I seem to have a pattern running – it feels like for every book that has either disappointed me, or left me feeling meh, I’ve read, immediately on its heels, a book similar in trope, that leaves me happy! I recently read a book, by a well known but new to me author, about a couple that finally gets together after years of keeping each other at arms length. The reason for the romantic separation is because the hero saved the heroine early on and the hero doesn’t think he’s worthy of the heroine’s affections. In the book I read and reviewed earlier, I had trouble liking the characters, I didn’t hate them, I just found them meh. Color me skeptical when I cracked open my very first Lily Everett book and discovered a painfully similar idea. Color me giddy when I felt an immediate affinity towards both our hero and our heroine. Yep, Closer to Home is a win for me! Let me tell you why.
Tessa Alexander. In a word, Tessa, steals the show in this tale. Terri comes from a very strict upbringing on a secluded, cultish commune. When she gets sick and her father refuses to get her necessary medical treatment, she runs away. She’s rescued by the handsome but aloof Johnny. A few years older than our late teen Terri, yes, she was Terri back then, that’s not a typo, Johnny does what he considers to be the right thing, and marries her. She has nothing and no one. Johnny is a protective, gotta save everyone and protect the innocent kinda fella. He never wants Terri to feel obligated or pressured into anything other than friendship in this odd marriage they’ve cobbled together. He simply wants her safe and healthy, marriage is a means to that end. Much to Terri’s chagrin, Johnny never, ever crosses the line with her. Even after years of marriage, they’ve never shared more than a polite kiss on the forehead. Well, that shit stops now…
Johnny has some deep-seated issues that he’s never dealt with. When he happens upon a helpless Terri, he sees a sort of redemption for his broken soul. But, he is nothing if not proper with her. Terri is terribly innocent and he will not be the one the sully that. A man with a broken soul doesn’t deserve her, he just wants to see her safe and happy. He sets her up as his wife so she can get the medical care she needs and heads off into the military, for multiple tours of duty. Terri is well provided for and once he returns, Johnny takes on the role of a deep undercover police office for close to two years. He experiences a special kind of darkness while undercover and is completely blindsided to return home after his successful mission, to find his wife gone. A literal Dear John letter, complete with divorce papers awaits him. That darkness he experienced led him to an understanding and when coupled with the abrupt loss of his wife, well Johnny knows now is the time to shit or get off the pot. Remember, this marriage has never been consummated…over a decade together and nothing even remotely close to sexy times. Terri has left the building so to speak, and she’s currently living her life as Tessa on Sanctuary Island.
Tessa has carved out a very nice life for herself in this new, small town. She’s finally doing something she loves and while she wishes Johnny the best, he sincerely holds a special place in her heart, she knows, finally, that she deserves a man that will treat her as a woman, and an equal. She hates the look of pity she has seen in Johnny’s eyes since the day they met. For Johnny, he has some serious baggage he’s never discussed with his wife, there is a reason he’s so protective of her and it’s a pretty good one. He rescued her at such a young and tender age, he never wanted her to think she had to repay him in any sort of sexual way. What he did, he truly did out of the goodness of his heart. However, as I mentioned, the undercover mission got his mind to spinning…maybe his wife could finally be a real wife to him, he’s always loved her, maybe he should show her how much. Imagine his surprise when he came home to that Dear John letter…oh no, he’s gonna go find his girl and win her back.
Both Tessa and Johnny agree to couple’s counseling once he finds her. He convinces her to give him a month, 30 days, to court her and prove to her that he sees her an an equal and as a woman he fully desires. Tessa is, of course, quite leery of is idea but for her, it’s always been Johnny. He is literally her knight in shining armor and now that the school girl crush has had time to develop into a mature lust and full blown love, well…Tessa is willing to give it a go.
Close to Home is a beautiful second chance romance, set in a quirky, small town with an array of secondary characters that will brighten your day. These two characters know they have much to work out and the beautiful thing is, they are mature enough to have the hard conversations. And let me tell you, Tessa is no pushover, she makes Johnny earn his way back in and it is lovely. We also get a glimpse at the couple that will be the heart of book 6 in this series, Marcus and Quinn – boy ol’boy am I excited to read Home At Last (March 7, 2017). These two have zero trouble accepting the sweaty physical aspects of their relationship…for them, everything else is the hardest part! I’m tickled pink to have found this series. The story is very well written, both characters show substantial growth throughout the book. No skimming of this one. There is a fair amount of suspense that happens and it plays out nicely within the context of the book. In fact, dare I say, I didn’t see it coming at all but I was happy when the suspense showed its face, it led to even more growth in our girl Tessa. She is such a strong, confident character who just needed to find the nerve to let herself shine.
Smooches,Tags: Lily Everett, Sanctuary Island series, second chance, small town