Lori Hanson is trying to start over; she’s moved from the South, where she was born and raised, to small-town Montana, to try to connect with her mother’s roots, and get away from her abusive ex-husband. She sure didn’t plan on falling for her first boss! Josh Anderson is tall, hunky, and hurt by the death of his wife three years ago. Clearly, these two damaged souls couldn’t manage to find each other…or can they?
I’ll say it up front; I’m ambivalent about this book. The plot is fine, the characters mostly-believable, the sex scenes are intense and beautiful…but it may not be for every reader.
I almost gave this book a trigger warning rating, because Lori eventually tells Josh what had happened to her in her marriage, in rather a lot of detail. Josh is quite-properly upset by this, and handles things very well, but it’s still somewhat of an intense scene.
No, my problem here…well, we’ve seen this before. The chemistry between Josh and Lori is intense, but it is rather-inexplicably sudden. At the outset of the book, Lori is wound up like a spring, fearful of men, especially big ones. Josh is somewhat over six feet tall–a big dude, but the first time they meet, when he accidentally bumps into her at the gym, she clobbers him! But all-too-abruptly, he’s kissed her, then a short few pages later, they’re steaming up the windows. I haven’t known too many abuse victims, but I’ve known a few, and something about that just does not ring true to me, given the description of what happened to her at the hands of her ex. To be fair, if this were handled realistically, we’d have a much, much longer book on our hands; however, the author could have mitigated this with a bit more time-dilation, making months pass, that sort of thing.
Aside from that, this is a well-crafted work; the places and personae are richly described, well-dimensioned, and thoroughly plausible. The plot is, of course, rather predictable–the ex does, eventually, catch up to her, near the end of the book, and the confrontation ends the way it should. Josh struggles with his love for his late wife, and how he does not want to be put in the same spot again, having someone who is more risk-prone than he is in his life. Once he gets around to admitting his love for Lori, everything gets better in a hurry, and we head for the end of the book with everything as it should be, with her by his side and in the bosom of a caring, wonderful community of family and friends. The getting there, of course, is half the fun, so I won’t ruin that for you.
If you’re looking for a good story, give this a read; with my reservations about Lori’s past experiences, I recommend it. I enjoyed the book quite a bit, but I don’t think it’s an accurate or useful portrayal of abuse victims.