Random House AU
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Cora values stability more than anything. Abandoned, raised in multiple foster homes and then widowed in her twenties, the house she lives in on a parcel of land owned by her late husband’s family is precious to her. Cora gets by financially by doing anything she can. She’s gifted with a loom and knitting needles, she makes candles and cans food. She sells her creations at markets locally and carefully nurtures her animals. She can’t afford pets, so the animals she keeps must contribute, such as the sheep.
Mac Wildwood is Cora’s late husband’s cousin. As teenagers, the three of them were inseparable but Mac has been gone a long time. Cora harbours deep feelings for Mac – some are resentment that he was away so long, including for Logan’s funeral but most of her feelings are far more complicated than that. Now Mac is back in Cypress Hollow and although his mother and aunt are delighted to have him returned, Cora is skeptical. Mac has never been able to lie to her and she suspects he’s up to something. However even she is surprised when she realises that Mac could be the very person that ends up threatening the security she gets from her home and land.
Mac hasn’t been able to come back to Cypress Hollow because of his feelings for Cora. He’s loved her as long as he can remember but out of respect to his cousin and later an inability to face his own feelings of guilt, he’s kept away. But now he has a reason to be here, a business proposition that he’s putting together on behalf of his boss for the owners of the land. Mac thinks that it might be best for everyone but he has forgotten just how strong and stubborn Cora is…and what it’s like to be around her.
Cora’s Heart is another novel set in Cypress Hollow. I haven’t read the previous ones but they’re quite loosely linked and this one easily stands alone. Cora has had a very difficult life, especially in her childhood and teen years. Stability was a foreign thing to her until she found someone who could love her like she was their own, who taught her to cook and knit and who taught her that she could do things and be worthy. Cora, Mac and Logan quickly became friends and despite the fact that it was Mac Cora had feelings for, it was Logan she ended up marrying. Theirs wasn’t always a good marriage but they were fiercely loyal to each other. I actually really liked the way Herron portrayed Cora and Logan’s marriage. Logan is long dead when this book begins but later on, through other people, you find out that even though he wasn’t the best husband for Cora, being far too fickle with money and prone to gambling, he really did do his utmost best to protect her from something that he knew would have devastated her. In putting Cora first, Logan sacrificed something himself and even though he was fickle and selfish, that one act made him likable as well. You could see why Cora had stuck with him. She loved him, but she wasn’t in love with him. Theirs wasn’t a grand passion or never-ending love. It was something that was comfortable, they respected each other and liked each other and they made a go of it. But Logan’s tragic death set Cora free in a way, because Logan would’ve eventually stripped her of the security of the house by gambling it away.
Both Mac and Cora had to deal with a lot of guilt about the feelings they’d had for each other both in the past and in the present. Mac and Logan had been very close, like brothers really. Cora also harboured a lot of resentment toward Mac for not returning when Logan died but I did feel that even though it wasn’t an “excuse” as such, Mac did have a pretty good reason personally for the fact that he wasn’t there. This book touched on the lure of gambling and how it can destroy whole families and how future generations can be susceptible even when they’ve seen previous family members become caught in the web. It was because of that fact that I was able to sympathise with what happened to Mac which ended up being the reason he wasn’t there. Cora also has to overcome the fact that it seems like Mac wants to take her home away. Stability is absolutely crucial to her, she cannot live with the uncertainty of possibly having no home and it seemed a bit insensitive that Mac and a couple of others really couldn’t understand how passionate she was about this. You’d think that they’d know how important it was to her.
Cora’s Heart was an enjoyable story with a sweet side due to the small town setting, the knitting that is anchored in the story and the vulnerability of Cora as a main character. I did think that there was something a little lacking in the chemistry between Cora and Mac – perhaps there were just one too many misunderstandings between them.
Book #52 of 2013