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Elisabeth Barrett’s Blaze of Winter is the story of two people trying to figure out if they are on the right path and if not where they should go from here.  Avery Newbridge, a social worker helping drug addicts, recently lost a patient and is staying with her aunt in the small town of Star Harbor while she decides if she can go back to work.  Theo Grayson is a best-selling author with writer’s block who has come home hoping the familiar place with help him with his new novel.  When the two meet their attraction is instantaneous, but does a romance make sense if their lives are going two different directions?

Theo is a fantastic hero.  He is smart, sexy, fun and has an obvious love for the town, his family and their friends.  He’s amazingly patient with Avery and therein lies my only real problem.  I didn’t quite get her issues with opening up to Theo.  The doubts about him leaving was easy enough to grasp, but she had some emotional issues that I didn’t quite get a good sense of … maybe it was stated at some point why she didn’t want to get involved with him and I forgot.  I’m not sure, which suggests that it wasn’t that clear.  I did like how Barrett made a point that she was getting counseling for her problem though.  A good choice to not have love heal everything.  I just wished I’d understood her a little more – her issues with her job and her doubts about whether she wanted to return were clear, but I just missed what was going on with Theo outside of his living in San Francisco.

Though Star Harbor is similar to Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor or Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold, it didn’t have quite the quirkiness and liveliness that these others do.  The supporting cast of characters wasn’t as fleshed out, keeping the story from having the same depth.  I do love all the Grayson brothers though.  They are a wonderful group, full of heart and fun, but also with their own secrets and demons.  I look forward to seeing more of them in future stories.

(This is Barrett’s latest in her Star Harbor series but it is definitely a book that can stand on its own.  There is a mystery surrounding a drug operation in the area that seems to flow through the series, but Barrett does a good job of giving you all the information you need to keep up.)