3 out of 5 stars
MY HEART BELONGS IN CASTLE GATE, UTAH, was a sweet book with genuine characters. Though the pacing was a little slow for my liking, overall, the story kept me interested.
Schoolteacher, Leanna McKee is trying to find her purpose. Widowed, and feeling guilty she wasn’t the wife she should have been, Leanna is convinced she needs to leave the town of Castle Gate if she hopes to have a fresh start in life. But, when asked to help a local Greek family-by walking their children to and from school-Leanna agrees, and is quickly smitten by the Pappas family. Maria and Teddy are adorable children, and their Uncle Alex is sweet, and kind, and quite handsome. Alex’s father and mother are very traditional and set in their way, but gracious to her nonetheless. Though Leanna feels an immediate attraction for Alex, he is Greek, and she is not.
Alex Pappas is a hardworking man who tries to stay positive, and does all he can for his family. Also widowed, he feels he has a unique understanding about the guilt and pain Leanna McKee feels over the loss of her husband. When he asks her to oversee his niece and nephew, he looks forward to their short conversations and makes sure their paths cross often. Soon, he is inviting her to his family restaurant, merely as a thank you for all she is doing. But, his family sees that his interest in Leanna runs deep. Knowing that social lines exist between Greeks and Americans, his family discourage him from perusing Leanna. But his heart cannot be so easily swayed.
The township of Castle Gate is unhappy with the influx of Greek immigrants living in their city, taking their jobs. Tension is thick. Threats are made. Accidents happen. Leanna fears what will happen to Alex or his family if they pursue a relationship. When direct threats are made, she decides to leave Castle Gate, even if she’s leaving her heart behind.
MY HEART BELONGS IN CASTLE GATE, UTAH, was enjoyable to read, but at times I found the constant inner voice of Leanna and Alex a little redundant. We know early on how they feel and what they struggle with, but their inner conflict is rehashed several times throughout the book. I think the parts I found most distracting, was when Leanna lamented her dead husband, his vices, and the way she treated him. I couldn’t tell if it was self-loathing that plagued her, or if she really had been that belligerent to him. During these segments, I found myself straddling the fence regarding my feelings for Leanna. It almost made her feel unlikable. But Alex, was easy to like and root for. You saw the struggle he had to be respectful of his parents and their traditions, but also wanting to be his own man.
Overall, an enjoyable book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.