Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Love to Call Her Own - Marilyn Pappano (Forever - Sept 2014)

Series: Tallgrass (Book 3)


It's been two years since Jessy Lawrence lost her husband in Afghanistan, and she's never fully recovered. Drowning her sorrows didn't help, and neither did the job she'd hoped would give her a sense of purpose. Now trying to rebuild her life, she finds solace in her best friends, fellow military wives who understand what it's like to love-and lose-a man in uniform . . . and the memory of one stolen night that makes her dream of a second chance at love.

Dalton Smith has known more than his fair share of grief. Since his wife's death, he revels in the solitude of his cattle ranch. But try as he might, he can't stop thinking about the stunning redhead and the reckless, passionate night they shared. He wasn't ready before, but Dalton sees now that Jessy is the only woman who can mend his broken heart. So how will he convince her to take a chance on him?

Good story of second chances and new beginnings. We saw a lot of Jessy in the previous book, A Man to Hold on To, where she is struggling to deal with death of her husband, mostly by drinking away the pain and sleeping with strange men. One of those encounters still haunts her. She got fired from her job at the bank, and knows she has to do something to pull herself out of the pit her life has become.

Dalton has been dealing with his own losses. Most notably was the death of his wife in the war. Everyone believes she died a hero, but he's haunted by the fact that she chose to die rather than come back to him. He's also still bitter about the way his twin brother had left years ago. So he copes by focusing on his ranch and avoiding people. However, he can't forget the night he spent with Jessy. The revival of feelings he'd forgotten makes him believe he's ready to start living again.

I really liked Jessy. Once she hit rock bottom, she knew she had to make changes and she was determined to do so. The first thing was to quit drinking. I loved the realism of seeing what a struggle it was for her, hour by hour and day by day. I did wish that she had confided in her margarita sisters sooner, as their support would have helped. But she has some pretty bad self-esteem issues, and she was really afraid that they would judge her. She's also embarrassed every time she sees Dalton, remembering her actions of that night. As many problems as she has, she is a really nice person with a soft heart. I loved seeing her step in to help Patricia, a new widow, when she could just as easily have looked away. She's always there when her friends need her. I also really liked seeing her get so involved with the animal shelter. It was sweet to see how she bonded with Oliver. 

I also really liked Dalton. He has a hard road dealing with his grief over Sandra, especially considering the secret he is keeping about her death. He is fully eligible to join the Tuesday Night Margarita Club as a spouse of a deceased veteran, but as a guy doesn't really feel comfortable with it. In a previous book, A Hero to Come Home To, he had connected with Dane, which helped some. Their developing friendship has begun the process of bringing him back into contact with people. 

I liked seeing Dalton and Jessy get together. Things were a little awkward at first, with the memory of that one night between them. I liked that they both owned up to their own parts in it, without blaming the other. Once they got past that initial awkwardness, they agreed that they wanted to see what might be there between them. I loved seeing them take the time to get to know each other, resisting the urge to give in to the heat that was still there. Once they did, I loved seeing the rapid progression of their feelings. Jessy began to feel that maybe she really did deserve to be happy, that she wasn't as big a screwup as she had thought. Dalton allowed himself to trust again. There are still some challenges to their relationship, including his mother's reaction and the unexpected arrival of Dalton's twin brother. I loved the ending, as Jessy stood up to her worst fears and refused to give in to them. I loved Dalton's reaction, and what he said in return.

There was also a secondary story going on with another one of the margarita sisters. Lucy dealt with her issues by eating, which created a whole new set of problems for her. She is a neighbor of Patricia's and is there to help her through the stress of dealing with her husband's death. Lucy also takes it upon herself to contact Patricia's estranged son, and guilts him into coming to Tallgrass to help his mother. Ben isn't happy about it at first, but the longer he's there, the closer he and Patricia get to mending their relationship. Lucy is interested in Ben from the beginning, which motivates her to make some changes in her life. Ben becomes more intrigued by Lucy as the days go on. I enjoyed their interactions and am looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

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