This book was an absolute delight! I read the first book in the series and loved it, managed to miss reading the second book, and so I was a little worried I would be lost reading this one. However, it worked perfectly as a standalone, and I found myself falling in love with the characters and town all over again. This was a angst-filled tale of second chance romance, and I rode a roller coaster of emotions the entire time reading it. It was actually very surprising how much my emotions toward the hero changed throughout the story, almost right alongside the heroine. I was easily able to immerse myself in the story and felt time passing, experiencing the ache of lost love and regret. While there was a lot of frustration and heartbreak, the redemption that came from it was worth it. Not to mention the comedic relief of the adorable Houdini dog, Dory, whose escapades literally prevented the couple from staying away from each other. Matchmaker dog to the rescue!
It's been three years since Levi Jackson broke Elinor Rodriguez's heart, calling off their wedding and leaving her to pick up the pieces without explanation. While she would love to forgive and forget, it's hard to do when you live in a small town where your ex-fiance is the Chief of Police and you have an escape artist dog he keeps catching on the loose. The last thing Levi wants to do is bring more hurt to Elinor, but every encounter causes more pain for both of them. He can see that she's hurting and all he wants to do is what he's always done - protect her. After all, that's why he broke off their engagement. It was for her own good. Trouble is, he's never gotten over her, and even though he knows what he did was the right thing to do, he can't help wonder if they'll ever get back the friendship they once had. As they continue to be forced into each other's company, old feelings reignite, and they have a tough decision to make. Move forward as friends or take another chance on love.
I have to admit, at first I was absolutely against Levi given what he did to Elinor. I was absolutely in line with her sister Charlotte, who was adamant that Elinor move on and leave Levi in her dust. However, as the reader gets more of a glimpse into Levi and his motivations, it's a bit hard to hate him. Be mad at him, sure. I was totally mad at him for what he put Elinor through, and I needed groveling. Which thankfully, he did give...after a little therapy and self-awareness. That's something I really thought was well done in this book - the normalization of therapy and its benefits. Levi didn't realize how much his childhood, and his parents' marriage, affected his choices and how he approached his relationship with Elinor. It wasn't until he started really expressing his feelings and thoughts to a third party that he began to realize how much of a mistake he had made. So while I was upset that it took him so long to stop thinking he had done the right thing and finally realize what an idiot he had been, I appreciated that we got to see that character development. His journey in this book was fantastic. And Elinor - what a strong woman! She didn't just let Levi back into her life. She stood up for herself, recognized that some self-care was in order, and saw that she had flaws of her own. Her own journey was eye-opening for her, and it allowed her to see how all of her relationships were affected by her own past. It was such a wonderful story for both of them, and in the end, of course they got their happy ending, which made me all smiles and wishing there were more to read.
I am so excited for Charlotte's book next, and I sincerely hope she is paired with George. He was a really nice secondary character who I immediately took a liking to, and I think he is exactly what Charlotte needs. If I'm wrong, I'm sure Lizzie Shane will create an equally amazing hero. But I hope it's George!
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**