Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.
But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.
Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it.
As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?
The final installment of the Summer Harbor Series, I couldn’t wait to read Riley’s story. The first book in this series was my first Denise Hunter novel, and she easily won me over. Book two didn’t disappoint, so I had high expectations for book three (and high anxiety that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations).
Having seen bits of Riley’s character in the first two books, I had an idea of his and Paige’s relationship – he loves her but has never told her. Since we already knew that, I had hoped the author wouldn’t spend too much time on it, but the first half of the book prolongs the unending tension of Riley never sharing his feelings. That part really dragged on for me. I wanted the plot to move forward, not repeat more of Riley watching and longing for Paige. I understand the need to show Paige’s feelings develop, but it dragged on.
Once Paige accepts her feelings and decides to act on them, however, the story finally starts moving. She steps outside of her comfort zone, long-last family members come back, Riley starts to face his other demons – the second half (final third?) of the book felt more like the first two books, and it won me back. While it’s not my favorite of the series, the ending left me with the familiar warmth and happiness of the previous two books. A slow-starting but fun romantic read. Three out of five stars.
*I received a free copy of this book. The opinions are my own.