THE OTHER SIDE OF CERTAIN by Amy Willoughby-Burle
SERIES: Love For Certain #1
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Fireship Press
RELEASE DATE: September 21, 2022
For the love of love…and books
Mattie Mobley planned to be a teacher, but when times grew tough during America’s Great Depression, and there were no teaching positions in her hometown of Asheville, NC, Mattie found work starting a school and helping the Pack Horse Librarians just over the mountains in the rural town of Certain, Kentucky. She’s not certain at all that this is a good situation, but she’s determined, and honestly, a little desperate. Of all the things that Mattie does have—money, comforts, a good name, she doesn’t have what matters most—friends, love, and a purpose of her own.
Daniel, “The Grizzly Bear,” Barrett had a lovely life for a little while. Overcoming his family’s bad name and worse reputation, he made a life for himself in Certain. He was married with children and a figure of respect in his church, but desperate times called for desperate measures and a terrible tragedy was the result. Now exiled with his children along the wily run of the Hell for Certain Creek, Daniel has gotten used to being the town pariah again. It’s in his blood after all. Right? Maybe not, but he’ll need the powerful influence of love not only to change his own mind about himself but to convince his estranged extended family and the whole town as well.
Can one librarian with a saddlebag full of books make people see the difference between fact and fiction? Mattie loves a good story, and this may be her best one yet. Fiction tells the best truths and the best truth of all is love.
“I could sense however that I was terribly unprepared and about to get in way over my head for sure, but then again, so began all the best of adventures.”
Oh y’all. I can’t adequately put into words how much I loved this book. Its cadence both washed over me and embraced me, and I quickly fell under its charm. Despite this being a fictional novel, the characters convinced me they are real people, and you cannot tell me otherwise. The fact that The Other Side of Certain is the first in a new series simply elates me because I need to spend more time in this community and with these characters.
Mattie Mobley wants to be a teacher but in her hometown of Asheville, NC, during the Great Depression, there are no teaching positions to be had. So, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s library project, she volunteers to help a small Kentucky town in the heart of Appalachia as a pack horse librarian with hopes of eventually reinstating the school as its teacher. Much like Catherine Marshall’s Christy Huddleston, Amy Willoughy-Burle’s Mattie Mobley isn’t prepared for what she’s walking into. Not the town’s troubling secrets, nor the story in progress that she’s disrupted just by her mere presence … nor how the people would so completely worm their way into her heart. I loved Mattie’s character – she is full of both strength and empathy, with a big heart and a determined spirit. I felt her emotions deeply as I read the parts of the narrative from her perspective, and I very much enjoyed looking over her shoulder to watch her fall in love with the town of Certain, its children, and one ramshackle family in particular.
Enter Daniel Barrett – town pariah and hermit whose tragic past is cloaked in gossip and silence. A ‘beast’ of a man whose wild appearance and gruff demeanor successfully keeps people from intruding on his pain, even if it also stubbornly keeps his adorable children sheltered from the outside world. In fact, if the dictionary did such things, the word ‘haunted’ would include a mention of Daniel Barrett. He is haunted by his choices, haunted by his upbringing, and haunted by all he’s lost. When Mattie rides into his life, bringing the gift of story back to his little family, he soon falls hard. And oh boy, y’all. When he starts flirting, hang on to your hats. When he starts kissing???? Goodness, just pick me up off the floor where I’ve melted into a swoony little puddle. No matter how good the kissing is, how much he wants to go on kissing her, or how quickly his children loved her, pursuing a happily-ever-after with Mattie is complicated at best and impossible at worst. The author does a fabulous job of incorporating these various – and palpable – tensions into the story and building them to a crescendo that will steal your breath.
Bottom Line: Amy Willoughby-Burle’s latest is absolutely one of my favorite reads of 2022! I loved every word, and I so badly want the time to go back and read it again. It took me on a roller coaster of emotions, broke my heart a couple of times, and sewed it back up with a tender joy that spilled out my eyes. Amid the sweet tears there was also laughter. I grinned like a fool, and I certainly swooned like one. This is more than a historical romance – it is also a layered look at the beauty of grace. Fans of Christy, Wonderland Creek, and Beauty & the Beast will love The Other Side of Certain!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / in a class by itself!
KissingBook Level: 4 / keep those fans & fainting couches handy
Amy Willoughby-Burle grew up in the small coastal town of Kure Beach, NC, and now lives in Asheville, NC with her husband and four children. She teaches creative writing and works as a freelance editor when not working on her own fiction. She is also the director of Wildacres Writers Workshop. She is the author of the novels The Lemonade Year and The Year of Thorns and Honey. Her award-winning short fiction has been published in numerous journals and in her collection, Out Across the Nowhere. Her fiction focuses on the importance of family and friends and centers on the themes of forgiveness, second chances, and finding beauty in the world around us. She likes to write about the wonder and mystery of everyday life.
Other Featured Books by Amy Willoughby-Burle
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