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What I absolutely love about the stories Fiona West creates are how refreshingly original and relatable they are. While I have never personally been a drug addict or known someone who is, I know that the struggles they go through are real and valid, and it's nice to see someone who is recovering from their addiction shown in a positive way. What makes it even more unique is that the one person who allows him to find redemption is also the person that set him on the path to recovery by arresting him and getting him the help he needed. It shows the humanity that can exist when people show compassion and forgiveness towards each other. I wish more people were like this couple.
Officer Lizzie Painter doesn't handle social interactions well. She's a great police officer, she takes care of her grandmother while she lives with her, and she loves her yellow labrador, Pancake. But meeting strangers? Being emotionally available to friends and neighbors? Absolutely not. Which makes it all the more out of character when she begins exchanging letters with a man she once arrested - Chase Carpenter. Chase initially sent an email to Lizzie while in rehab, to thank her for arresting him and letting her know he's now in a successful rehab program. Lizzie doesn't normally keep in touch with those she's arrested, but there's something about Chase's letter that compels her to write back. Soon they become pen pals, going from acquaintances to true friends. But when Chase completes the program and moves back to Timber Falls, the dynamic shifts, and now Lizzie must confront her insecurities if she wants their relationship to work. It's early for Chase to be entering into a relationship with anyone, but Lizzie is special. When their worlds collide, things are messy. Love often is.
Chase and Lizzie were so adorable together. While they didn't appear in sync at first, I soon realized that they actually were very much in tune with each other's emotions and ways of being that most people might miss. Chase doesn't push Lizzie, even though he desperately wants to maintain their friendship and possibly develop something more. He recognizes that she's shy, which is frankly an understatement, and he does everything he can to make her feel comfortable with him. He begins writing her letters again, keeping a distance between them since in person makes her nervous. When circumstances change and they are thrown together, he respects her need for space while also ensuring that he can be there if she needs him too. Lizzie, poor thing, I just wanted to give her a hug for most of the book. She was so insecure about herself, because she didn't fit in with society's expectations, and she worried that Chase wouldn't like who she really is. I liked seeing her character open up over time, come out of her shell just a little and see her own value. Chase did that for her. Towards the end, trust is tested, and I was very sad to see them both struggle to get through what it meant for their relationship. It was hard for me, as someone not understanding addiction, to wrap my head around why what had happened was so wrong. I could see both sides, and it killed me to read how much pain they both felt. There was a HEA but it was not an easy road to get there.
I haven't read any other books in the Timber Falls series, so don't feel like you have to in order to enjoy this book! I certainly will go back and read them now. As always, very impressed by Fiona West's writing.
**I received a free copy from the author and this is my honest review.**