Upon his arrival, Butternut Creek Christian Church's newly-minted minister is met by a welcome committee led by Miss Birdie and her friend Mercedes, a.k.a. “the Widows.” Their first order of business, to educate him on how things should be done, quickly gives way to a campaign to find him a wife.
When their matchmaking efforts fizzle, the Widows turn to another new bachelor. Amputee and Afghan vet Sam simply wants to be left alone– a desire that's as good as a red flag to the Widows! Soon they're scheming to pair him up with Willow, his beautiful physical therapist, a divorced mother of two who is afraid of commitment.
And here is Alison's review:
The most shocking moment in this book came when a character used books as traffic cones during a driving lesson. I wasn’t exactly aghast, but I was startled enough to check Google images to see whether this was a Thing People Do. It seems not, though I did find this ode on a Grecian cone.
If the shock of books as traffic cones offends you either as a book lover or a lover of twisty, complicated plots, you probably won’t like The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek. Plenty of people will, I think. The book has heart and humor, and most of the slice-of-small-town-life details ring true. It’s gentle, sweet, and heartwarming, and I kind of feel like a big ol’ meanie for not falling in love with it. I feel just the same way when somebody gives me a piece of Vera Bradley.
Part of the problem for me was the episodic nature of the book–several mini-plots and characters are introduced and wound up within the space of a few pages or chapters, and that’s just something I’ve never enjoyed much. Same for characters’ inner thoughts–I liked the main characters, but a few too many scenes consisted of one character puttering around the house or whatever, thinking about Stuff.
But we’re here for the romance, right? This book is nominated in the strong romantic elements category, and there’s definitely an ensemble cast of characters and plenty of non-romance story lines. But the love story is the spine of the book, and it’s a good one. Sam’s a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He’s drinking a lot, angry–I don’t recall the term PTSD appearing in the book, but certainly there are signs. He’s also an amputee, and Willow is his physical therapist. Early on, her two sons break Sam’s sliding door, and there’s a funny scene where he uses his impairment to needle her during an occupational therapy session:
…Obviously the kids hadn’t told her. Of course it had only happened the day before. Probably hadn’t gotten their courage up yet.
“Yes, the little scamps did. Took me forever to clean the glass off the floor. Talk about the chores of daily living. Using a broom and dustpan is difficult for a guy with one leg.”
She swallowed and attempted to mask her response. Cool on the outside but obviously upset inside….
“Funny thing.” He paused. “I gave them my phone number, to have their mother call me. No one did.” He shook his head. “Guess she doesn’t care. Guess she can’t control them.”
Sam’s journey back to connectedness is moving and worthwhile. I know it’s faster/easier than with any actual case of PTSD, but it’s difficult enough to make you care.
Should I say something about religion in the book, since it’s published as an inspirational? Basically, the religion is that we’re here to help one another. That may be too much or too little for some, but I think most readers will find it, well, inspirational. Or at least generically inoffensive.
Using books as traffic cones, however….