Title: Close To Home
Author: Lily Everett
My Rating: B
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Sanctuary Island #5
Main Characters: Tessa and Johnny
Release Date: February 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy
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?
Wow, the setup for this book was fantastically creative. I loved that first third of the book. The premise is that Johnny is on his way home after 2 years undercover for the DEA, but instead of finding his wife, he finds divorce papers. She's been gone for a year and he's devastated. But the twist is that they've never had a normal marriage...or a real marriage at all...at least in her eyes. But he isn't ready to give her up, so he chases after her.
Johnny and Tessa have been married for ten years, but they truly know very little about one another. He's been either deployed with the military or running undercover operations in the states that entire time. He stayed away. It was better that way. He couldn't be tempted by Tessa if he wasn't around her. But what he's missed while he was gone was just how strong and independent she grew to be.
There is a ton about her backstory and emotions during all this in the story. Johnny's story seemed to be a little shallower. He's mentally fatigued after being undercover for so long, but it seemed like all of that should have gone a bit deeper. There's a ton of detail to the story, but I didn't quite connect with him as much as I felt I should have and I'm not sure why not. His only emotional connection is Tessa, so I never felt like he was a complete 3 dimensional character. He and Marcus have a thing going, but they never even had any moments where they bonded in any way. It just wasn't quite as "much" as I would have hoped. Instead there is a lot of flowery, inner monologue from both characters that I found myself skimming because it was a little over the top.
So, positives...fantastic setup with some interesting possibilities. Negatives...the follow through fell a little bit flat...in my opinion. BUT it should be noted that most of the early reviews of this book aren't having that issue, so it could be just me connecting with these particular characters...which does happen. Regardless, Lily Everett is a fantastic story teller and the book is an easy, quick read. I do love this little island community.
And I should also mention Marcus and Quinn. They have a little side romance happening or at least building, that got blown all to hell at the end of this book. That sets up their story and I cannot wait, because I truly loved both their characters. I think that will be a fun book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.