When Eli Campbell is discharged after an accident ends his career in the Army, he isn’t sure what kind of homecoming to expect. Shoot, he’s not even sure what kind of homecoming he deserves. He did a lot of stupid things as a teenager, and he made a lot of rash decisions that hurt several people.
Regardless, he’s determined to set things right with his family, particularly his brother Noah. So as dismayed as he is to be facing life with the unforeseen challenges related to his accident, he’s also grateful to have a second chance. A chance to make amends for all the damage he’s done. To prove to his family and to himself that he’s a better person, a good man.
When he meets Haley Buchanan, his physical therapist, he’s turned head-over-heels. With a heart-stopping smile, a kind nature that’s like a balm for his soul, and enough sass and backbone to enchant him, she represents another example of a second chance he’d never thought to have—a second chance at love.
Haley wasn’t expecting anyone like Eli to come along, particularly not as one of her patients. She’s not prepared for the longing and need he stirs up inside her, as her life is nothing approaching simple and uncomplicated at the moment. With the weight of her elderly, invalid grandfather’s care resting on her shoulders alone, she barely has room to breathe, much less fall in love.
Once the professional complications are out of the way, though, she finds herself drawn more and more to Eli, coming to rely on his stability and warmth in a way that she’d never expected.
“Snapdragon Way” is the eighth book in the Firefly Hollow series, Women’s Fiction Romances set in Appalachia. Fair warning – it isn’t a book that deals just with Eli and Haley’s budding romance and all the tangled complications that entails. It also focuses on the rebuilding of a devastated relationship between Eli and Noah, and how the brothers have to find common ground with each other before either of them can get on with other parts of their lives. It’s about second chances and homecomings, forgiveness and hope.
Source: Review copy via NetGalley
I really enjoyed this book, in fact I fell a little bit in love with many of the Campbells, but especially Eli and Noah. Because this book is about those brothers and their broken relationship every bit as much as it’s about Eli and Hayley. In fact Hayley doesn’t appear until several chapters into the book, by which time we’ve already got to know Eli and Noah fairly well.
Oh, Eli. If ever a man wanted a second chance, it’s this one. A rebellious teenage phase compounded by a disastrous marriage saw him estranged from the majority of his family for ten years, especially from his older brother Noah. The manipulative girlfriend from hell (later turned wife) did everything she could to drive a wedge between the brothers and sadly succeeded. I felt a bit bad for Eli in some of the flashback scenes, since it’s obvious he felt jealous of Noah and that he didn’t really understand why Noah was so “special”. It doesn’t excuse his behaviour or his actions, because he definitely said some terrible things, but boy did he pay the price.
As for Noah, without giving too much away, there is a slight paranormal element to this book that I wasn’t expecting. It completely works and explains so much about Noah, but if ghosts and having a touch of the Sight isn’t your kind of thing, then you might want to give this book a miss. Which would be a shame, because he’s lovely. Wounded, a little broken and very, very introverted, there’s so much promise in his character that I loved reading any scene he was in – especially when he and Eli truly start mending their relationship. The pair of them together was just wonderful.
There’s a lot going on in this book and a lot of characters to wrap your head around. This is my first taste of the Firefly Hollow series and I didn’t feel too adrift, despite the huge size of the Campbell clan. It might have been nicer to have fewer viewpoint characters at the start, but once things settled down I really enjoyed this. I loved that Eli’s recovery isn’t sugarcoated. He grieves, he struggles, but he comes through by working hard. I also really appreciated that he and Hayley’s relationship grows steadily. Their attraction might be swift, but neither of them are ready to rush into anything and she has her job to consider. It made a pleasant change to read about a “no fraternisation policy” being respected.
I really liked Hayley – as I did most characters in this book. She hasn’t had the easiest of lives, but she’s hardworking and goodhearted and her relationship with her grandfather was beautiful to read. It was also lovely to see the stealthy way the Campbells dragged her into their family. They’re a pretty irresistible bunch – poor Hayley didn’t stand a chance.
However, much though I enjoyed this book, there are some aspects which I wasn’t fond of. There are a few scenes that are recapped or even told in flashback that could as easily have been told in the story and I’m not sure quite so many characters needed to have POV scenes. I also found one particular aspect of the plot a bit too convenient in causing trouble, especially as it seemed to come out of nowhere.
Overall, though, this is a lovely, enjoyable family tale with a slow-build romance that definitely doesn’t cut any convenient corners or gloss over any issues. It’s about second chances, grief and rebuilding relationships, not to mention the protective love that is family. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be tracking down the rest of the series, while impatiently waiting for Noah to get his turn. T.L. Haddix definitely has a new fan.
Snapdragon Way is out September 29th!
Visit T.L. Haddix for more details.