Whitley Reynolds’ dreams of a happy life in New York City go awry when her beloved boyfriend, Roger, becomes an abusive, controlling jerk who eventually lands her in the hospital.
Whitley decides to leave him and start a new life in Llano, TX, with her best friend Courtney. There she meets Layton Morris, a cowboy dealing with the death of his brother in Afghanistan and the loss of his girlfriend Olivia to a man who had been a close friend. Layton and Whitley start off as verbal dueling partners, but quickly become friends, and then quite a bit more, while Courtney appears to be battling a similar mutual attraction to Reed Moore, another old friend of Layton’s. But old wounds and new ones interfere with both potential relationships – can love find its way in the end?
This is a tender, sweetly intense romance, with a positive message for abuse survivors. The Layton/Whitley love story is satisfyingly sentimental and warmhearted. Courtney and Reed add a little antagonistic spice to the book, and leave the reader anticipating the sequel, where their story will hopefully be resolved. The author has a good grasp of the dynamics of abuse, and gives her female lead an encouraging amount of spine, making her a capable woman reacting to a difficult situation rather than a fragile and helpless victim.
The sentiment is laid on a bit thick, even to the point of becoming downright syrupy, especially between Whitley and Layton. Also, it falls into the relatively common romance novel trap of creating difficulties for the couple/s that, aside from Roger, are (or would be, in Courtney and Reed’s case) quickly and easily resolved as soon as the lovers begin talking to each other like grown-ups. The other common trap to which the book falls prey is the evil ex – not Roger, who is at least believably evil, but Olivia, who is so nasty and manipulative that one wonders how a nice guy like Layton fell so hopelessly in love with her in the first place.
If you’re feeling down and could use a bit of pure sweetness spiced with some entertaining verbal sparring, this book is well worth picking up.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader