How to Knit a Heart Back Home by Rachael Herron. This is the second book in the Cypress Hollow Yarn series of knitting romances, after How to Knit a Love Song. This second entry worked much better for me on the romance level, and it was funny, to boot.
Lucy in her thirties and still not able to find a man able to match up to her memories of Owen, the bad boy she tutored in high school and who kissed her just once. Now, she owns the Book Spire bookstore, which she inherited from her grandmother, in a former chapel in Cypress Hollow. She’s also a member of the volunteer fire department. As the story begins, a car crashes into a pole outside Lucy’s brother’s bar, where she’s knitting and drinking with her best friend. She runs out and rescues the woman from the flaming car with the help of a man who’d just showed up. The woman is Abby from the first book, now pregnant with her second. The man, of course, turns out to be Owen. He’s back from the big city, forcibly retired from being a cop by an injury and come home to take care of his aging mother with Alzheimer’s. Owen comes over to her shop the next day, with boxes of ancient books that he’s hoping to sell her for the used-book side of her business. Once again, there are major sparks – but can they get past the obstacles in their way, including their pasts and Owen’s old bad boy reputation? Their journey towards romance is also a journey towards personal growth for both of them, and not just the accepting the need to love and be loved kind of personal growth. While there’s still a lot of physical attraction, Lucy and Owen seem to care more about each others’ eyes and smell than the shape of their rear ends, which also works better for me.
There are some great supporting characters here, too, mostly on Lucy’s side – her best friend, Molly, a daring Chinese medical interpreter and conquest-a-week type; her mother, Toots, an artist and free spirit just starting up a sex toys business to Lucy’s extreme embarrassment; the too-beautiful high school classmate who owns the nearby bakery; and the trio of old folks who nearly live in the book store. These side characters make the story both funnier and a spicier than it would be on its own, and might keep it from being appreciated it by more conservative readers. Lucy is of course a dedicated knitter. The yarny love in this book comes from her quest to recreate the worn-out hand knit yellow sweater her grandmother made that she always wears at the bookstore (pattern included) and (spoiler alert!) the cache of unpublished papers from (fictional) knitting guru Eliza Carpenter that Lucy finds in the boxes Owen gives her. This was an entirely satisfying romance on both the relationship and the knitting sides. Keep it up, Ms. Herron!