Shea Brown is a therapist who suffers from PTSD and, frankly, a mistrust of long-ago boyfriend, Liam Barrett. When circumstances throw them back together and they rediscover lost love, Liam distrusts his own ability to be reliable—a flaw he believes he inherited.
Shea is terrified that her new boss will find out how broken she is. After being frightened by a cockatiel while talking on the phone to her dad, Shea must get herself together:
She felt her blood pressure ease back toward normal. ‘It’s fine, Dad.’ Her voice shook. ‘Just a talkative bird.’
‘Well, good grief.’ You scared me there. He didn’t say it, but she heard the additional words in her mind. ‘Are you okay?’
Her breathing was still staggered on her long sigh, but yes. She’d be fine. ‘Better now. Thanks, Dad.’ No need to worry him. In truth, she’d need a good half hour to bring her heart rate all the way back to normal. With Dad on the phone at least she hadn’t dissociated this time. That was a victory.
Dad went quiet. The bird stayed where it was—perched on a skinny slab of wood that wouldn’t support her collection of fat candles. That mantel would have to go. Dad took a deep breath. “You’re still being triggered.”
She tried so hard to hide this broken part of herself.
The talkative bird belongs to Liam’s great aunt. Auntie Mat is a charmer with her theatrical gift for bursting into various accents on a moment’s notice and the way she dotes on Liam, treating the man she raised as if he were her own son. At one point, I found her laugh-out-loud funny. Except, Auntie Mat has a secret.
The story is peopled with numerous characters to grab the sympathy and caring of the reader. Besides the love story and Shea’s issue, a subplot involves Liam’s AWOL father, Jack, the man he hasn’t seen since he was a child—the man who now wants to make contact.
Then there’s Liam’s frenemy Burr. Dylan Burgess’s nickname fits as he’s like a sand burr in Liam’s shoe. But, oh my, his story really made me long for a happy life for him.
While I thought Shea’s mistrust of Liam’s reliability (and the reason for it) wasn’t as developed as it could have been, I didn’t find this book to be a sappy romance. It struck a chord of reality and moved at a good pace. Forgiveness and envy are major themes.
I’m giving the story 4.5 stars for the writing, the characterization, humor, and the genuineness of the relationships.