by Arianna Hart
Home is where his heart can heal. Former Navy SEAL Grant Anderson failed to see the IED that took his lower leg and couldn’t fix the cracks that ended his marriage. Embarrassment kept him from returning home to Dale, Georgia, after his discharge. But with his father ill, his family needs him. One of the first friendly faces he encounters is Ellie Hall. The gawky little girl next door now has curves that shouldn’t make his mouth water. She deserves a hero, not a broken man. Ellie can’t remember a time when she didn’t have a crush on Grant. Now if she could only get it through Grant’s thick skull that she doesn’t need to fear him. As they work together to straighten out his family business, holiday fireworks aren’t the only thing making Greg sweat. But by the time they uncover why the figures aren’t adding up, Greg must rely on pure instinct to keep Ellie safe from danger—and pray that this time, he won’t fail. Warning: Contains a wounded warrior who’s his own worst critic, and a determined heroine who’ll take the whole package as is. While not a series, this story takes place in the same fictional world as Son of a Preacher Man.
I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story. It seemed pretty straightforward – a mixture of tropes that I like (PTSD, returning hero son, childhood crush, popular boy/unpopular girl, a mystery) – but Hart brought great emotion and depth to the story. Some people might get a little tired of Grant’s hot and cold attitude, but it definitely makes sense and works well with the man and the relationship. I have a pretty low threshold for that kind of thing but I think it worked well here.
I really liked Ellie. She’s so caring and smart and out of her element with the oh-so-sexy Grant. When she lets herself go for it though … perfecto! The fact that she’s had a crush on him for years just adds that bit of extra umph to her issues. Grant is great too. He’s dealing with a lot – the loss of his leg and his marriage, not being a SEAL and moving home again. It’s a lot to take but when he discovers a sexy, smart, somewhat complicated woman living in his parents’ garage … things just got more interesting. The two of them together are a riot! I also loved Grant’s parents and their friends. They aren’t overly quirky like you sometimes get in small town Southern towns but there is a great mix of personalities that make you just want to move to Dale so you can call them friends.
There’s also some intrigue about what is going on at the family store, which adds a little extra drama to the story and helps Grant find a sense of purpose he needs in coming home. It also gives him a reason to hang out more with Ellie, which he takes full advantage of – he’s no dummy!
I will say that even though I don’t think it is a requirement to have read Son of a Preacher Man there are enough references to the characters and events from it that I think it might help give readers some additional depth to the story. If you are like me and joining here, you’ll be fine but you’ll probably be like me and add the other book to your TBR pile 🙂