by Laura Trentham
When a police chief who craves stability meets a free-thinking, colorful college professor, neither anticipate the fireworks that light up the night…
After a mugging in grad school left her with an irrational fear of the night not even her PhD in psychology has helped overcome, Sadie Wren is sure she’s found an idyllic, safe place in Cottonbloom. When a break-in at her house shatters her sense of safety, gruff, protective Thaddeus Preston storms into her life. On the surface, they have little in common, but a loneliness she’s only too familiar with hides behind his infrequent smiles. But based on her knowledge of the human psyche, Sadie is convinced her infatuation with Thad will burn out as quickly as it flared.
As the Chief of Police of Cottonbloom, Mississippi, Thaddeus Preston maintains a strict control on everything in the small town—himself included. With an older brother serving time for a crime Thad committed when he was just a kid, he lives a life of penance, not allowing anyone to get close. When a reported lurker turns into a real threat, Thad is determined to restore order as quickly as possible and get back to his virtual jail.
But Thad’s brother gets out on probation just as Sadie and the town turns to him for protection. His tidy, barren life spins into chaos, and the only thing that makes sense is the one woman who shouldn’t.
I really don’t think the blurb gives Sadie enough credit … or maybe it’s just me that sees “free-thinking, colorful” and automatically thinks hippie 🙂 And she totally isn’t. Yes, she’s got dyed streaks in her hair and she’s a little (ok, a lot) more bubbly than the oh-so-serious police chief but she’s definitely not the wild child I thought she’d be. She’s smart, funny and a good foil for the taciturn man in uniform who comes to help her after a break-in.
Thad has put himself in his own kind of prison after his brother went to jail. They were both young and stupid and he hates that he’s free while his brother is in a cell. He’s turned himself into an all-business cop who doesn’t have a life outside of his job and no real friends to speak of. And women are definitely not in his orbit. Until he meets Sadie and she has him thinking about things he hasn’t in years.
I adored these two together. Thad is great at settling Sadie when her fears get too much. His steady, strong presence helps her calm down enough that her professional mind can help her work through her issues. On the other side, Sadie touches a part of Thad that he’s locked away and helps him find the man under the uniform. She brings out laughter and fun that he’s been missing for way too long.
My only complaint, and this is common for Threntham’s stories, is that I definitely didn’t get enough! Even her full-length books are over too soon so you know that her novellas, while complete and satisfying, will always need more pages. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing missing in the story – the characters are well-crafted and the plot is believable & thorough, I can’t help but want for more when something is this good! I’ll definitely be first in line when the next book comes out this summer knowing that Trentham just owns it at delivering the quirky small-town romance 🙂