This is much deeper and more emotionally fraught than I expected from a Harlequin book. Until recently it had been quite a few years since I picked one up, and I've been pleasantly surprised by the fact that the ones I've read so far have been anything but the mindless fluff I remember. Anyone who picks this one up looking for a shallow story with little depth will probably not enjoy it, but I have to say that I absolutely loved it. This was an extremely well-thought-out plot, with logical yet very human reactions from the characters involved.
Heather and Xander both have Pasts. They've both made mistakes that affect how people perceive them, and that could taint their futures if they aren't careful. They each have to take a big leap of faith, take a chance on each other in order to create a happy future as a couple and a blended family, yet because of their checkered pasts they both have very understandable hangups about trust - Heather more so than Xander, perhaps.
It was fascinating to follow the way that both Heather and Xander were confronted with some stark truths about themselves, by people who cared about them, and were forced to grow as people in order to progress out of the ruts they'd become stuck in. This was a book that made me think way more than I'd expected I would have to; in some ways it was quite confrontational, forcing Heather and Xander to address their past mistakes. I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure it would be your average Harlequin reader's cup of tea.
Still, five stars for an excellent, thoughtful love story with extremely relatable characters!
Picket Fence Surprise is available on Kindle now and is released in paperback on March 7.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.