My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.
When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.
Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?
This is an amazing book. The characters and their interactions felt so real. The prologue perfectly shows the unique and special relationship between Jake and Lyndie as well as their individual personalities, which made me feel like I knew the characters immediately, even though Jake is so different as an adult because of his trauma. Lyndie trusts that he is the same person deep down, and the strength of her faith is counterpoint to Jake's hopelessness and despair. There is so much desire in him to have her goodness surround him, yet he continually holds her at arms length. Her optimism is one of the things I enjoyed most about her character, in addition to her creativity as an artist which really shone through.
I appreciated the themes woven into this novel. Lyndie has an adult sister who has had cerebral palsy since birth, and Lyndie cares for her deeply with compassion and grace. The portrayal of Jake's PTSD is heartbreaking; I couldn't wait for him to turn to the Lord to begin healing. The members of Lyndie's family play an important role alongside her in providing direction and support to Jake.
The romantic tension and passion is intense once Jake's guard begins to falter. The author is skilled at creating genuine moments between the two as they help each other deal with the difficulties life has handed them. A subplot of Lyndie's neighbor Amber and her dating woes creates some interlude from the intensity of the drama yet doesn't detract from the story. Several other family and community members are influential in the story and create a sense of unity.
(Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Bethany House for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)