Monday, November 23, 2015

ARC Review: WAKING HEARTS by Elizabeth Hunter

Waking Hearts
by Elizabeth Hunter
Book 3 in the Cambio Springs series

When everything you’ve longed for is standing right in front of you, would you find the courage to chase it when you’ve given up on dreams?

Fox shifter Alison Smith gave up on happy endings when her ex-husband walked out, but that didn’t mean she was allowed to give up on happiness. With four growing kids, Allie is determined to look on the bright side and carry on, even when life seems to keep kicking the girl who’s fallen down. 

Four kids, two jobs, and a pile of debt left over from her ex seem overwhelming most days. Luckily, Allie has the best friends a girl could ask for. Especially a certain quiet bear who’s always been her rock.

Patient. Oliver Campbell knows what it means to be patient. But twenty years of wanting one unavailable woman may have pushed him to the edge. With Allie working every night at his bar, their friendship has begun to fracture.

Then old ghosts offer one more kick to the little family that’s already down, and patience is a virtue Ollie can no longer afford. Allie’s ex-husband may be gone, but his actions are haunting his family. With danger licking the borders of Cambio Springs, the bear and the fox will have to work together. And twenty years of unspoken truths may finally come to light.

I’ve said before that Elizabeth Hunter is a master storyteller.  She knows how to roll out a story, how to connect the dots.  Here she is also a master weaver, interconnecting the relationships in Cambio Springs.  There is definitely a family flair.  Not surprising, considering that Cambio Springs is one of the few retreats where shifters can openly be themselves.  The town consists of clans of differing shifters keeping the town’s secret. Lives are laced together - like the story of Oliver Campbell and Alison Smith.  

Oliver and Allison have known each other since they were kids. He is a bear shifter and she is a fox.  He has admired her from afar but has been too shy to show his interest.  She has always considered him her best friend, but never really thought of him as anything more until recently.  After her marriage falls apart, and her husband abandons her with four children, Alison struggles to make it work.  Of course, Ollie is there for her, but this time he finally lets her know how he feels.  It’s such a lovely destined-to-be-together story.  It feels especially so because these are two genuinely nice characters.  There is still drama and lots and lots of heat (afterall, she is a fox and they need a lot of touch), but neither character needs redemption, has a personality flaw, or is broken.  They both are good, kind characters that deserve each other, and it works.  Best line: "Respect the lingerie, bear."

I also enjoyed the family dynamics.  Alison has four children that contribute another level of cuteness as well as family drama.  We run the gamut with a bit of teenage angst thrown in with youthful temper tantrums. With large clans, there is an extensive extended family, all of whom have opinions and advice for Ollie and Alison. However, they also provide love and support as needed. This is what community is all about. 

But this is not merely the story of family of shifters, there is a menace behind the scenes. Alison’s family is being targeted and it is somehow connected to her ex-husband.  There are more and more people with eyes on this community.  As the mystery unravels, it feeds into the greater concern about the economic growth of the town driven by the new incoming hotel and spa.  Will the clans be able to keep the secret of the shifters with the influx of outside visitors? Will their sanctuary be destroyed? Because it is so easy to care about these characters, their stress is my stress. 

I love the ease in which I can connect to the characters. I find this story emotionally satisfying.  I have already read it twice.  Enough said. 

Thank you to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. 

No comments:

Post a Comment