Willowleaf Lane - RaeAnne Thayne Title: Willowleaf Lane

Series: Hope's Crossing book 5

Author: RaeAnne Thayne

Sometimes going back is the best way to start over

Candy shop owner Charlotte Caine knows temptation. To reboot her life, shed weight and gain perspective, she's passing up sweet enticements left and right. But willpower doesn't come so easily when hell-raiser Spencer Gregory comes back to Hope's Crossing, bringing with him memories of broken promises and teen angst. A retired pro baseball player on the mend from injury-and a damaging scandal-he's interested in his own brand of reinvention.

Now everything about Spencer's new-and-improved lifestyle, from his mission to build a rehab facility for injured veterans to his clear devotion to his preteen daughter, Peyton, touches Charlotte's heart. Holding on to past hurt is her only protection against falling for him-again. But if she takes the risk, will she find in Spencer a hometown heartbreaker, or the hero she's always wanted?

Welcome back home to Hope’s Crossing! I feel I’m going home every time I pick up another book in this series. I enjoy getting to know new friends and catching up with old ones. To say I am a fan of RaeAnne Thayne’s would be a resounding YES! I discovered her Cowboys of Cold Creek series first and I have loved everything I’ve read since then.

This 5th book in the Hope’s Crossing series features business owner Charlotte. She is a life-long resident of the town, the youngest in a house-full of boys and she lost her mom at a young and pivotal age for a girl. Our leading man is one we have not been introduced to in previous books, Spencer Gregory. He grew up in town and left to follow his dream of a baseball career and never looked back… until now.

Previous books have covered the lives of the McKnight family (as well as others), this book covers background for the Caine family and how Charlotte’s father took a young Spencer under his wing and provided a waitressing job for Spencer’s mom when a lot of employers would have written her off. We see the dynamic of Spence and his daughter and the typical teen angst that we all fear we’ll have to face at some point with our children. I like the perspective that Charlotte brings to the father/daughter relationship and she gives a maternal/friend influence to Spencer’s daughter, Peyton, when she needs it most. In a twist I didn’t see coming (there were a couple in this book that surprised me) a very sensitive and difficult teen problem is dealt with in an appropriately compassionate way. While the past friendship and one-sided crush between Charlotte and Spencer is covered in detail their current story blends well with the other parts of the book. It is treated more as a friendship that grows into love (even though there is definite chemistry between the two) - once Charlotte knows she can trust her heart to Spencer again.

The problems that Charlotte’s brother Dylan is having adjusting to life having lost an eye and part of his arm in an IED attack are another focus in this story. You root for Dylan to find the enthusiasm for life that he has been missing and help with Spence’s A Warrior’s Hope program but there’s no resolution in this book. (I was a little surprised by the lack of an epilogue in my review copy.) So I was extremely relieved to go out to RaeAnne Thayne’s website and see that there is a book 6 coming in November because there was nothing listed on Goodreads.com and I just about hyperventilated! LOL! Book 6 should be an interesting one… how is ReaAnne going to make me like Genevieve Beaumont?? I am skeptical! But if anyone can, I know she’s up to the job!! And Dylan better hold on because I have a feeling his family is tired of his antipathy for life and will help Gen light a fire under him!

Grade: A

Review By: Jeananna

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