A single call is all it takes to drive artist Ti Russo into what she does best. Run. But hey, lying low in a beach town for a while isn’t so bad. Thanks to the distraction of playing consultant to a guy she’s determined to crack, she can almost forget about the past stalking her back home. But she never counted on the real danger being a picket-fenced life she has no business falling for.
Focus and self-preservation have gotten single dad Drew Anderson through the last nine years. With the threat of his shop’s foreclosure jeopardizing his daughter’s health care, the last thing he needs is a distracting hippie chick swooping in to shake up what he’s fought to protect. Including himself. The bank’s deadline adds enough pressure without re-risking feelings better left buried.
But as sparks flare and secrets escalate, the race against time propels Ti and Drew into a choice neither’s ready to make: Find the faith to surrender their past or forfeit their only chance to begin again.
~ Excerpt ~
Ti shielded her eyes from the sun to read the overhead sign. Anderson’s Soundside Treasures. The woman in the café was right. If Ti looked for the building with faded shutters and zero curb appeal, she’d find Drew’s shop.
Chuckling, she shot a handful of takes with her camera and scrolled through the drab images. And Drew didn’t need her help? Please. Wait till I’m done with this place.
She withdrew her cell right as Drew strode though the door.
“Thought you were getting coffee.”
“Already finished it.”
“And found the place without any problems.” He tipped his head as if praising an accomplishment.
“Well, I managed to dodge the nonstop stream of beach cruisers and golf carts just fine. The brazen crab scurrying across the road, on the other hand, just about got me. Close call.”
Winking, she opened the voice recorder app on her phone and surveyed the property. “Storefront makeover. I’m thinking Grecian Isle colored shutters, decorative walkway, some kind of centerpiece.” She tapped the phone to her chin and studied a picture on her camera. “Ooh, a swi—”
“Sorry, what are you doing?”
She gave him a no-brainer look. “Taking notes. I told you, I study my projects before tackling them.”
Drew kneaded his shoulder blade like he was wrestling over what to say. “You really don’t have to go to a lot of trouble.”
Was he still worried about paying her? Ti set a reassuring hand to his sleeve. “I want to.”
His gaze gravitated to her fingers above his taut arm.
Can someone say tense? She brought her cell to her mouth while trying not to laugh at his awkward expression. “Owner’s uncomfortable with personal touch.”
That jaw-half-opened expression got her every time.
She raised a shoulder. “I take notes on my clients, too. Helps me know how to cater art pieces better.”
Drew’s voice caught up three blinks later. “I’m not a project.”
“You’re tied to one.” Ti jutted her chin at the pitiful looking storefront. “Trust me. You both could use some TLC.”
Drew followed her to the porch. “You haven’t even been inside yet.”
“Doesn’t matter what’s inside if you can’t draw anyone in to check it out. As if living on Back Street isn’t bad enough, you’re tucked away at the very end. Believe me, the outside’s your first problem to deal with.”
He stopped her at the door with another whirlwind of thoughts streaming past his eyes.
Unable to help herself, she raised her cell again. “Owner likes to brood.”
Drew chased her through the door on the heels of her laughter.
~ Review ~
Oh, this book! This book held me in its grip from the first chapter until the last. And what a rollercoaster of emotions to experience in between! I have fallen in love with many characters over the years, but Ti and Drew have definitely taken a prominent place in my heart. Their banter is some of the most enjoyable I have read in a long time, and their personalities burst from the page—even Drew’s moments of quiet tension and broodiness! They really were some of the most enjoyable characters I’ve ever spent time with!
Crystal Walton’s writing has always had depth and vibrancy, but I feel as though she’s really hit her stride with this novel. It was pitch perfect. And Ti and Drew weren’t the only characters to fall in love with, either. Drew’s daughter, Maddie; his brother, Cooper; Grandma Jo; they all added life and depth to this story. And I’m very excited to know that Cooper’s story will be next. There’s definitely a story waiting to be told there!
But despite the fun and laughter, there is some serious pain behind both the main characters—and a particularly dark story in the case of Ti. I appreciated that the author was able to convey the way this had affected the characters without dwelling on the circumstances any more than was necessary. For most of the novel it hangs in the background as a spectre, but I definitely shed a few tears in the latter half, as the characters worked through the emotional detritus holding them back.
This is a novel that manages to be full of life, love, and laughter, while hitting a deep emotional chord at the same time. It might only be the beginning of 2017, but I can safely say this will be one of my favourite contemporary romances of the year.
I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review.
Series: #2 Home in You
Release date: 8 February 2017
Publisher: Impact Editions, LLC
~ Other Books by Crystal Walton ~
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~ About the Author ~
Crystal received her bachelor of arts from Messiah College in PA, married her exact opposite in upstate NY, and earned her master of arts from Regent University in VA, where she currently resides with her husband, David. Crystal writes contemporary clean romance fueled by Starbucks’ venti green teas. She’d love to connect with you at http://crystal-walton.com.