Review: Back to You

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Back to You
Back to You by Lauren Dane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A story about redemption and second chances. About two people who were meant to be together but met and fell in love before they were ready.

Kelly Hurley is a successful entrepreneur, former model, wonderful mother and ex-wife to one very famous rancher-rock star Vaughn Hurley who shattered her heart. It’s been eight years since their divorce and she’s ready to move on and marry a solid, reliable man. But is he the right man for her?

He knew it was selfish and self-serving, but he still callously pushed Kelly out of his life and tried, unsuccessfully, to bury their deep, searing connection under his rocker lifestyle. But it’s a lie not even he can believe. Because even though they had a whirlwind romance very young, their love was true.

Kelly gave up her career and built her life close enough for Vaughn to be able to see his daughters, and her through them. He knows he’s lost something precious and each time he sees her, Vaughn is acutely aware of it. Can he prove that he’s worthy and the man Kelly truly wants and needs before he definitely loses his entire family to another man?

“Once upon a time I loved Kelly. I loved her the first time I saw her. I loved her even when I fucked up so badly I broke the thing some other man is about to snatch up. She made these little creatures with me… I never stopped loving her. But I was stupid and selfish and too blind to see and appreciate what I had in front of me the whole time.” ~ Broken Open (The Hurley Boys #2)

I unquestionable enjoy Lauren Dane’s writing. She creates appealing characters with great chemistry around stories with a great enjoyable pace, wrapped up in wonderful settings and accentuated by equally charming supporting characters. Back to You is no exception.

I really liked Kelly and wanted her to find happiness. She’s only ever been able to count on one person, herself. And through the years that’s made her strong and assertive. She’s also smart and her beauty is both inside and out. She’s put her daughters’ wellbeing first and has always encouraged a strong relationship between them their father and his family even though the Hurley’s have been nothing but unwelcoming towards her.

I liked the grown up version of Vaughn, but not enough to fall for him. I loved that he’s a very loving and devoted father, but I found it very difficult to overlook the fact that it took him close to a decade and being just shy of losing his children and ex-wife, who he undeniably loved, to another man to take action and get them back.

Worse still, I felt he had to be pushed to own up to his mistakes. He’d been self-centered and completely careless with his marriage. And then let his family’s misconceptions completely ostracize the mother of his children. I felt he didn’t atone enough for so coldly discarding his family and that Kelly forgave him too easily.

Even so, it was very gratifying watching him grow up and mature, own his mistakes, claim back his family and woo and romance Kelly. He certainly had an eye opening experience once he started being a full time dad and gained a new appreciation for all fantastic job Kelly has done raising his daughters. It was good to see how old wounds finally faded and these two people that fell in love out of time ultimately found their place together.

Although I do love Ms. Dane’s writing and I think that having little preamble and no big ending or epilogue is her style, I find it a bit disconcerting. Jumping right into the story is OK, because it’s easy to catch up. But in this last book of the series having no epilogue felt like the brother’s stories were left unfinished. Perhaps I’m spoiled and use to Disney like happy endings where the couple fast forwards in time and we get to see a fabulous wedding and increase in rug rats. So this may be just my pet peeve.

Back to You is the third book in the Hurly Boys series by Lauren Dane. It’s a lovely second chance, contemporary romance set in Hood River, Oregon. Told from both points of view and can be read as a standalone which has a happy ending.

Actual rating 3.5 stars

* I was given an ARC of this book courtesy of the author via NetGalley. The excerpts are from that copy. *

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