Courting Emma is the third book in Ms. MacLaren’s Little Hickman Creek Series. I didn’t read the other two, but if they are anything like this one, I certainly want to.

The back cover blurb says:

Twenty-eight-year-old Emma Browning has experienced a good deal of life at her young age. Proprietor of Emma’s Boardinghouse, she is “mother” to an array of beefy, unkempt, often rowdy characters. Though many men would like to get to know the steely, hard-edged, yet surprisingly lovely proprietor, none has truly succeeded. That is, not until the town’s new pastor, Jonathan Atkins, takes up residence in the boardinghouse, affecting not only her with his devout faith and strong convictions, but her clientèle as well. Emma clings desperately to her stubborn ways, refusing to acknowledge God’s love until all of Little Hickman witnesses a miracle — the conversion of her abusive and alcoholic father, Ezra! Only then will Emma begin to experience God’s transforming power at work.

This blurb doesn’t do justice to the depth of emotion in this book. I don’t normally cry while reading a novel. Movies, yeah, but it takes a lot in a book to make me cry.

Well, I did toward the end of this one!

Also, this blurb doesn’t tell you about the romance in the book and how wonderful the characters are portrayed. Emma and Jon are real people with real problems and pasts that are not so clean and shiny. They share a common, abusive past, but where Jon let God open his heart and learned how to forgive even if it was after his father’s death, Emma stayed bitter and angry at her father, who, in her mind (and the mind of some townspeople) is unworthy of any kind of gentle feeling or compassion. She only deals with him when she has to and refuses to let anyone help her, believing that her father is her problem.

Jonathan, who she knew as a child, took a different path and ends up helping Emma with her father, regardless of her bitterness and out right anger at the idea of a loving God. Jon’s example and refusal to back off from his beliefs eventually soften her heart and allows her to see God’s love and her own worthiness.

An excellent book and one I would recommend to anyone interested in reading a wholesome inspirational that doesn’t paint life as always rosy and sweet. Real people dealing with real problems and finding God through it all. Wonderful!