~ About the Book ~
There are two basic types of people you’ll come across in small towns. Planters have the land in their blood and want to stay forever. Dreamers long for the day they will finally escape. Holly Christian? Definitely a planter. She’s never considered leaving for greener pastures, but it’ll be a whole lot easier to move forward when people finally stop telling her that will never happen. Thank goodness she has an ally in Hunter Pearce. He has no desire to leave now that he has what he’s always wanted. Well…almost. The words he can’t take back are still clinging closer than a humid summer afternoon.
Then there’s Gatlin Moore, who leans more in the dreamer direction. He used to imagine a future away from his hometown, but circumstances changed his plans long ago. Now he can’t stop thinking about bringing some of his dreams back to life, namely the ones that involve Brooke Langdon. Breaking up in their small town was hard, but getting back together might prove impossible. She may not be around long, unless she rediscovers what she used to love about the place. Putting her future in order by piecing together the past could mend her heart…or break it for keeps.
Welcome to Hope Canyon. This is our backroads story.
Series: #2 Backroads
Release date: 3 October 2017
~ Excerpt ~
It’s not your problem to fix.
His mom’s words rang through Hunter Pearce’s ears as he pried a board from the dock with a crowbar. He knew she was right, but like most problems he came across, he certainly felt like he owned it. Not to mention the fact that his rear end had been on the dock when it sank.
Grabbing the brim of his cap, he swept it off and brushed his forehead against his T-shirt sleeve, wishing he’d thought to bring a cold drink.
He’d never fixed a dock before, but that hadn’t stopped him when he began tackling the problem two nights ago. A few quick Internet tutorials and he was practically an expert. The broken pilings he replaced first, followed by reinforcing the others by wrapping them in sleeves. Shoring up the underpinnings, his dad had said when he’d given him the details.
The sound of an engine interrupted his thoughts, and he peered over at the driveway in time to see Gatlin put his truck in park and throw open his door. Hunter didn’t watch him walk over, instead prying up another board, listening to the squeak of the nails sliding through the wood.
“Something in my gut told me you’d be here,” Gatlin said, extending a cold water bottle in Hunter’s direction.
Hunter reached out and took the bottle in his hand, pressing it to his forehead as a bead of moisture slipped down the side of his face. “You ought to have that gut thing checked out. Sounds serious.” He twisted the bottle cap, taking a big sip before he set the bottle on the ground. “What’s with the water?”
Gatlin stared at the pond, twisting his mouth to the side. “Funny thing. Mom tossed out all my beer.”
A laugh slipped from Hunter before his mind could tell him to stop. Even after he had it under control, he found himself bringing the back of his hand up to his nose as he attempted to stifle another chuckle. “Got to be disappointing when your mom takes your stash.”
“Shut up. It’s not like I couldn’t run over to The Filling Station and get a case or something.” Gatlin took a deep breath, slowly exhaling as he kicked at a rock by his boot. “She said I’ve been drinking too much. Suppose that’s the truth, although she could have said it without wasting the ten bucks’ worth I had in the fridge.”
“Sorry,” Hunter said, finally bringing the tail end of his laughter under control. “You have it rough.”
Gatlin shook his head. “Naw man, I have it easy. My mom cooks for me, does my laundry. So what if she tosses my beer? I’m not gonna cross her.” He half-smiled as he glanced at Hunter. “That don’t mean I didn’t drive over here because I needed a little break. Looks like you already did a lot of work.”
“I was trying to finish it up before Holly came back over here. Didn’t want her to see it like that, you know?” Hunter pried up another board and Gatlin bent to grab it, flinging it into the grass.
“Yeah, I’m a little afraid of Holly too. When she gets on one of her tears—Lord help us all.”
Hunter stopped working, straightening to stretch his back muscles as he narrowed his eyes at Gatlin. “I’m not afraid of Holly.”
Gatlin tilted his head and stared over at Hunter, his lips barely tipping up on one edge.
Rubbing his hand across his face, Hunter dropped his head. “Okay, so I’m a little scared of Holly.” A grin crossed his features as he began to pry up another board. “What’s said here doesn’t leave the two of us, right?”
