by Lily Everett
Series: Sanctuary Island #5
Published on February 7, 2017 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romance
The best journeys take us home….
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?
Book Depository Amazon Barnes & Noble
I have to say, this is the first time I’ve read a romance where the main characters were already married before the book began. Typically all these romances end in marriage so it was interesting to see Everett tackle the during-marriage aspect of this estranged couple.
Johnny Alexander comes back from a top secret mission to find his wife left him. Bummer, right? I mean, it was a marriage to protect her with little else involved in the couple sense so can’t blame her. The woman in question, Tessa, finds a home on Sanctuary Island, in a little town where everyone knows everyone. So sure, Johnny is going to try and get his wife back but here lies the biggest part of this story and the one aspect I just never fully believed.
So Tessa had a messed up childhood and Johnny saved her…by marrying her so she could share in the health benefits. Eight years they’re together and they act like roommates before Tessa finally grows a backbone and leaves. But who does that? The whole reason for the marriage just seemed so outrageous to me, plus adding on almost a decade of living together and nothing?
Add in the romantic subplot of two OTHER characters that is clearly setting up for the next novel and I’m not just invested as a reader. There were enough scenes of just Marcus and Quinn (the two in question) that I wondered whose story Close to Home really was. Plus the ending seemed to come right out of left field just to give the story a bit of a mysterious, suspenseful edge but ended up falling flat because the build-up just wasn’t there.
I looked forward to seeing the struggles Tessa and Johnny went through as a couple because it isn’t the usual dynamic of two people finding each other, but instead two people trying to understand the other. I expected to see more romantic struggles but instead everything was told and half the book focused on Marcus and Quinn.
Yes, I get that setting up for the next book in the series helps but I don’t need so much time devoted to their romance because, frankly, I found it far more interesting than Tessa and Johnny’s. I cared more about Quinn than Tessa, wanted to know more about Marcus’s background than Johnny’s. Don’t give me two couples to ship because I’ll pick the one I like most and it definitely wasn’t the ones of this particular story.
I was honestly just disappointed with this book. It was…boring. All the tension from the characters’ backstories was lost in the author telling the story, not showing. There was too much of a disconnect between me and the characters.
Now I did look and it appears that while the previous four books are set in the same place, they don’t really impact reading this book so you can likely read Close to Home more as a standalone but with the next book you may want to read this one first for Marcus and Quinn’s story. Which I’ll be reading. Because I liked them more.
Oh contemporary romances, why can’t we get along better?