I love Susan Mallery’s books and this one was further proof of what an amazing author she is. From the very first page, this book grabs your attention and won’t let go. I read it at the airport and was so drawn into the storyline that I almost missed my flight information! For fans, this book is a treat. For new readers, you will be a fan as soon as you start this one.
Michelle Sanderson has served her country well with three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq working in logistics. As a result, she has PTSD and a shot up hip. Now Michelle has returned to Blackberry Island to take over the Blackberry Island Inn which was left to her by her father. Michelle has always loved the inn and hopes to find some healing there. What she doesn’t expect is the amount of money the inn owes or the financial disaster that her mother left her. It will take all that Michelle has to not only face her past, but to heal mentally and physically.
One of the biggest thorns in Michelle’s ownership of the Blackberry Island Inn is the new manager, Carly Williams. Carly and Michelle used to be best friends, but their friendship shattered shortly after graduation and Michelle fled joining the Army. Carly now lives in the inn and has been managing it in the three months since Michelle’s mother died. Carly has her own past to cope with and a nine year old girl to raise. She needs her job at the inn, but doesn’t know if she and Michelle can work together after all they have both been through.
This story has romance in it and tells the tale of both Carly and Michelle finding men they can love and be loved by, but that isn’t the main purpose of this book. This book is more about healing and the difficult path that it can be to heal. Michelle must heal from the trauma of being in a war zone for years. She has to learn to trust again and to cope with what she has experienced. At the same time, she has to cope with all the drama from the past that is continuing to impact what her life is like now. She left ten years ago, but her problems remained. Carly and Michelle have to figure out if they can heal their friendship and whether or not they want to. Can the past mistakes on both their parts be forgiven or is the hurt too deep?
I really love the careful way in which Ms. Mallery explains and explores the return of a soldier to civilian life. She doesn’t shy away from the difficulties our returning Vets face or the realities of PTSD. I also like that she tackled the touchy subject of women in the war zone and the trauma they suffer. She handles this topic with respect and demonstrates just how difficult it is for people who have not been in a war zone to understand and support those returning from it.
I highly recommend this book. Yes, it deals with some weighty matters and topics, but the story itself is not heavy or depressing. There is a lightness to the story that shines through and a hopeful tone that resonates throughout the story.