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A Time to Laugh
By Kelly Eileen Hake
Set in Saddleback Montana, in 1916, Isaac proposes marriage to his life-long friend, Nessa. She turns him down because his proposal does not contain a statement of love, but is only based upon duty, family expectations, and the concept that a good marriage is based on being able to work together. Nessa wants a husband that loves her, citing a Bible passage that exhorts a man to live with the wife he loves, not to live with the wife he can work with.
Meanwhile, a new family moves to the small settlement town. They are rich enough to have a housekeeper servant. The daughter, Clementine, is a beauty with lace gloves and parasols. Isaac is at first attracted to her beauty, but over time, realizes that she can't cook, farm or do any of the chores this lifestyle demands. She's never eaten dandelions, picked berries, or planted potatoes. The brother, Lawrence, is attracted to Nessa, and gives her all the romantic attention she has longed for. But over time, she realizes that gallantry isn't enough to build a relationship; it also takes loyalty, honesty and conviction, the traits that attract her to Isaac.
In the end, they both realize what they had in the beginning and are brought back together. Nessa learns to accept Isaac's unspoken affections, and he learns to appreciate her natural beauty.
The story is quite pleasant, well plotted and easy to read. It includes a tour of Yellowstone National Park, with enough factual information to make it interesting.