Title: Stardust Valley
Author: T.L. Haddix
Series: Firefly Hollow #9
Genre: Contemporary Romance
This is Noah’s story. He loves Sophie, has since he was a seventeen-year-old kid, but thanks to a manipulative troublemaker and because he’s a stubborn Campbell man (or so his female relatives keep telling him), it takes him a while to figure his feelings out and do something about them. Like more than ten years. Also, did I mention that he’s an introvert who happens to be a medium? Who comes from a long line of people with abilities that “normal” folks don’t have, like shape-shifting? Yeah, there’s that.
Then there’s Sophie. She’s been beat up pretty harshly by life through the years, including the crushing heartbreak that came about during Noah’s feud with his brother when they were all teenagers. She’s a lot less trusting than she used to be and with good reason. But she’s never forgotten her feelings for Noah or been able to put them aside no matter how much she’s wanted to over the years.
Now that life and circumstances have thrown them together, a clash is inevitable. A clash that starts one day with a stolen kiss and leads them both down a road they never thought they’d be traveling again.
Source: Review copy via NetGalley
I discovered the Firefly Hollow series in the last book, Snapdragon Way, which not only introduced me to the marvellous Campbell family, but to both Noah and Sophie as well. So even though most of the books in this series are intended to stand alone perfectly well, I feel like these two books do need to be read together – not least because Noah’s story started in the last book, while Eli’s finishes in this one. So don’t be intimidated by the big number 9, but do be aware that for maximum enjoyment of this book you might want to take a look at the last one first.
Now, with that out of the way, this book is adorable and enjoyable and sweet and felt good for my heart. Both Noah and Sophie have deep emotional hurts and something broke in each of them that long ago day, when he was seventeen and she fifteen and so may good things were shattered by a spiteful whisper, a foolish announcement and a bitter fight. But now that Eli has returned home and things are starting to heal between him and Noah, it’s time for the real truth to come out.
But unlike Noah, whose worst wounds were inflicted that day, life has not been kind to Sophie. She’s such a nice woman, kind and giving and sweet, yet life has been exceedingly cruel to her time and again. It’s very easy to see why she finds it so hard to trust and doesn’t want to go back and try again, but likewise it makes it so wonderful when she finds herself in the middle of the Campbell family, unable to escape their bonds and ties even if she wanted to. Not that she’s weak or pitiful – she definitely has her own quiet strengths, which she uses to good effect when it comes to Noah.
Ah, Noah. Yes, he’s had a heavy burden to carry throughout his life, but I have to admit there were times when I wanted to smack him on the back of the head and tell him to stop wallowing. He uses his introverted nature as an excuse to dwell on the bad things that have happened to him, while rarely attempting to look at things from another point of view. Until Eli fills him in on a few important details, of course. It does take him a while to accept that his view of Sophie is wrong, but when he does… oh, then he fulfills his potential. The quiet, certain, strong way he loves her is lovely.
Which sums up this whole book for me: it’s lovely. The romance is steady and deep, the characters are well-rounded and complicated and the entire Campbell family is meddlesome and wonderful. I loved getting to see more of Eli and how his own relationship with Noah continues to change and evolve, while Fig the cat is simply gorgeous. I also enjoyed the paranormal elements, which wove quite naturally in amongst everything else and made me more convinced than ever that I have to catch up on the rest of this series soon.
If you’re looking for something enjoyable, containing a full family saga and a romance that is about a deep and abiding kind of love, then I definitely recommend this book, and since it’s the second one I’ve enjoyed this much, I’d say give the whole series a go. I intend to.
Stardust Valley is Out Now!
Visit T.L. Haddix for more details.