Close to Home by Lily Everett (Sanctuary Island #5)
Released: February 7, 2017
Reviewed by Mandi
I love a marriage in trouble trope as it t can present a different kind of conflict in an already established relationship. I liked the set-up in this one. At the age of seventeen, Tessa had to escape the commune her parents raised her in, for her own health and safety. She hides in a neighbor’s barn and this is where twenty-two year old Johnny finds her. He gets her medical attention and then feels protective over her. He asks her if she wants to marry him so she can be on his health insurance before he is deployed. She agrees, and he goes off to the middle east, while she lives her life by herself. Later, he ends up joining the ATF and going very deep undercover . Through all this time – eight years – he has only pecked her on the cheek. It’s truly a marriage of convenience and Tessa is done with it. She is ready to live an independent life since Johnny has never made a move to make their relationship romantic. She leaves him before he comes out of his undercover assignment.
When Johnny makes it back home after his assignment, he realizes Tessa is gone and tracks her down. Deep down he loves her, he has always just been scared to tell and show her. Tessa has started a new life on Sanctuary Island, working in a bakery and figuring out who she is.
I was ready for angst, and emotions and all those romantic feelings of two people who love each other but have kept it hidden for eight years. But we don’t get that. Instead we get a lot of telling but not a lot of showing. Tessa is wary when Johnny comes to her new home, but everything works out super easy. They start counseling. They start making out. I needed more exploration of past feelings. A deeper look into their relationship and feelings. One of the best things with a marriage in trouble story is the complicated feelings that layer the marriage. In this one, since they haven’t taken their relationship to a physical level – there could have been so much intense exploration. But it’s all skimmed over and then too easily worked out.
Instead we get a ton of pages for a supporting character named Marcus and his shady background and a developing romance for him. And then a very odd suspense part takes over the last quarter of the book which felt completely out of place and when you learn what is happening it just seemed silly.
This one missed the mark for me