Title: Close to Home
Author: Lily Everett
Series: Sanctuary Island #5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Available: 7th Feb
The best journeys take us home….
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?
Source: ARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley
I’m a big fan of second chance romances and I also love reading stories that tackle life after marriage, but somehow – and I’m still not entirely sure why – this book lost me along the way. It started off well, with Johnny coming back to his real life after so long undercover to find that his wife was gone. So he went after her and… well, there was something about Tessa that I couldn’t quite warm to. I understood her need for independence, but the way she went about it was pretty hard on Johnny and half the time it wasn’t independence she was clinging to so much as stubbornness.
I found Johnny a lot easier to like and sympathise with. He’s a protective kind of guy and once rescued Tessa from a bad situation. Yes, his view of her does need to be updated because she’s clearly not still the waif he originally married, but at least he’s willing to try. He’s a loyal man who has every intention of honouring his marriage vows, even if he isn’t the best at opening up about his hurts. He’s a good man and I liked him, despite his bouts of over protectiveness.
I don’t know why I didn’t like Tessa as much. Part of it is the way she ran away from Johnny and continues to push him away because, boo hoo, he doesn’t lover he like she loves him and she needs to be independent now, so long, thanks for the memories. She doesn’t even seem to want to try when Johnny wants to patch up the cracks in their marriage. I just didn’t have much patience for her, to be honest.
And I never felt any chemistry between them. They have a lot of history together, so I could see why Johnny didn’t want to let that go, but I could never see why they loved each other. Well, I could understand Tessa since Johnny had been her hero for so many years, but since she didn’t want him doing anything for her anymore… yeah. I struggled with the romance.
This was probably not helped by the secondary romance that runs alongside this one, setting things up for the next book. I liked secretive Marcus and his gruff, grumpy ways, but Quinn really got on my nerves. Perky and pushy people are not my favourites to read about, especially when they’re riding roughshod over other people’s wishes.
So overall this was an okay read for me. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read all of the previous books, but mostly I struggled to remain interested in the characters for the whole book and I wasn’t as invested in seeing them overcome their problems as I would have expected. On the strength of this read I’m not sure I’d be interested in trying the rest of the series, but since I’ve already been offered the next one for review, I guess I’ll try again and see how I feel after that.
Close to Home is out February 7th.
Visit Lily Everett for more details.