Title: Last in Love
Author: Terri Osburn
Series: Ardent Springs #5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Available: 30th May
Abby Williams lost her husband—and the future she envisioned—to a roadside bomb in a foreign land, so a kitchen fire is no big deal. When the local firemen show up to put out the blaze, the army widow finds herself attracted to one hot volunteer firefighter… until she realizes it’s Justin Donovan, a man five years her junior.
Justin has long carried a torch for Abby. But after she got married ten years ago, he put her out of his mind, left Ardent Springs for Chicago, and got a job as a real estate developer. Now he’s back—for reasons he’d rather not share—and he wants to prove to Abby that age is nothing but a number. Will Abby’s reluctance and Justin’s secrets extinguish any attempts at romance? Or will the sparks between them ignite a second chance at love?
Source: ARC from Montlake Romance via NetGalley
This book seemed to be full of people making unexpected decisions in some sharp and often baffling ways. Or fixating on small things, while missing the bigger picture altogether. Like Abby making such a big fuss over being older than Justin, completely ignoring the man in front of her. Or Justin doling out the truth of his past in tiny parcels out of some sense of wounded pride or hurt ego, and ignoring the fact that such behaviour leaves him open to huge misunderstandings. Then there’s the reaction of everyone who is supposed to love Abby, who also seemed incapable of supporting her decisions about anything, regardless of the facts before them. It just left me baffled at times and often angry and annoyed on behalf of the main characters.
Which is kind of how this book made me feel all over, really. I enjoyed it overall, but it also took a few turns that didn’t quite baffle me, but left me feeling less than enthused. Justin and Abby are both decent people struggling to adjust to recent upheavals in their lives. They get on well, have good chemistry and make a great team. Their relationship develops fairly quickly, especially considering Abby’s original resistance and some disapproval from friends and family. Then somehow Justin shifted into someone I didn’t like all that much.
I also expected a little more about Abby’s first marriage and her feelings towards her ex, and perhaps a bit more of a battle from Justin to get Abby to the point of accepting him. But that didn’t happen. They just fall fairly quickly into a serious relationship, despite his inability to open up about his past.
Which of course comes back to bite him in expected ways. And again, I was left a bit baffled by the way he reacts to Abby’s anger. I don’t know what I expected from him, but that wasn’t it. When the real fight for love begins, even though it was all for Abby in the big picture way, it didn’t really feel like that to me. What he does is as much about restoring his reputation at large as getting her back. Everyone seems pretty happy with the outcome, but for me it wasn’t the grand gesture I needed. Nor did it quite wrap up the few loose ends Justin had.
So overall this was okay. It didn’t win me over as much as I’d hoped when I started reading it, but I didn’t hate it either. There are plenty of recurring characters and locations to please existing fans of the series, but it also stands alone well enough for newcomers to enjoy. I just wish more people had been able to trust Abby to know her own mind, including Justin, and that they’d both fought as hard for each other as they seemed to do for everyone else.
The Last in Love is out May 30th.
Visit Terri Osburn for more details.