Delphi Brent has decided that she's going to spend the summer between one research job and another at the ranch where her family spent so many delightful summers when she was younger. Her parents are not pleased about this plan and finally admit to Delphi that the reason they don't think she should go, which they have kept from her for nine years is that the hit and run accident that almost killed her nine years ago was in fact caused by one of the sons of the wonderful family friends who own the ranch. This same accident ended up claiming the life of the youngest son and ever since then, the families have kept in minimal contact through the occasional Christmas card and the like. But Delphi is determined to go back and exorcise the demons this revelation brings, needing to know which of the sons it was who hit her and sped away. When she arrives back in Colorado, she again meets the warm and wonderful Laughlins. But living amongst them again, she sees the toll the past nine years has taken on them too as she wonders if she can bring up the accident and find out what she needs to know. And along the way, without intending to, she falls in love, making her question the importance of knowing the truth, especially as it could derail this fledgling love forever.
Delphi as a character is good fun. She is quick and witty and her sparring with both Tam Laughlin and Noreen, Bobby Laughlin's shrewish fiance, provides great entertainment. The Laughlin family seem warm and loving and their concern for each other is palpable through the story. I liked all of the characters and found the tension and circling between Delphi and Tam to be believable and reasonable. The romance was gentle and organic. This is really a sweet novel.
But there is one glaring plot point problem that I just can't get past. When the accident that almost killed Delphi occurred nine years prior, her whole family was staying with the Laughlins like they did every summer. So how on earth did they never know about the accident? She was badly enough injured that she had to be stabilized before being flown back to a hospital closer to her parents' home in Pennsylvania and their good friends never noticed? I know the idea was that the Laughlins were preoccupied with the coma that Artie was in but I can't imagine that they didn't notice the young daughter of their house guests was also in the hospital in terrible condition. The only way I can even begin to reconcile this is by telling myself that the Brents had already left the Laughlins to head home when the accident happened. But again, the accident happened in a small Colorado town close to their ranch (otherwise how would it involve their boys?) and no one ever mentioned it to them? No one ever said, "Hey, how was that girl who got hit? The one that stays with you every summer?" And I'm back at my original position, unable to suspend my disbelief for this one nagging part. The part upon which so much of the plot and tension relies. It was made worse when, in the present, a very tangential character needs emergency medical care and one of the EMTs who comes with the ambulance is his cousin, reinforcing the tightly knit, small town interconnectedness of the place. Knock me right up against that brick wall again.
I know other reviewers didn't suffer my own inability to get over this stumbling block so don't take my word for it. And really, maybe I've got it wrong and I missed a perfectly good explanation. Could happen. Readers who enjoy sweet, snappy romances will indeed like this one even if they've figured out the driver of the car long before Delphi.
Thanks to the author and Renee at Stimulating Conversation for sending me a review copy of this book.