24621312What a pleasure to expect one thing, and get something better. Lydia Rowan’s Where You Least Expect (Thornehill Springs Book 1) was one such surprise. Looking at the cover, you expect “typical” boy meets girl, blah blah blah, they both live happily ever after. I mean, come on. The whole naked six-pack thing on the cover pretty much sets the expectations.

This was more than that – surprisingly more. It is about the damage family can do to you. How their disrespect and bullying can strip down the soul, leading you to true self-hatred. How learning to stand up and say “no more” can be the hardest thing in the world to do. And how wonderful it feels to finally be able to stand up and say Enough! It takes Verna a while to stand up to her abusive father and doormat mother, but when she does, it is realistic and empowering. It isn’t immediate, and she has fallbacks, but with help from Joe, she begins the process. Of course Joe has his own issues, issues that cause him to hurt Verna viciously, but he still starts her on her way to gathering up her life and making it her own. Of course she forgives him (much too quickly to my mind, but this is a romance so, sigh, I suppose it is to be expected.)

You get the idea that Verna is African American and Joe white, but that is never addressed except for the very instance that caused Joe to hurt Verna so badly. Being a curvy woman, and tall as well, is hard on Verna’s self-esteem, but it isn’t really overdone as it is with so many other books that encourage the idea of “curvy is good”. I am not saying curvy is bad, just that some authors want to bash you over the head with it, where Rowan touches on it as a part of the overall psychological abuse Verna has suffered all through her life.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the book. It isn’t War and Peace but it pleased me.