Close to Home (A Sanctuary Island Novel) by Lily Everett (Amazon link)
Rating: Very Good
Description: When Tessa Alexander came to Sanctuary Island, she left behind a marriage to a man who didn’t love her the way she loved him. When she finally found the strength to set them both free, she discovered friendship and self-acceptance in her adopted hometown. Now she’s settled into a quiet life on her own—never expecting to see her husband again.
Johnny spent almost two years deep undercover, unable to let his wife into his cold, dangerous world. He’s shaken to the core when he comes home to find her gone. It’s painfully clear that Tessa is no longer the timid young woman he married—she’s become a force of nature, a brave and determined beauty. Johnny can’t let her go without a fight so he sets out to seduce his own wife. But will passion alone be enough to convince Tessa that her new life should include a second chance at happiness with a man who must learn to believe in love?
Genre: Romance - Contemporary
Why I Picked This Book: I enjoyed the first book in the Sanctuary Island series and wanted to read more.
My Impression: After reading some dark mysteries I found myself craving a romance - preferably something sweet and simple and healing. Well this one was definitely sweet and it was definitely healing but I'm not so sure how simple it was. These characters have some serious depth and some serious issues that have to be tackled as the story goes along.
The story itself reminded me of a historical romance - one where the husband in a marriage of convenience realizes that he's actually in love with his wife. This is one that I wouldn't have thought would work in a contemporary but Everett did it brilliantly. This was made sense and held together and was a completely plausible situation for both of these characters with their particular personalities to end up in. At the beginning I was very concerned about the balance of power. Tessa is very young and completely desperate when she and Johnny get married. Johnny is young (though not as young) and is far more in control of the situation. It could have very easily slipped into creepy territory and it was a relationship that I really couldn't see how it could get past the beginning. How could it ever be a relationship not built on gratitude and desperation?
I really loved the way Everett developed their relationship in such a way that the reader got to know the characters as they got to know themselves. It completely pulled me into the story and I absolutely flew through it. She was brilliant with the addition of side characters - especially Marcus and Quinn. They're the main couple in the next book and after meeting them in this book I cannot wait to read their story and read more about them.
This is only the 2nd Sanctuary Island book I've read but I had no problem getting to know the community and I didn't feel like I was missing out by not reading the previous books (though you can bet they'll be on my TBR). This was a fantastic read with characters I really connected with, a setting I want to see more of, and a lot of heart. My only complaint is that I seriously want a sticky bun after reading about the treas Miss Patty and Tessa are working on!
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes! I'm really looking forward to starting the next book in the series!
Would I Recommend this Book?: Absolutely! I think most contemporary romance fans would enjoy this series - particularly fans of Emily March's Eternity Springs series.