This one sits solidly between three and four stars for me. Bybee’s a talented writer, so there were definitely elements that I enjoyed, but also several things that bugged me. It’s sweet and somber with a touch of suspense, featuring a hero who will steal your heart. He is almost too perfect, going from an acquaintance to a support system within the blink of an eye. My main complaint? While I loved that our heroine is overcoming a troubled past, it’s essentially the sole focus of the book. The heroine’s abusive ex is a part of the story from start to finish… and they’re not even divorced. That’s where this one tripped me up; I wanted to experience more of the good times instead of just focusing on the past.
The story follows Erin, a woman on the run from her almost-ex-husband. After taking his abuse for too long, she’s started a new life for herself and has become a new woman. Though Erin has sworn off all men – her husband refuses to agree to a divorce, after all – she’s got a crush on a sexy firefighter. Matt’s always been a casual kind of guy, but he can tell that Erin would be worth fighting for, if only she’d give him a chance. When circumstances bring these two closer, it’s not long before Matt becomes someone Erin can lean on, and that’s exactly what she needs in her life.
My favorite part of the story was Matt, without question. He is SUCH a great guy, so focused on helping Erin. He’s patient, loving, and kind… and I really wish we got more of his story. Erin is definitely the star here, so Matt comes off as being a little one-dimensional – almost too good to be true. There was absolutely the potential for something great in the story, but it just felt very somber and a little depressing. The overall tone is kinda heavy with some triggering content, before switching into a suspenseful read. So while I liked elements of the book, there were also plenty of things that left me feeling disconnected. I received an ARC via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving a review of this serious romance.
A brave woman’s flight from the past leads her toward new love in a novel about courage, hope, and second chances by Catherine Bybee, New York Times bestselling author of My Way to You.
After Erin Fleming escapes from her controlling and abusive ex, she finds refuge in the heart of Santa Clarita, California. Eager to start over, she has a new name, a new look, and a new career. Settled into a private guesthouse, Erin can breathe free. Far from the shadows she’s outrun, Erin is finally learning to live for herself. Her new unexpected friendship with her landlord starts to crack open the armor Erin’s enclosed herself in. But it’s Matt who speeds up the pace of Erin’s heart and makes her wish for things she believes she can never have.
Matt Hudson, a firefighter in one of California’s wildfire epicenters, has a passion for danger. He lives for the adrenaline rush his profession awards him. But his protective instincts take over once Matt meets Erin. So does an attraction he can’t deny. Above all else, he’s determined to prove to Erin that she can trust him. As the sparks between them ignite, so does a real-world danger. Erin’s past is not letting go. It’s just in hiding.
Before Erin’s ex finds her, she and Matt have to find him. And finally put an end to everything that’s becoming a threat to their love, and to Erin’s life.