Each time I pick up a book from this series I feel like I’m going right along with the characters for a much anticipated visit to a familiar place with familiar people. The Tallgrass series is full of small town goodness with a little military flavoring, emotional and heartwarming plots, engaging characters, and a feeling of family connectedness.
This is part of a series and works best if read in order. The hero and most of the secondary characters were introduced in earlier books just as the hero and heroine for the next book’s story thread starts in this one. But, I suppose in a pinch one could start them out of order. It worked for me after all since I started with the novella and continued from there, still needing to go back for the first books.
The book opens with Avi Grant returning home for four weeks of leave after several tours of duty leave her soul weary and a little lost after losing the man she felt nearly hero-worship for. Tallgrass has changed a bit since she was last there when her grandparents were alive. Her parents moved back there and took over the family nursery business and this suited Avi because she loved the town and loves that her folks’ best friends, the Colonel and Patricia, live there too because of its nearness to the army post. Now Patricia is a widow and Avi mourns his loss right along with her, but Avi sees that Patricia is doing alright with the help of The Marguerita Girls Widows’ Club. Avi doesn’t know what to make of Patricia’s grown son, Ben Noble, knowing what she does about the precarious family situation. Ben and his mother have the history of Patricia leaving her husband and kids for the Colonel between them. Ben is attractive and the perfect guy, but too bad anything they start has an expiration date on it when she needs to report to her new duty assignment post.
Ben doesn’t want to have strong feelings for Avi because she is career military and he is rooted deeply in the Oklahoma soil. He will never abandon his sisters and their family to run after someone like their mother did to them. However, the more time he spends with Avi; he realizes they are both in deep and the separation will be heartbreaking. Patricia challenges him to think hard about passing up a chance for love.
These stories pack a lot more into them. There is a blend of gentle small town romance with the depth of emotion each heartbreaking plot puts forth. In this case, Avi must get past survivor’s guilt, grief for fallen comrades, decisions about her future as a career soldier vs. the desire for a family. Ben must finally forgive the past when his mother walked away from her family to love another and seemingly never looked back. He has to choose between what he can have with Avi or the sure thing of duty and roots. The situation of go or stay for him and leave or stay for her is the big conflict of the book. There is tension, but happily the angst is low-key.
The romance is passionate, but sweet and tender. The characters are slowly developed and grow personally and together over the course of the book. They engage in easy going activities blended with hot sexy times. I like how the romance isn’t told in isolation, but surrounded by the ongoing stories of the town characters and surrounding family. In fact, there are multiple alternating narrators besides the hero and heroine.
There is humor throughout and I love that the characters, setting, and situations always feel real like I could really go to this town and meet these folks. Each installment sets up the next, but the secondary story doesn’t take over the main couple’s story. Actually, this one had two secondary stories going on. I can’t wait for Lucy’s story to culminate and I am intrigued by what I see of the story coming next.
In summary, this was a lovely, engaging cozy story that I would recommend to those who like slightly spicy small town romance.
My thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #267 CR
Cliché Klatch #157 ‘Settle down’
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