From award-winning author Laura Trentham comes an emotionally layered novel about redemption, second chances and discovering that life is worth fighting for.
At thirty, Greer Hadley never expected to be forced home to Madison, Tennessee with her life and dreams of being a songwriter up in flames. To make matters worse, a series of bad decisions and even crappier luck lands her community service hours at a nonprofit organization that aids veterans and their families. Greer cannot fathom how she’s supposed to use music to help anyone deal with their trauma and loss when the one thing that brought her joy has failed her.
When Greer meets fifteen-year-old Ally Martinez, her plans to stay detached and do as little as possible get thrown away. New to town and dealing with the death of her father in action, she hides her emotions behind a mask of bitterness and sarcasm, but Greer is able to see past it and recognizes pieces of who she once was in Ally. The raw and obvious talent she possesses could take her to the top and Greer vows to make sure life’s negativities don’t derail Ally’s potential.
After Greer is assigned a veteran to help, she’s not surprised Emmett Lawson, the town’s golden boy, followed his family’s legacy. What leaves her shocked is the shell of a man who believes he doesn’t deserve anyone’s help. A breakthrough with Ally reminds Greer that no one is worth giving up on. So she shows up one day with his old guitar, and meets Emmett’s rage head on with her stubbornness. When a situation with Ally becomes dire, the two of them must become a team to save her—and along the way they might just save themselves too.
Ohmygoodness, I loved this one! Maybe even more than I loved the first in the series ( The Military Wife ), though I can’t be 100% sure because I read that one 12 months ago, so…
(If you haven’t read the first book, no worries–the two really aren’t connected at all beyond having heroes who served in the military and taking place in the south. There were no other connections that I could see, but do yourself a favor and read them both! The order of reading is up to you :))
I adored Greer, Emmett, and Ally–they were wonderfully layered characters who honestly felt like they were my close personal friends by the time I was finished with the book. I wanted to hug them, cry with them, and yes, even give them well-deserved smacks upside the head occasionally. Mostly hugs, though. 😉
I liked that all three characters worked separately as well as together in order to figure out how to get their own lives back on track. Greer, of course, was initially the pain-in-the-butt instigator who wouldn’t let either Ally or Emmett wallow alone in their own misery, but they both called her out on her own bullsh*t and made her look at herself as well, taking responsibility for herself and creating a new future going forward.
There were so many LOL moments while reading this, so many awwwwwww moments, so many swoony ones… I teared up several times–not actual sobbing (this time), but it came close. The conversations between all of the characters, whether they were bantering, having a heart-to-heart, sniping at each other, or flat out not actually communicating, felt real.
And the chemistry between Greer and Emmett? Ah-maze-ing.
My only complaints? One is that Bonnie, the kitten that adopts Emmett, pretty much disappears by the end of the book. I mean, I know she was just the cutest plot device ever and just there to get his butt out of the house, but she still could have had more of a presence later on in the story. Yes, cats are independent souls, but they’re also massive pains in the butt and let their presence be known frequently during the day (especially when it’s dinnertime. And don’t forget five minutes after that, when their dinner has been inhaled and they’re once again starving, bless their hearts) and I was kinda sad that she just stopped showing up on the page.
Two is the “surprise” connection between Ally and Emmet–it just seemed conveniently, obviously inevitable. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked how that figuring out that specific bit of information gave their individual paths to healing the jump starts they needed; it’s just that it was almost too convenient, ultimately; especially since we don’t find out that information until almost the end, yet exactly when we needed to have it.
Neither of these are deal breakers; not even close. They’re not even that big of a deal, either one of them. Giving this 4 1/2 stars was never in question, and it’s more than deserved; I loved every minute of reading this book. And now I absolutely cannot wait for book 3 in the series; bring it on!
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A