Abby Williams lost her husband—and the future she envisioned—to a roadside bomb in a foreign land, so a kitchen fire is no big deal. When the local firemen show up to put out the blaze, the army widow finds herself attracted to one hot volunteer firefighter…until she realizes it’s Justin Donovan, a man five years her junior.
Justin has long carried a torch for Abby. But after she got married ten years ago, he put her out of his mind, left Ardent Springs for Chicago, and got a job as a real estate developer. Now he’s back—for reasons he’d rather not share—and he wants to prove to Abby that age is nothing but a number. Will Abby’s reluctance and Justin’s secrets extinguish any attempts at romance? Or will the sparks between them ignite a second chance at love?
Abby and Justin were an adorable couple–I liked the older woman/younger man twist (only 5 years, though–definitely not insurmountable when the couple in question is late 20s/early 30s) and the fact that he had a major crush on her while in his late teens–too sweet! The fact that he’s a volunteer firefighter now definitely doesn’t hurt, either (and OMG, the description of the firefighter bachelor auction at the beginning? Fabulous!) I really loved that Abby was able to (eventually, of course, after the appropriate amount of relationship angst and a suitable black moment) move on to a second relationship after losing her solider husband without diminishing her first marriage. (If you follow my reviews at all, you’ll know that having to demonize the first–dead–spouse or make their relationship somehow less-than in order for a hero/heroine to commit to a new one is a huuuuuge pet peeve. Okay, yes, sometimes that will be the case. But all too often in romance it’s a crutch, a convenient way to get the surviving spouse to more easily put their first marriage in the rear view mirror and get on with the second, clearly superior, one. C’mon, people. We can do better.)
Though there were times that things happened abruptly–Abby changing her mind about the age difference after being so resistant was pretty sudden, as was when she decided that Justin had been less than honest about breaking up with his fiancee–overall there was a lot more to like here than to criticize. And even though Abby’s “the last in love” of her friends in Ardent Springs, her story worked just fine as a standalone.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go add books #1-4 to my TBR…
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.