Simple Jess : Marrying Stone

  • by Pamela Morsi
  • Narrated by Kevin Clay
  • Series: Marrying Stone
  • 12 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The last thing widow Althea Winsloe wanted to do was remarry. Unfortunately, her meddlesome mountain neighbors had other plans. So, one autumn night they banded together and gave Althea a shocking ultimatum: she was to find herself a husband by Christmas...or the town would do it for her!
Althea knew she had her choice of any single man in Marrying Stone, Arkansas. Yet the only one she felt truly comfortable with was Simple Jess. Sweet, gentle Jess wasn't as smart as your average man. But his tender manner stirred Althea's heart in ways she had never dreamed possible.
Proclaimed "a refreshing new voice in romance" by Jude Deveraux, award-winning author Pamela Morsi has charmed millions with her touching stories of simple pleasures and heartfelt romances. Her novels, including Garters, Wild Oats, and Something Shady, have won her rave reviews and loyal fans. Now she presents an endearing story about what can happen when love turns up in the most unlikely place....

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Captivating romantic historical fiction!

Would you consider the audio edition of Simple Jess to be better than the print version?

Yes! The narrator was top notch. His performance really added to the novel. The narrator has such a pleasing tone of voice and is very gifted at sounding like different people, including men, women, and children. I read that the narrator is from Arkansas, and I do think the accents sound authentic (I have visited that state twice.)


Any additional comments?

I received a free copy of the audiobook in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
This is the first book I have read or listened to by Pamela Morsi, and now she is one of my favorite authors. I was so pleased by this novel and by the narration.
I would classify this as romantic historical fiction. It does have romantic elements and a happy ending like a romance would have, but the number of love scenes is very few (but moderately explicit) and the romance is not as strongly emphasized as it would be in a romance novel. This book is set in the early 1800s in a remote, tiny town in the mountains of Arkansas. The town is full of colorful characters who all seem to want a say in what the young widow Althea should do with her life, her farm, and her toddler. It is a quaint little community that reminds me of the TV show "Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman" but without the railroad or Native Americans. The title character, Jessie Best, is a good young man in his 20s who is not as smart as other people. When he was born, the cord was wrapped around his neck, resulting in minor brain damage. He is not autistic because he has no problem reading other peoples' emotions. His reasoning skills are rather poor, and he has trouble understanding conversations when lots of people are talking. However, he works very hard physically on the farm, and he takes his time figuring out situations and what he should do. Jessie is such a wonderful person, and it bothered me how many of the townspeople discriminated against him and also took him for granted.
The novel is very well-researched. I love the many details of daily life, and it is fascinating how much work it took to get ready for a harsh Arkansas winter.
The novel is told in third person, alternating among five people. The writer deftly handled the alternating points of view, never staying too long on any one person.
The novel has a steady pacing. Plot and relationship developments are fairly evenly spaced for most of the 12.5 hours of audio length. The steady pacing reminds me of that in Susanna Kearsley's novels, which are excellent.
Four of the five main characters are are admirable and easy to relate to. They are good people trying to stay true to themselves and do what is best for their families. The fifth main character, Eben Baxley, is such a nasty villain, and the narrator's performance of this character was impressively perfect.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical fiction set in frontier areas and any historical romance fan who appreciates a well-written Western romance. It will also appeal to romance fans who like unusual male heroes. Wonderful audio book!

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- Diana in SC "Heather"

I Loved This - Another RARE 5 Star Rating! *****


This was an utterly charming book that will go in my tiny, tiny section of books to read again – one day! *grin*

Althea Winsloe is widowed with a small child. She is putting what little knowledge she has about farming to use but realizes that she needs help, the help of a man.

Jess is a great guy who lives by the rules including what is good and what is bad. There are no shades of gray for him. The townsfolk call him 'Simple Jess' because it does take him time to filter through & figure out anything and everything. His mind works the way it does because, when his mother was giving birth, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck for too long before they could cut it away.

Jess hears about some hunting puppies that are going to be available. While he has no real occupation he tries to figure out a way to get one of these hunting puppies from Althea in an honest way. He approaches her home and she welcomes him in. They decide that if 'Simple Jess' will work the farm for one season to help her she will give him all of the hunting puppies. It seems a fair trade.

They learn new things about one another through their conversation during work and at the supper table.

Althea does not want to remarry for fear that another husband would want her only for her land and she's afraid that any children from that marriage would overshadow her sweet boy.

Three months before Christmas the townsfolk decide to have a 'kangaroo court.' This is a time when they bout and jest with one another. I imagine it is similar to the modern-day roast, but in this no one is safe! After some rousing and fun rounds of picking of the jury, the judge, etc. they go through a few silly things.

Althea's meddling former in-laws have something to say. They want her married by Christmas, it doesn't matter to whom, it just has to be a man from the mountains. Althea is very unimpressed with the serious tone this court has taken on her. Most of the townsfolk taking it very seriously.

In the meantime, Jess does everything he can to make sure that there is enough food for her Althea and her son through the winter. Jess may be simple, but not blind, and has never been this close to a woman before. He does his best to restrain from all of these feelings that he is having toward Althea.

Everyone has said he is simple and don't expect much from him – certainly not a family and children. So, for the most part he spends time with her child, teaching him how to work the ranch and does his best to look out for the boy. Because, even if he is slow, he can think things through, it may take a minute or two but he comes to conclusions that are similar to what regular people would.

This is a really sweet journey as men vie for Althea's affection in many ways. 'Simple Jess' doesn't seem to notice at first, he just performs his jobs and does everything he can to help make Althea and her son's lives easier, so they won't have to worry.

This may be a bit sappy for hardhearted people [like me] but it certainly got me in and kept me to the end. While *I was given this book was given to me in exchange for my review, there is nothing in it that I can critique. I really enjoyed the book on so many levels.

Kevin Clay's narration was excellent, a professional at his best. As always, I have a thing about male performers in female characters (and vice versa.) A lot of the time that doesn't work. Kevin Clay has it in the bag. Very professional, excellent. He did a wonderful job portraying our characters with ease.

The characters Clay had to perform included an: 84-year-old woman of the Mountain (who is quite comical) an eight-year-old boy and everything in between. I imagine it was tough, but it flowed smoothly – pure enjoyment. Great job.

I will be looking out for both this author and this narrator for future books. Currently (10/2015) there are no others available on Audible that I can find.

Notes: A bit of mild cussing, some tastefully written bedroom scenes and I think that's about it.

I will definitely listen to this book it again, someday when I have caught up on all of my TBL (to be listened to books). It is a losing battle and I have several collections that I purchased and need to listen to!

I enjoy leaving reviews, as I know that I read the reviews of others before I purchase a book. If you found my review helpful in your decision about this book, would you please select "yes" directly below this review? Thank you so much.

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- DK "No spoilers! Love HOT, sexy books w/a plot. No vampires, paranormal, teens 4 me. I also review in exchange for books-lots of fun surprises!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-30-2015
  • Publisher: Kiel Publishing