The first half of the book is a solid 3 stars, but it falls apart in the second half. The plot moppets (Maddie's sister and Ben's godchild) grated on my nerves and sucked a lot of enjoyment from reading Maddie and Ben's story. And this is the second book I read this week that did not resolve the paternity question that is the heart of the hero's motivation - so frustrating!
Maddie is an okay heroine, although her constant smiling drove me up the wall. She has the stereotypical tragic back story, a little OTT for my taste. Her mother abandoned her and her younger sister to their grandparents, her grandmother died of cancer, her grandfather died from complications due to mismanaged diabetes and dementia, her sister is a cancer survivor, and since she had to take care of her younger sister after all that death, she never went to college and instead became a postal worker. She was given the promotion of postmaster in Harmony Valley, her grandfather's old post office that hasn't been open in more than a decade. The younger sister is a piece of work, closing in on 18 going on 8.
Ben's story isn't puppies and rainbows either. He left a fire station in Oakland, CA to move with his dying dad and mother to Harmony Valley so that his dad can finish out the 10 months left for a full retirement and benefits. Dad is the new fire chief, Ben is regulated to firefighter and to cover for dad's less than awesome health in front of the council and mayor. Oh and he is the guardian of a bratty seven year old after the brat's mother (and Ben's colleague) died in the line of firefighting duty. He is searching for said brat's father (named John Smith on the birth certificate) but there might be a chance the brat's his daughter. His mother "naps" a lot and the brat leaves the house to explore the town and find critters of the animal variety to bring home. Ben just wants to find the brat's dad, get his own dad safely to retirement, then leave this crap town for good and become a fire investigator.
Needless to say, I didn't warm to anybody in this book and I actively hated the sister and godchild/possible daughter by the end. Maddie and Ben love being in denial about their lives and constant crappy decision making. The arsonist villain got off with a slap on the wrist (excuse me "psychological evaluation") due to his advanced age. I have no interest in continuing reading this series.