Author: Melody Carlson
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman
Courting Mr. Emerson is a sweet romance that follows the usual love story formula, but instead of young characters, the protagonists are mature and ready for the second stage of life. Stodgy Mr. Emerson is an English teacher at the local high school. He follows routine and doesn’t have a car because he can walk to wherever he needs to go. He uses a typewriter and listens to vinyl records. Never married, he is content in his solitude in his small bungalow and avoids having to talk to the neighbors. He is not mean; he just likes his own company and prefers order. Realizing he has had enough, he accepts an early buyout and plans on retiring at the quickly-approaching end of the school year.
Willow, on the other hand, is a free spirit artist who owns an art gallery in town. She meets Mr. Emerson when she requests a college letter of referral for her grandson, whom she has raised since infancy. She is outgoing, lively, and a bit of a hippie. She is also widowed and lonely. Neither she nor Mr. Emerson see themselves as friends, let alone anything more, because they are so different, but of course life has an interesting way of working out sometimes.
In addition to stirring up a romance between the unlikely pair, both people deal with some issues severely affecting their lives. Willow’s grandson is graduating high school, and his absent band groupie mother, Josie, comes to see him at Willow’s invitation. Willow hopes to reconcile with Josie while establishing a relationship between Josie and the son she doesn’t know. Considering that Collin doesn’t want a relationship with Josie, Willow knows she is facing an uphill battle. George Emerson doesn’t even know he is facing any issues. He is happy to live a retiree’s quiet life, until he realizes he isn’t. He was raised by his grandparents after his parents died, and after his brother died in Vietnam, he is truly alone. He loses his college sweetheart to a car accident and never finds anyone to love again. He is an atheist because he believes that no god would give one person so much pain. Willow, a true believer and spiritual person, helps George to see that maybe there is more to life than routine and solitude.
While I liked the general format of the story, I did have a problem with some of the characters. Willow does seem to be a bit overwhelming, and I found it hard to like her. Even though Mr. Emerson is surrounded by hundreds of teens every school day, he seems to be way out of touch with what is happening around him. It is one thing not to participate in current activities, but to be unaware of them given his situation, seems to be unrealistic. How everything falls into place for both of them by the end also seems to be a bit unrealistic, but given that is the nature of romance stories, it may be a bit more acceptable.
I did enjoy the book with some misgivings, and I believe that romance readers will enjoy the book as well. It is tame as far as romances go, and there is nothing objectionable as far as theme or language is concerned. Willow is a spiritual character, and as such does tend to push religion a bit. All things concerned, Melody Carlson and romance fans will enjoy this book if taken at face value.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.