Monday, May 29, 2017

"What Hope Remembers" by Johnnie Alexander

The Sullivan/Somers Misty Willow saga continues in What Hope Remembers, this time telling Amy Somers' story.

When you need a new beginning, sometimes the best place to start is home

When Amy Somers leaves her job as a lobbyist, she moves to Misty Willow, well aware that she's crossing bridges she'd burned years before. With all the mistakes she's made and the things she's done, she can hardly believe that happiness will find her--especially when Gabe Kendall, her first crush and her first kiss, rides back into her life atop a buckskin mare.

A former Marine, Gabe is at loose ends after serving a prison sentence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sees beyond Amy's hard exterior to the girl he once knew and loved, and he longs to see her open her heart. Yet with his vision clouded by shame for his past and fears about the future, it's difficult to see the path ahead.

But the memory of that long-ago kiss just may have the power to reignite a romance that brings out the best in both of them.

Author Johnnie Alexander has created a realistic, enjoyable world in her Misty Willow series, which focuses on the Sullivan grandchildren—AJ Sullivan, Brett Somers, and Amy Somers. AJ's and Brett's stories were told in Where She Belongs and When Love Arrives, and the focus shifts to Brett's sister Amy in What Hope Remembers.

I've read the first two book in the series, and I came into What Hope Remembers not liking Amy at all. Her vindictive, power-focused, promiscuous lifestyle completely turned me off to her as a character. Alexander certainly had her work cut out for her if she was going to make Amy into a character the reader could get behind, and I think that she semi-succeeded. While I enjoyed seeing the changes in Amy (especially when she was around Gabe or his aunt Tess), she continued to make incredibly selfish decisions through most of the novel, and that made it difficult for me to be 100% in her corner.

I had no such reservations about Gabe. Honorable (perhaps to a fault), dependable, and hardworking, he was exactly the kind of character you want to see succeed in life and love. He's the reason I so wanted the romance between him and Amy to work—because it was so obvious he loved her.

The pacing of the novel did seem a little off to me. For the first three-quarters of the novel, not too much happened. Amy and Gabe slowly (very slowly) moved toward a relationship while Amy tried to figure out what to do with her life and Gabe helped his aunt Tess with her horse farm. Petty jealousies and miscommunications that could have been cleared up with a simple conversation abounded. But then an event—that I can't talk about because of spoilers—happened, the pace suddenly picked up, and the novel flew towards its conclusion. Had this event occurred nearer the middle of the novel, the beginning wouldn't have been so slow, and the ending wouldn't have felt as rushed.

Also, I finished the novel still confused about a few things regarding Amy and her past. Her financial difficulties (which she kept hidden from everyone) were mentioned repeatedly in the story, but at the end, she made a rather grand financial gesture, and I just couldn't figure out where the money came from. I never like to finish a novel with confusion remaining!

While What Hope Remembers isn't my favorite of Alexander's Misty Willow novels, I do recommend the first two books to readers who enjoy family sagas and small-town romance. 3 stars.

Side note not at all related to the review: The male cover model sooooo reminds me of the actor Teddy Sears, most recently known (at least to me) as Zoom on The Flash. I found it distracting every time I looked at the cover!

Read an excerpt.
Buy the book.
Read my reviews of the first two Misty Willow books, Where She Belongs (4 stars) and When Love Arrives (4 stars).

Johnnie Alexander is the award-winning author of Where Treasure Hides and Where She Belongs. Johnnie is an accomplished essayist and poet whose work has appeared in the Guideposts anthology A Cup of Christmas Cheer. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with her grandchildren, and taking road trips. She lives near Memphis, Tennessee.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell through the Revell Reads program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

1 comment:

  1. I read book one in this series, but haven't gone back it. I remember enjoying it though so perhaps someday I'll return to this world. :)


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