Courted by Understanding (In Hyacinth #4) by Bree Cariad

 Dora Lexington is cute, round, and utterly practical. She has watched her best friends find their husbands, knowing full-well it will never happen to her. Or so she thinks until meeting Xander’s cousin Gaelic Covington. At first she doesn’t see how such a handsome, successful man can be attracted to her. But attracted he is. In fact, he has been head over heels in love with her for years.As they come to know one another, they discover each other’s secrets and she finds out that in the heart of the strong
man is a boy who is just as worried at being rejected as she is. Falling in love with him is simple; even simpler to submit to his lead. However, when Dora discovers something about herself that she finds shocking, she tries to run. Now it’s up to Gaelic to convince her that nothing will make him leave, not even that.
I do believe that Courted by Understanding may be my favorite of the In Hyacinth series to-date. As much as I love the perfect hero and heroine, I also adore those that feel like real people and Dora and Gaelic are perfect examples of people I would befriend. With her short stature, plus-size figure, and the complete lack of interest by the courting males of Hyacinth, Dora has relegated herself to spinsterhood at the ripe-old age of 20. While I hated that Dora felt this way about her future, I loved that she threw herself wholeheartedly into working with Chris at the Inn, which gave us a chance to see how their sibling-style relationship has continued to develop since Courted by Trouble. Actually, because Dora works with Chris and because Chris and Stephanie still live with Dora, fans of the series get to catch up with both of them.
Despite how bleak Dora’s love life appears, she loves her job and the chance to meet new people on a near daily basis, the most interesting of late being Xan’s cousin, Gaelic. I thought it was so cute when Dora decided that she must have a thing for Covington men based on her reaction to Gaelic. Because it’s always easier to see attraction not directed at yourself, I was quite excited to see that Gaelic seemed to be taken by Dora and while their initial interaction was briefer than expected, I knew I only had to bide my time for his return and it proved to be well worth the wait. The group ski trip was not only fun to watch play out, but also rather insightful. I loved that Xan proved himself to be even more observant than we already knew him to be and that he pointed out the negativity associated with the age expectations of the courting system despite it having worked out well for him and Kathy. That the ski trip served as the unofficial beginning of Gaelic’s courtship of Dora just made it that much sweeter.
As much as I loved the way that Gaelic used his time while traveling for business to get to know Dora via their lengthy phone conversations and how the gifts he sent to her that showed she was never too far from his thoughts, my absolute favorite part of the book was when Gaelic walked in on Marjorie harassing Dora. As laidback as Gaelic had been to that point, I think that scene proved that he could be just as intense and commanding as his cousin Xan. Marjorie got a serious lesson in karma that I think may actually stick this time (hehehe). Yes,there are so many wonderful scenes in the book, but the adolescent fat girl in me loved that the mean girl got her comeuppance. Courted by Understanding is the first book in the series that left me wishing that the series wasn’t quite so sweet because I really wanted to see the heat that Gaelic promised to bring to the bedroom with his slippering technique. This is also one couple that I would love to see get a follow-up book as I think it would be a blast to see Dora Out of Hyacinth. Courted by Understanding was an absolute gem of a read that I have added to my reread list. As always, I’m already looking forward to Ms. Cariad’s next installment in the In Hyacinth series.

About the series “In Hyacinth” by Bree Cariad:

Hyacinth, Washington is all about old-fashioned values. In Hyacinth words like trust, honor, and kindness aren’t just buzzwords. Hyacinth is a community built on tradition and trust, where men are the head of the home and women are encouraged to follow their lead.
Each story in the series is of a young woman (18-20) and her struggle to figure out who she is in this little town while at the same time going through Hyacinth’s old-fashioned courting system. On their way to meet, get to know, and finally marry their princes, these heroines grow in ways they and their town never expected.
Just before her shift was up, a person walked into the inn making her groan. Of all people to come in today, why did it have to be Marjorie? She didn’t even try to hide the fact that she was here to see Dora. She made a beeline for her the second she entered. “A Covington?” she asked haughtily. “However did you pull that off?”
 “What’s your problem, Marjorie?” she asked with a sigh. “I’m at work if you didn’t notice.”
“Yes, work,” she said with a snide smile. “Does he know about your work?” Dora opened her mouth to reply when the door opened and the man in question walked in, smiling at her as he paused to wait. She figured he thought Marjorie was a guest. Until he heard her next words. “He must be using you. You aren’t the kind of girl a Covington marries, Dora. You’re noth—”
His blue eyes deepened to an almost black and his expression hardened as he took three long strides forward and stepped between them. Marjorie looked up to see who it was and the blood drained out of her face.
“Excuse me,” he said coldly, “but you have no say at all in whom I choose to love and marry. What is your name?”
“I-I…” Her skin turned a little green as she took a step backward. Dora remembered the last time she had seen her like this, at the Memorial Day Picnic almost two years previous when Xan had come down on her. Marjorie Farthing didn’t learn very well.
“Is there a problem?” Chris asked, stepping out of the kitchen and looking from Dora to Gaelic to Marjorie. As his eyes centered on her, they turned cold and he stepped forward next to Gale. “Were you giving our Dora insults again?” His voice was as cold as ice and Dora half expected the woman to pee her pants.
“Again?” Gaelic asked, turning slightly toward Chris.
“Yes, Mrs. Farthing has picked on your woman her entire life.”
A low rumbling sound filled the air and Dora looked around trying to figure out what it was. When she realized it came from Gaelic, she just stared at him. He growled. Her man just growled at Marjorie Farthing.
“Where is your husband?” he asked her in a clipped tone.
“A-at work,” she said, stumbling over her words.
“I see. I will be in touch with him about this problem you seem to have with Dora Lexington and it will not be pretty. If I so much as hear you have breathed even the slightest cruelty toward or about her, you will not like the result, Mrs. Farthing. Part of a man’s role is to protect the woman he loves and I will protect Dora with my life. Do we understand one another?”
Marjorie nodded, her eyes wide.
“Then leave now.”
Gulping, she turned and ran. It was a good thing Tatum was coming in or she might have run into the door in her hurry to escape.Chris clasped him on the shoulder, winked at Dora and left, walking back to the kitchen. Turning slowly, Gaelic’s eyes lost their glare and softened. “Are you all right?” he asked gently, pulling her into a hug.
All right? How can a person explain how amazingly wonderful it was to have the man they cared about not only announce to everyone that he loved her, but defend her as well. “I love you,” she murmured against his chest.
His chest rumbled with a laugh making her smile. “That’s nice to hear, Dora. Very nice to hear. Because I love you, too. I have for quite a while.”
Bree enjoys good books with great characters. While she may be an adult, her favorite memories are from her teenage years reading inspirational romance with girls just like her and strong heroes. That’s one of the reasons she’s written In Hyacinth, a series of Courting Romances.
Courting Romance – where contemporary romance meets traditional values.