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This was exactly the book I needed right now! Having been in a bit of a book slump for a few weeks, I was beginning to wonder if I would have another book to add to my Favorite Books of 2017 list, and I am happy to report that this gem is now on that list. It had everything that I love in a story - a scarred hero, a courageous heroine, cute dogs, and a love that surpassed all obstacles thrown in its path. Inspiring and heart-wrenching, it made me believe that while time may not heal all wounds, perhaps true love can.
Emma Cooper is homeless, broke, and in mourning. Following her mother's wishes, she sets out on a road trip to find a man named Aiden Sheffield, who is to accompany her to Linx, Texas to spread her mother's ashes. She expects to find suave casanova who her mother fell in love with years ago, but what she finds instead is a young veteran with scars inside and out, who throws up shields to keep others at a distance. His gruff demeanor doesn't phase Emma, especially when she sees how he treats the dogs with affection at the rescue where he works. Setting out on a reluctant journey to mark the end of her mother's time on this earth, they find something they didn't see coming: a love that will bring them full circle to face their pasts and build a future together.
While both Emma and Aiden created a story that will stick with me for a long time, Aiden was really the star of this book. His emotional journey brought up so many emotions in myself, as I sorted through which emotions were my own remembering of past hurts and which emotions were brought about through my empathy with Aiden. I wanted to climb right into the book and beat the crap out of his father, and eventually, I wanted to scream at Emma's mother for her part in Aiden's pain. I am a huge dog lover, having volunteered at several rescues over the years and grown up with dogs, and I can tell you - dogs are excellent judges of character. As soon as I saw how Aiden interacted with his "pack", I knew this would be a hero against which all future heroes would be measured. Here is a man who, despite all odds, managed to come out of trauma swinging and still have a heart. Emma was a beautiful soul, inside and out, who saw Aiden's true self buried beneath his scars. Once she was able to draw him out with patient compassion and humor, it was amazing to see his character blossom.
This is the first book I have read by this author, and it most certainly will not be the last. M.K. Schiller is a gifted storyteller with an insight into the human soul not often seen in modern literature. I would recommend this book highly to any one of my friends or family. It teaches great lessons of healing, love, and compassion.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**