Connie Thompson, the good doctor's wealthy housekeeper, and her ambitious baker-wanna-be, "Christmas ornament" sister, Estelle Pillow, kick off the first two chapters with just how colorful life in Watervalley can be. Estelle's pacemaker is out of whack and unfortunately for Dr. Bradford, he touches her at the wrong moment and receives a jolt he won't soon forget. This scene sets the stage for the doctor's sense of humor while interacting with these sisters and made me hopeful that I would continue to enjoy this novel immensely. This hope was granted as I read further and realized there's a sweet romance developing for this single doctor within this book, too. Having already bonded in friendship with his housekeeper, it doesn't take Luke very long to realize that the loving, comical banter between Connie and her sister has won his heart, making him part of their support system for the future. Theirs will be a long friendship, among others, that will affect his new life in Watervalley.
Throughout this wonderful novel you can hear the chorus of voices from the residents of Watervalley, past and present, influencing this young doctor's choices. When he discovers a years-old unsolved murder, will he be able to bring closure to the rumors that have become truth without the evidence? Will he keep his heart intact or lose it to the woman who introduces him to what's special about living in rural America?
I fell in love with the people of Watervalley in this fictional tale that takes place in Middle Tennessee. There were times when I laughed literally out loud at their repartee and I had to immediately read those parts to my husband. This book is definitely one you'll want to share with friends and family. I'm betting that it would be especially charming in audio, if it gets released in that format in the future. I think that's because the storytelling style reminds me of LAKE WOBEGON DAYS by Garrison Keillor, which I listened to many years ago.
Dr. Luke Bradford is young with enough geekiness and silliness inside that he finds it impossible to contain it around these people who seem to draw that out of him. He's professional, but not without a sense of humor and a curiosity about life that endears him to the reader. An old file found in Luke's office turns him into an amateur sleuth, snooping until he uncovers the truth of this town's only murder. Luke is also a bit of a dolt when it comes to romance, which made me hope he'd finally get it together and win the girl of his dreams. What a fun journey—Luke bumbles, recovers and scores!
What I loved most about author Jeff High's writing style is that there are moments when he made me laugh at his "such a guy" and sometimes dorky outlook that he gave to his main male character, and yet, this author has a way of honing in on some of the most amazing qualities of women with a revered respect and playfulness. You start to sense a realistic understanding of love, life and all its intricacies because the author has such a good time poking fun at relationships and human inadequacies as well as celebrating their triumphs. Jeff High's writing style is genuine and caring with a keen amount of laugh-out-loud enjoyment.
I loved those "such a guy" moments of the main character mixed in with his respect for women, as well as Luke's cluelessness when it comes to being the right type of romantic guy for the woman he's falling for—Don Juan he is not, which makes him charmingly realistic. There's a well-rounded depth to Jeff High's female characters in EACH SHINING HOUR, from the one Luke falls in love with to the women you can easily picture as the well-intentioned and forgiving mother figures. The male character camaraderie is believable and amusing as they poke fun at each other, trying to find their way in life and love. Expect a few tears before the end if you become as wrapped up in these characters' lives as I was. It's an entertaining style that's both addictive and endearing.
One character that is especially charming in a curmudgeonly sort of way is John Harris. A widower, John's ambivalence toward life and his eventual choice to live it adds a lively friendship for Luke, as well as much entertainment for the reader when John finds the right woman for himself.
I didn't read book one, MORE THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH, so I feel you can easily read book two, EACH SHINING HOUR, as a standalone without any difficulty. But, I'm sure if you're like me, you'll want to read book one to find out what you missed in the beginning of this WATERVALLEY series. EACH SHINING HOUR is an oftentimes laugh-out-loud funny tale about the eccentricities of small town life, balanced amongst poignant moments and how this life can be exactly what you don't know you need. A truly wonderful feel-good novel sprinkled with inspiration for leading a fulfilling, loving life full of forgiveness and hope.