I have wanted to try a Peterson book for awhile now, but felt really intimidated by her backlist. Seeing this book on my library shelf made the decision for me. I'm glad I chose this one as there was a lot to like in the book.
First up, Italian immigrants and their families in a historical romance - thank you! Finally! Seeing immigrants (other than from the UK or Ireland) in historical fiction (much less inspirational historical fiction) and their traditions while also seeing themselves as American was a treat that I take with grateful hands. I felt the immigrants' Catholic religion was downplayed a lot, but inspirational genre frowns upon anything touching Catholism, so I understood that the author had to navigate between the characters and her expected audience.
Chantel was a great character who was strong but was not needed to prop up the rest of the family - each member of her family helped out and wasn't a burden on another person, although one of them courted trouble and ended up paying the price. I like that Chantel wasn't the only one responsible in her family. Same with Dante - each of his family members did their part and worked together without being a prop to show Dante's goodness.
And the sparks flew so much when Chantel and Dante were together it was a wonder that the town wasn't set on fire. Their romance was a slow burn (real slow) but the other plotlines in the story kept the romance from becoming repetitive. A lot of stuff goes down in a small mining town in Minnesota over the course of a year, which gave Chantel and Dante room to grow as individuals as well as a couple.
One issue I had with the book was that the preaching got repetitive towards the last 25% of the book. Up until then, the religious tone was woven within the characters and story seamlessly, then all of a sudden it was scripture quotes on every page.
I have plans to read the other two books in the trilogy. Each book can be read as a stand alone, so no worries about having to read the series in order.