Anne and Sammy tugged on my heartstrings was because of their backgrounds and experiences in life (obviously there's less of that for Sammy, because he's a baby, but he still had a hard life). I understood why they reacted as they did, whether or not I agreed with it. As for Nick, I just did not care for him. He seemed too gullible and foolish, and rash on making decisions. The setting was quaint, but nothing that would alone draw me into the book. It was kind of TV-ish, if you know what I mean. It seemed just like I called it: a setting, not a way of life, an interesting culture, or anything intriguing; it was just a setting waiting for the director to change it for the next scene. The plot would have been better if characters such as Nick and several secondary characters had been stronger. The resolution came too quickly and neatly for my taste; again, it was if it was on TV.
Thank you to Bethany House publishers for letting me read and review this book. I would recommend it because it was a sweet story, and would make for a quick read on a summer day.