This story warmed my heart from the first page until the last, and I was both contented and saddened when it ended. It was wonderfully written, and I felt really connected to the characters, so it wrapped up nicely. The author has a comfortable writing style that makes the read feel like a "cozy winter" read while also being drama-filled and engaging. While the story started off quiet, more and more things happened as the action picked up, so by the time I was reaching the end of the book, my mind had shifted gear and I was on the edge of my seat. As an inspirational romance, it was light on the intimacy, but the beauty of Misty Beller's writing is that you don't need that intimacy to feel the romance. It was a beautiful thing.
Laura Hannon and Nate Long have a troubled past. Nate was involved with a gang that kidnapped her, and although he tried to stop them from hurting her, things escalated and ended with her shooting his twin brother in the leg. Now they are all trying to heal from wounds, both physical and emotional, and ignore the attraction that has been blooming between Laura and Nate. Laura feels great guilt over injuring Nate's brother, and with their history, she knows nothing could ever happen between them. However, as things happen that force them together again and again, they realize that healing doesn't have to occur alone. Maybe together they can build something even better than what was there before.
Nate was a sweetheart, and I wish I had read the second book in this series to get more backstory on his participation with the gang. He seemed to be caught in the middle, between doing the right thing and supporting his brother, but when a woman became involved, along with the little boy she was in charge of, he drew the line. He had worked so hard to not only heal himself but also make up for the things the gang stole from others, which meant making his own shelter, hunting for food, and taking on a dangerous job to make more money. While I felt bad for him, I also was really proud of his strength and determination to right a wrong, especially a wrong that didn't seem to be his to own. Laura was a quiet yet strong-willed woman, and it was interesting to see both sides of her come out at different times. She wasn't loud or arrogant, and so when she spoke out, people listened to her. She truly cared for other people, even those who had done her wrong, and her compassion was endless. I loved when she and Nate worked together on a common goal, and his brother was a great antagonist throughout the story, providing another perspective that I think we could all understand.
Now that I realized I skipped a book, I will definitely be going back to read the second in the series. The first was amazing and easily an enjoyable read for all, as was this one.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**