Gatlin gave a quick nod. “Sure, pond rules. Same as always.”
Hunter tossed the crowbar into the grass, reaching a hand up to grab the back of his neck. “Holly and I have a date tomorrow night.”
Filling his cheeks with air, Gatlin blew out slowly like a deflating balloon. Without saying a word, he knelt and picked up a nail from the dirt, rolling it between his fingers.
“Silence,” Hunter said, shaking his head. “That must be bad.”
Gatlin shrugged, his forehead wrinkling as he pinned Hunter with a stare. “Listen man, you do what you gotta do.”
“You think it’s a mistake.”
“Does it matter what I think?” Shoving the nail into his pocket, Gatlin walked over to the grass and picked up the crowbar. “I think you’ve had your eye on Holly for a long time. I think Holly’s been conflicted about you and Chad for a long time. But you and Holly—that won’t be a picnic, Hunt.”
“So everyone sees it then?”
“You know I tend to notice things other people miss.” Gatlin shoved the crowbar under the side of a piece of lumber. “I haven’t heard anyone gossip about you and Holly. You go out in public together, though, and they will. You’ll be all anybody talks about.”
~ Review ~
Mercy me, this book! All the heart-eyes, all the feels! I felt this story all the way to my marrow, and to top it all off, I have a whole new appreciation for eating strawberries!
Life might look simple on the surface when you drive through Hope Canyon, but relationships can get pretty tangled in a small town. At least, that’s the experience for Holly, Hunter, Gatlin, and Brooke, who are trying to untangle themselves from the past in order to step forward into the future. If you want to appreciate just how tangled they’ve become, you’re best off reading Written in the Stars before picking up this book, but it will be well worth your time. These characters are so real you can feel the flannel of their shirts!
We get to see more of Hunter and Gatlin in this novel, and they’re very different guys in terms of their personalities. Hunter is circumspect and reserved (a ‘still waters run deep’ kind of guy), whereas Gatlin wears his heart on his sleeve and tends to be more impulsive (a ‘match waiting to be lit’ kind of guy). Even so, they both had me laid out on my swooning couch and fanning vigorously at various points in this story. And I’m not just referring to kisses (although *ahem* there were those!) I’m talking about the heart and soul that comes across in their words and their actions, particularly around Holly and Brooke.
With Hunter it was the blend of understated intensity and tenderness, the gestures that accompanied the simple, heartfelt words he so often felt were inadequate (but melted me on the spot). And he’s such a down-to-earth, honest, hard-working guy. He’s taken up residence in my heart forever! With Gatlin, it was the fact that his heart was always on his sleeve and he didn’t hold back. Although that goes for anger and pain as well as romance, so look out! The fireworks aren’t all happy ones, but hoo-ee does he know how to set them off!
This is seriously one of my all-time favourite reads. Christina Coryell is a master at creating authentic and original characters and bringing them to full-colour, 3D life on the page. Her stories get under your skin, and you turn the last page with a full heart, despite having just said goodbye to your newest best friends.
I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Other Books in the Series ~
Read my review for Written in the Stars.
Check out the Character Spotlights for Holly & Brooke, or Hunter & Gatlin.
Check out this interview with Christina Coryell at Reading is my Superpower.
Check out this author spotlight with Christina Coryell at Faithfully Bookish.
~ About the Author ~
USA Today bestselling author Christina Coryell was born and raised in southwest Missouri, where she lives with her husband and children. She had plenty of people tell her that her degree in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing would be useless. They were probably right. Added to her dual major in History, she became the least likely candidate for nearly every career on the planet, save being a writer. That suits her just fine.
Christina has written from the back hatch of an SUV, in a lawn chair while at soccer practice, in the front seat of her car, with kids climbing on her, and often with extremely loud noise in the background. At least half of her books have been written during baseball games.
She believes great fiction mirrors life, and great life contains a little humor, so it’s difficult not to sprinkle a little funny business throughout her work. Oh…and character is everything.