I don’t know why I am even surprised anymore when I fall in love with another novel by this extraordinary author because it happens every single time, and I always end up walking away a total wreck, unable to pick up another book for days to come. An unexpected but truly phenomenal reading treat, this was a story I loved with all my heart, and even now, days after I first finished it, I am drawn to it again, aching for the characters, for more of their life journey, for more of that unique, exquisitely poignant feel a Jane Harvey-Berrick novel possesses beginning to end. This is a book I want to urge everyone to read, to drop everything and not wait another minute, because beautiful, inspiring stories like these are rare finds these days, and it baffles me why they are not on everyone’s lips when they truly deserve to be.
“What would it do to a person, living day in and day out surrounded by nothing but memories and hatred?”
Torrey Delaney does not believe in love. Her parents’ broken marriage and her mother’s subsequent abandonment when she was just a young girl have taught her that relationships are undependable, that hearts are expendable and that the only person she will always be able to rely on is herself. But while such a life mantra has protected her so far from heartbreak and disappointment, it has also caused her to act recklessly when picking her casual hook-ups, her latest affair finally driving her to leave her old life behind and to start afresh somewhere else. With limited resources at her disposal, however, Torrey is forced to make a small town on the gulf coast of Texas her temporary new home—the very town in which her estranged mother happens to be the local preacher. Perceived by everyone as the preacher’s trashy daughter, she does nothing to dissuade others of that opinion of her because it gives her the freedom to behave as she chooses…until she crosses paths with a young man who cannot escape what the whole town thinks of him as his every move is judged and condemned.
“I wouldn’t want a guy like me spending time with my daughter either.”
Jordan Kane has spent the last eight years of his young life serving a prison sentence for one careless act that cost him the life of his beloved older brother—the town’s golden boy. Now treated as the local pariah by everyone he once knew, Jordan is met with disdain and disgust everywhere he goes, but no one hates him as much as he hates himself for getting to live the life his brother never got to live. Alone and broken in a town that wishes he were dead, he struggles daily with the burden of his memories and his newly found freedom, clueless as to how to assimilate into a world that keeps rejecting him at every turn. Until an outspoken firecracker breaks through his defences and teaches him how to live again.
“In prison I’d kept to myself; out here, I didn’t know what the boundaries were anymore. It was a game of life where I didn’t know the rules and couldn’t work them out— and I was losing. Big time.”
A friendship born out of loneliness and curiosity soon becomes a powerful bond that neither of them can deny, or live without. But while Torrey struggles to recognise her feelings for the sad, broken man she is slowly falling for, for Jordan she represents everything he never dared to hope he would find in life, and everything he believes he will forever remain unworthy of. Torrey eases his despair, her no-nonsense attitude forcing him out of his self-imposed purgatory, and the more time they spend together, the more he no longer feels all alone in the world.
“If I could, I’d take you somewhere real upscale. There’d be a starched white cloth on the table, napkins folded into fancy shapes, and candles all around us. I’d order champagne and the best food on the menu. We’d eat and laugh and talk, and I’d take you dancin’ till dawn. Then I’d lay you down on soft sheets and love you till the sun was high in the sky.”
Living in a small town determined to never forget or let him forget his sins, however, remains a constant test for their budding romance, and while our hearts melt with delight as we watch them fall irrevocably and passionately in love with one another, they also break every time their love is met with hostility and intolerance. A story of forgiveness, of second chances, and of letting go of anger and self-hatred in order to be truly free to embrace all that life has to offer—a story like this is simply my favourite kind of reading escape. Confidently and eloquently written, addictive cover to cover, every emotional word of this oh-so wonderful tale stole my breath away and even though it was my undoing on more than one occasion, it left me with the goofiest grin on my face. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
“…the only thing I’d miss if I went back now would be you.”