Today I’m reviewing the third novel in Jennifer Rodewald’s “Big Prairie” series, When I’m With You. I would highly recommend this small-town series to fans of Courtney Walsh, Melissa Tagg, and Denise Hunter. Each story can be read as a standalone, but the setting and side characters are enhanced with an understanding of the series in order.
He wants what he deserves, and this time he won’t walk away without it. Meeting Daisy Hopewell shouldn’t change a thing.
Lane Carson is sick of living like a wandering homeless man. When he receives a text message from a woman claiming to be his brother’s fiancée, nothing short of meeting her will convince him his reclusive older brother has worked up the courage to talk to a woman, let alone propose. And since he’s returning to Big Prairie, he’s determined to claim the inheritance that should have been his. As long as no one expects him to live up to his brother’s impossible standards.
Daisy Hopewell has found refuge in Big Prairie working as a hired hand at the Carson Ranch—an opportunity to prove that her worth goes much deeper than being a rich man’s daughter. Her haven is shaken, however, when the boss’s brother shows up. Lane Carson is nothing like his reserved, serious brother. And Daisy knows from experience that when you add massive flirt to good-looking, the result is heartbreak.
Meeting Daisy sidetracks Lane’s plans, especially when she turns out to be irritatingly immune to his charm. But after being caught with her in a devastating flood, Lane suddenly finds himself reevaluating his approach to everything. Daisy’s stubborn determination and unflappable kindness feed his burgeoning desire to be more than a reckless, selfish man, but the last thing Lane needs is to be deemed unworthy by yet another person in his world.
Daisy is discovering a depth to Lane she hadn’t expected, and with Daisy, Lane finds himself believing he could be a better man. But by the time he figures that out, it might be too late, because she’s determined never to play the fool again.
Can Lane and Daisy release the resentment they cling to from the disappointments of their pasts and step toward the possibility of being different—better—together?
Jennifer Rodewald’s stories are always woven with truth. When I’m With You delivers on that front, with a realistic romance and a prodigal’s return. Like Rodewald did with the second novel in this series, this third one employs a fantastic technique with a slightly overlapping timeline, layering the story and offering a new perspective on some events.
First and foremost, this is a story of transformation. Of God’s ability to redeem flaws and His pursuit His children. This is seen through Lane’s homecoming, though tinged with bitterness at first, and with Daisy’s intentional steps toward emotional healing.
The romance is sweet and fun, as I hoped it would be! Lane is quite the flirt by all appearances, but Daisy sees through his exterior of bravado and bitterness to the true heart underneath that’s longing for home. Through their ups and downs, dramatic events, and one HILARIOUS chicken rescue, their relationship unfolds in a natural way — with honest doubts and insecurity, sparkling attraction, and friendship.
One of the things that intrigues me most about this story is the contrast between brothers Lance and Lane. They illustrate the contrast in people, how we can be different, struggle to understand each other, yet still find a closeness. They are a great example of the baggage and beliefs we project onto relationships and the beauty God can forge in restoration.
Thank you to the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.