Courting Miss Hattie is the second book by Pamela Morsi I read, and they're now both favorites and keepers. I loved Simple Jess, and this one is just as wonderful.The news spread like brush fire through the whole county when widower Ancil Drayton announced his intention to start courting Miss Hattie Colfax. She was certainly spirited and delightfully sweet natured, and she'd managed to run her family farm almost single-handedly. But wasn't a twenty-nine-year-old lady farmer too old to catch a husband?
An Irresistable Suitor.
All his life handsome, black-haired Reed Tyler had worked Miss Hattie's farm--and dreamed of one day settling down on his own piece of land with the pretty young woman he'd sworn to marry. Hattie was someone he could tell his hopes and troubles to--someone he looked on as a sister. So he thought, until the idea of Ancil Drayton calling on her made him seethe. Until the night a brotherly peck became a scorching kiss... and Reed knew nothing would bank the blaze--and that his best friend was the only woman he would ever love.
In Courting Miss Hattie, Morsi once again sets her story in an Arkansas farming community and captures both time and place. She tells the story of Miss Hattie, a 29-year-old spinster who has never been courted, until now. In Miss Hattie, Morsi again works with a character that is viewed as different by her community. She is respected, as an excellent farmer who owns her own land, is independent and knowledgeable and also happens to be an excellent housekeeper and cook. But Hattie is a woman, and as a woman in a community where girls marry at the tender age of seventeen, she's considered an old spinster and treated as such. The fact that Hattie's looks are lacking count heavily against her -- behind her back her nickname is "Horseface Hattie."
When local farmer and widower and father to a slew of children, Ancyl Drayton decides to come calling, you can feel both Hattie's pain and her hope for a future she thought she would never have -- a husband and children. I loved Miss Hattie. She is the perfect spinster/plain Jane type of protagonist that some of us love to read about in a book. Hattie isn't exactly your missish spinster, although she is definitely naive and has her moments. She is an independent woman who is direct and plain speaking and a tough and hard-working farmer. As a woman she is vulnerable, passionate and all heart. There is a joy in Hattie that makes her beautiful.
Reed Tyler? I could have eaten him up with a spoon. What a great character he turned out to be. He is younger than Miss Hattie, but he is a real man. Reed began working at the Colfax farm when he was a 14-year-old boy. After Hattie's parents died and left her the farm, Reed stayed to help her and became a sharecropper using Colfax land. Reed and Hattie are close friends and partners. His dream is to save his money to buy the Colfax farm from Hattie so he can settle down with his young wife once he marries. That is...until Ancyl begins courting Hattie.
Courting Miss Hattie is a wonderful friends to lovers romance. In a way, I hate to put it that way because it simplifies this story and it is more than that. The community at large, and Hattie herself, both see Ancyl's courting as a godsend and a favor to her -- all except Reed. He doesn't think Ancyl is good enough for her, as a man or as a farmer. I loved him for that. Reed begins to see Hattie as a woman and to seethe. Slowly, Ms. Morsi develops the story, and the sexual tension and romance between Hattie and Reed builds. And a passionate, joyful romance it is!
I have many favorite scenes in this book. The scene where Reed explains to Hattie that there are three different types of kisses: pecks, peaches and malvalvas, and Miss Hattie comes to love her "peaches," is a favorite. But, I think their overall joy and laughter in the midst of the discovery of their passion and love is what makes this romance stand out for me.
This review would be incomplete if I didn't mention a secondary romance that impacts Hattie and Reed's relationship. Morsi doesn't leave this romance behind in passion or in characterization; she takes her time with both. As in Simple Jess, she again develops a community that is vital and their down-to-earth, everyday interactions add depth to this story. The secondary characters are very much a part of Courting Miss Hattie and complete this romance.
This is another Morsi book I highly recommend for those who want to read a different type of historical romance in an American setting. In Courting Miss Hattie you’ll find a beautifully written, well-developed, passionate romance, with a friends to lovers theme, and an unforgettable secondary, lively cast of characters that has more to offer than your every day fare. This is definitely a keeper.
For other Morsi reviews, check out:
Courting Miss Hattie at Leslie's Psyche
Wild Oats at The Misadventures of Super Librarian
Genre: Historical Romance - American
Release Date: August 26, 2009 - Kindle Edition
Visit Pamela Morsi here.
KMont's 2010 Year of the Historical Challenge - April Review