It’s always fun to return to Maple Valley, especially when it’s a surprise return, as was this book! I always love reading stories set in small towns because of the sense of community and how everyone looks out for each other.
Jenessa and Lucas’s story is a sweet story of hope, redemption, and forgiveness. While I enjoyed this story, I felt like there were so many different threads that it took away from the development of the main relationship. I did love the dynamics of the group of friends and how they always support one another.
I’m looking forward to heading back to Maple Valley whenever the next book is out and I’m really hoping Sam is the main character!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The faith element is light.
"Now this was what he wanted more than anything - to wake up in a house filled with people he loved."
A house full of people he loved seemed like a broken down dream for a fractured ex-soldier suffering under the burden of multiple blemishes on his military record. Presently, Lucas Danby found himself living in the in-between, unsure of which life he was going to return to, or if by chance there was a door number three out there somewhere; a some bright someday. Would he remain in Maple Valley utilizing his landscaping skills, or would he return to Bridgewell; travelling six months out of every year into high risk areas around the world as an elite private soldier; or could the events of the past several weeks change everything he thought about his best friend Jen; Jenessa Belville, the one person who drove him crazy in the best and worst kinds of ways.
Shocked to find three children hiding out in the cottage on her property, Jenessa Belville couldn't help herself; she immediately felt a heady rush of responsibility, quickly ushering the siblings into her home, or rather her parents' massive estate, which she was planning to sell as soon as she could clean it out. . . . right? Protective bonds formed quickly and Jen discovered that one of her best friends, Lucas Danby, was great with children; who would have thought that the pensive, often self-isolating man could handle himself with such gentle ease? Suddenly their three year long relationship began to re-define itself right before their very eyes.
If you are looking for a sweet, home-town romance between besties look no further. But be forewarned, there are some authentic, gut-wrenching struggles in this book; tactfully flayed wide open so that guilt, and misconceptions, and bitterness, and fear are put on full display for all to see. And that's exactly what it takes for healing to take place.
"I would probably say don't be afraid to wrestle with your faith. God's not going to ditch you the moment you get real with Him."
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.
He’s torn between love and honor...
Lucas Danby has always regretted the decisions that caused his dishonorable discharge from the military—and he’s never stopped trying to redeem his honor. He's spent the past decade taking on dangerous short-term missions as an elite private soldier—the only part of his life that's ever gone right. But the high-risk work never cures his shame. Now he’s stuck stateside, mentoring a new recruit. Worse, he's sick of lying to the people he cares about most—including the woman he’s secretly loved for years.
She can’t escape her house of memories...
Jenessa Belville should be happy. She's the hometown girl everyone loves, after all. But she’s also the last Belville left—and if she had her way, she'd leave the name and all its painful memories behind. Which is exactly what she hopes to do once she sells Belville Park, the massive estate she inherited from her parents. First, though, she needs to restore the property’s once-glorious gardens. But on the same day she puts up the “For Sale” sign, she discovers three children hiding in the caretaker's cottage, thrusting her into the unexpected role of temporary guardian.
Fighting for their future means healing from the past...
Struggling to mentor a young man with scars nearly as piercing as his own, Lucas offers to help Jenessa restore the Belville grounds. Though drawn together by a trio of kids who tug on their hearts and the sparks they can’t deny, past secrets and current sorrows threaten to pull them apart. Only the brightest love and hardest sacrifice can turn the house Jenessa never wanted into the home she and Lucas have always longed for.
Larkspur Press, Nov 2020