Woodrose Mountain by RaeAnne Thayne is the second in a series of contemporary romance novels set in a small, quiet community in Colorado. It tells the story of Evie Blanchard, who recently moved to Hope's Crossing to find peace after enduring a series of wrenching personal losses.
Six months after the move, Evie begins to discover that her new life won't be quite what she expected. Fortunately, she has her beadwork -- and her friends in the beading community -- to help her stay calm and focused.
I was drawn into this book from the start, largely because of its many references to beading. I read a lot of fiction, and this is the first time I've experienced that particular kind of familiarity with a character. (I should point out that the heroine of the first book in this series, Blackberry Summer, is also a beader; but I'm reading the books out of sequence.)
Even the very first paragraph of the first chapter of Woodrose Mountain gets you thinking about beads:
"On a warm summer evening, the homes and buildings of Hope's Crossing nestled among the trees like brightly colored stones in a drawer -- a brilliant lapis lazuli roof here, a carnelian-painted garage here, the warm topaz of the old hospital bricks."
Although these references aren't as obvious throughout the entire book, they do arise from time to time. And they're not just there for fun. They teach us a lot about Evie. She has a real need to restore order from chaos, the way you string seemingly random beads into a pattern. She also loves to bring beauty and happiness into the world, through her beadwork and by helping other people.
Of course there would be no story if Evie were perfect. She's not. She sometimes makes mistakes that hurt the people she cares about, if only temporarily. At times she even comes across as being selfish. She struggles to balance her own needs with those of the people around her.
Evie initially learned about Hope's Crossing through talks she had with an online beading friend. (You know, in a fictional world, she was probably over in our forum, chatting about FireLine and such, and developed some special friendships.) One friend owned a bead shop in Hope's Crossing and encouraged Evie to come work there for a while. She even hooked Evie up with a cute apartment upstairs from the shop.
It's a big change for Evie, who until now has worked hard at her career as a physical therapist. But it's was a perfect opportunity to wind down and relax. Then comes trouble. Her beading friend's son, Brodie, pressures Evie to offer physical therapy services to his daughter who was severely injured in a car accident.
Not only does Evie not want to jump back into the stressful world of physical therapy, but she despises this guy for his arrogance and his all-business attitude. She has even faced off with him at city council meetings over his development proposals in town.
Needless to say, Evie does end up getting more involved than she wishes. The result is an engaging adventure that takes us around Hope's Crossing (including several familiar stops at the bead store), onto hiking trails in the surrounding mountains, to a weekend art fair, and finally to a court house -- and not for a wedding.
As both a beader and a book lover, I really enjoyed Woodrose Mountain. The writing pulls you into the minds of the characters so that you really feel their struggles, with just enough suspense to keep you guessing at how things will resolve. The story is also a nice reminder about the value of friendships, even those we make online.
To learn more about the Hope's Crossing series, visit the author's website.