Book 1, A Willow Park Romance
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In this evocative new series from author Sarah Hegger, a woman returns home after a long absence--and wonders if two wrongs really can make a right. . .
Nine years ago Lucy Flint ran away to Seattle, taking her friend's boyfriend and leaving her high school sweetheart without a word of explanation. Now she's back in Willow Park, Illinois, to help care for her ailing father--and it's no surprise that her ex, Dr. Richard Hunter, is still angry.
Still, she's a different Lucy now. Sober, wiser, ready to make amends to the long--make that very long--list of those she mistreated during her wild younger days. Falling for Richard all over again would mean wreaking havoc in both their lives and possibly squandering her opportunity for redemption. But here, in the place where everything went wrong, is the one person who always felt right, and a second-chance that could be the best mistake she ever made. . .
“Sarah Hegger's voice is rich and witty and in a word, addictive.”--Terri Osburn, author of the bestselling Anchor Island series
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
felt plausible and real, and ended with a hopeful tone
I’ve read an historic title from this author, and was curious to see just what Sarah Hegger would do with a contemporary romance, and Nobody’s Angel seemed like a good place to start.
This was not, by any scope of the imagination a light read, but sometimes life isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, and Hegger does detail a story that is full of the unsavory honesty that is a life full of mistakes.
Lucy has returned to her hometown to help her mother, after leaving in the midst of scandal and devastation when she was younger. A recovering alcoholic, she was wildly out of control and her own issues and bad behaviors put her firmly on the outs with everyone in town. On her return, people are expecting more of the same behavior and meanness, but while I didn’t love Lucy, I did admire the choices to face her mistakes and missteps head on without excuses.
Richard, the boy who had a major crush on Lucy years ago is still in town, and still has feelings for her, even buried under layers of anger. In the midst of a marriage that is falling apart, he starts out trying to reconcile, even with the idea that Lucy is back on his mind. I would have liked him to have had a more solid conclusion to the marriage before taking up with Lucy and exploring their potential together, but that too is not always realistic.
Other characters that gave a peek into Lucy’s early years and the damage she wrought when last in town helped to show just how out of control she was, and the appearance of her parents helped to bring understanding to her personality. What dislikable and mean people they are, it’s not a justification of her behavior, but certainly helps readers to understand her better.
There were moments where the story danced on the line of too much for me: the parents were over the top horrid, the townspeople were solidly harsh and unforgiving and Richard was almost dotingly immature in his reactions at first. Most of these sorted out or were easily forgiven as the characters of Lucy and Richard started to come together with new understanding and maturity as both have grown significantly. A darker and more emotionally depressing romance than I initially expected, the story felt plausible and real, and ended with a hopeful tone.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
An intense story of second chances
Years ago, Lucy left town in a whirlwind of chaos, dumping her boyfriend and stealing another one from someone else. But life didn't turn out as ideally as she expected back then, and now that she's facing her personal demons, she has to face all the people she let down. Back home with the parents she disappointed, she finds herself face to face with the man whose heart she left shattered. And while years have passed, those old feelings haven't really changed.
But... I spent a good chunk of the book wondering why American characters raised near Chicago spoke in a way that seemed distinctly British — after I skipped back several pages to make sure I had the location correct. From Lucy's use of the word bloody (which I suppose she could have plucked from her British ex) to her announcing her field of study as physiotherapy (that would be physical therapy to Americans), I was a little thrown. Then there was the noticeable lack of contractions and a few turns of phrase that are pretty damned rare this side of the Atlantic. Of course, when I looked up the author, it all made sense – born in Britain and raised in South Africa. Don't get me wrong; I don't expect authors who speak a hell of a lot more languages than I do to get the American dialect perfect, but I definitely expect the editors to catch it. Still a good read, and the author's vocabulary is seriously impressive, but the editors…
The Verdict: I have to admit that I went into this book with all the wrong expectations. I knew there would be some drama and angst, but I expected it to be a little more lighthearted — for lack of a better word. So it took me a little time to get on board with the slow-paced journey of a recovering alcoholic trying to make amends for her many liquor-fueled transgressions and finding love again somewhere along the way.
Nine years ago, Lucy was the definition of a wild child. Having now met her parents, I can only assume much of her misbehavior and subsequent addiction is the product of an insane home life, and when she left town, she burned every bridge she'd ever crossed. Now back, she's working on the making amends part of a twelve-step program, and that means facing the parents she's disappointed and embarrassed, the classmate she relentlessly picked on, the former best friend whose boyfriend she skipped town with, and the man whose heart she shattered when she left.
Richard has done well for himself since Lucy's abrupt departure, but while he's a successful doctor, his marriage is pretty much over. Ashley, the woman he married, was once Lucy's best friend, and they were both victims to Lucy's selfishness and disregard for others. Richard's been carrying around his anger for nearly a decade, and his estranged wife has never forgiven Lucy for her betrayal. So when Lucy shows back up, making apologies and claiming to have changed, no one really wants to hear it.
Lucy's story was sad to the Nth degree. The consummate party girl, she'd left behind the man she loved for the excitement of the man who belonged to her best friend, and somewhere between leaving and coming back so many years later, she'd hit rock bottom. A series of terrible decisions and shameful consequences, complete with a physically abusive boyfriend along the way, finally landed her in the hospital for the last time, and for three years, she'd been trying to beat the drink and learn to respect and love herself.
Her reunion with Richard was tense, to say the least, and his anger wasn't just some overused plot device to cause conflict. A big part of him really did hate her for breaking his heart the way she did, and it took plenty of concession on her part to get him to put down the verbal weapons and see the person she'd grown to be. Their rekindling was incredibly slow-paced, and in that way it was also very realistic. This wasn't the story of a woman miraculously saved by the perfect man to carry her off into the sunset. Her parents were still awful, there were plenty in town who would rather she'd never returned, and a lot was revealed about just how difficult it is to crawl back from years of alcoholism. I can't say that kind of struggle is something I enjoy reading about, but I have to admire the way the author didn't spare any humility or shame in telling it.
At the heart of the story, though, was the second chance at happily ever after, and while it definitely took a while to get there, it was just perfect when things finally started coming together. As with the rest of the story, even that part wasn't easy, with Lucy's past being thrown in her face and the gossip mill fueled by none other than her mere presence. Witnessing her humiliation was tough, but Richard (and his family) were nothing short of perfect. Nobody's Angel is filled with drama, angst, and inner conflict, but it all felt very real right up through the end, finishing on a positive note without wrapping everything up in a way-too-neat bow.
My kind of story
I love stories of real people who took it on the chin with Life, but somehow manage get beyond it. People like the rest of us who work to find out happiness and we do! I laughed. I cried. I thought Doc Richard was devine. Goes in my must be read again pile.