Publisher: Berkley Jove
Where did you get the book: Purchased
Release date: Out now
The last thing widow Althea Winsloe wanted to do was remarry. Unfortunately, her meddlesome mountain neighbors had other plans. So, one autumn night they banded together and gave Althea a shocking ultimatum: She was to find herself a husband by Christmas…or the town would do it for her!
Althea knew she had her choice of any single man in Marrying Stone, Arkansas. Yet the only one she felt truly comfortable with was Simple Jess. Sweet, gentle, Jess wasn’t as smart as your average man. But his tender manner stirred Althea’s heart in ways she had never dreamed possible.
It would take a miracle to find a husband in Marrying Stone. But sometimes miracles are right under your nose …
*blurb taken from author’s official website*
Review contains some minor spoilers.
I’ve seen Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi mentioned quite a few times. It features a hero that has a mental disability where he was deprived of oxygen at birth when the cord was wrapped around his neck. I’ve always wanted to read this because whenever I saw it mentioned, it was featured with a good review. I’ve also not read a romance where the hero had a disability that affected his intellect to that extent. When I saw it mentioned again over at DA on a post recommending books with disability, I was happy to see it had finally been made available as an ebook on the Kindle store.
Simple Jess was such an enjoyable read, and I loved that Jesse’s disability wasn’t glossed over, but it also didn’t define who he was. The story is based around Althea Winsloe, a young widow with a three year old son, who is left on the farm to run by herself. Althea didn’t have a happy marriage as she didn’t particularly like her husband very much, but nor did she hate him. What she loved with all her heart is the son they created, baby Paisley. Althea does not get along with her mother-in law, Beulah, who nags Althea constantly about getting married again to another member of the Winsloe family, Tom, Beulah’s very old brother. Althea has sworn that she would never get married again due to the pain she suffered as a child when her father left her alone in this town whilst he went off and started a new life with his new wife. Althea doesn’t want baby Paisley to suffer what she went through.
But with both sides of her family nagging to get married, Althea is trapped during a silly dance game that turns mean spirited, and forces Althea to choose between two men to get married, Eben and Oather. Forced to choose between these two men that she has no feelings for, there’s one man that Althea has come to depend on for his honesty, help, and friendship — and that’s Jesse.
Jesse has been working on Althea’s farm in exchange for the prized hunting dogs. Jesse is known as Simple Jesse amongst the mountain folk, and whilst he’s very slow at learning, talking to crowds, trying to remember orders, and slow to comprehend things, he’s not dumb. Once Jesse learns something, he never forgets. He’s strong, capable and a very good hunter. Jesse is instantly drawn to Althea, and Althea to him.
This was such a sweet romance that I grew to love Jesse because of his sweet nature. Jesse and Althea understand one another, and Jesse comes out with some wisdom that shows he’s no dummy. Althea doesn’t treat Jesse as if he’s simple, and she starts to rely on him – and even baby Paisley starts to like Jesse. I did find Paisley to be a little annoying as I thought he acted a little too old for his age, but that does seem to be a common theme throughout lots of novels that feature kids.
The romance is very slow, but there’s tension between Althea and Jesse throughout most of the novel. There are scenes where both characters are drawn to one another with glances and the simplest of touches. Jesse is a virgin; his father told him he’s not to ‘be’ with a woman as a lot of folk don’t understand Jesse. And that’s true as a lot of the mountain folk tease Jesse and don’t give him the time of his day because of what they call his ‘feebleness’. I loved that Althea defended Jesse against these people, and she didn’t treat Jesse any differently because of his disability. I didn’t like the subplot with Eben because there’s a scene where where it straddles the forced seduction line with Mavis, his love interest. I didn’t understand why Eben was so cruel to Mavis, and I felt he was simply made out to be ‘flawed’ for no good reason other than to be flawed, and it felt a little superficial.
When Jesse and Althea finally get together, and it’s towards the latter part of the book, the sex was no hold back virginal affair. They were lusty, and I was so happy to see both get their HEA. Some things tied up too neatly for my liking with Althea’s father, but it was such a sweet moment seeing Althea and Jesse having their HEA.
I give Simple Jesse a B+