Guest Reviewed by Ami
Title: Return to Glory
Author: Sara Arden
Series: Home to Glory #1
Heroine/Hero: Betsy Lewis/Jack McConnell
Genre: M/F Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 Pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Available at: Harlequin HQN, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: In Glory, Kansas, the best bakery in three counties may not only bring together ingredients for sweet treats, but be the place where—through the powerful mix of friendship, community and a well-stocked kitchen—a wounded hero can forge a forever kind of love.
Jack McConnell’s back in the hometown he left behind five years ago, battle-scarred and feeling like half a man. But Betsy Lewis only sees the hero who saved her life and set her heart on fire. Now she’s burning to save his life in return. She’ll use every trick she’s got up her sleeve, from her generous natural assets to her talent for baking, to coax Jack out from the bottom of his whiskey bottle.
At first, Jack responds to Betsy like any red-blooded man would. He’s always denied his attraction to the innocent girl he used to know, but he’s returned to find Betsy’s grown into a full-on woman with strength enough for both of them. Until Jack realizes the only way to conquer his demons and be worthy of the hero’s mantle she’s pinned to his shoulders is to save Betsy one last time—from himself.
The start of a new small-town romance by Sara Arden was a pretty solid one. It also dealt quite heavy with PTSD issues, as the hero, Jack McConnell, returned to his hometown with battle scars, both physically and emotionally. The opening of the first chapter alone – Jack was contemplating to kill himself with his gun – was something I don’t usually find in romance. It felt different and serious but it also presented readers with some great moments.
I admired Betsy quite a deal here – she looked at Jack, refused to let him give up on life. I loved it when she confronted Jack when he was feeling down, basically told him to get up and she would be there to help him. I thought it was admirable – Betsy definitely didn’t just step back and think that love would immediately heal everything. She also thought that Jack would need help. And yes, I loved reading the part where Jack gets all the help he needed. It was heartbreaking too, thinking about all those things that the ex-soldiers were experiencing after they went home from war.
However, I must admit that about the last 25% or so, the story started to feel like it was losing its steam. I mean, it never occurred to me that Jack and Betsy didn’t love each other in their own way. So yes, Betsy did start loving Jack as some-kind of childhood hero – Jack saved Betsy’s life from drowning – and Jack might have issues with his PTSD, but I just never questioned about them making it. Jack clearly was looking for help, Betsy clearly was willing to wait. So the push/pull that happened afterwards, including that one final issue before the happily ever after ending, felt like it dragged the story down.
But overall, I think it was a pretty solid romance.
Overall Impression: I liked it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*