A Reason to Love by Alexis Morgan #Review

A Reason to Love by Alexis Morgan #ReviewA Reason to Love by Alexis Morgan

Series: #3 Snowberry Creek
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Signet Eclipse on May 6, 2014
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars      four-flames

This was a To Be or Not to Be…Read winner.  It was sitting on my shelf for ages and definitely needed some book loving.  Thanks, everyone for the votes.

Spencer Lang had a rough war.  Now, on his homecoming, he discovers the whole town thinks he is dead.  Staring at his own tombstone drives that point home and rattles him.  But what brings his anger and bitterness blazing to life is to see the woman he thought he would marry walking down the aisle with one of his best buds.  Well so be it, the world went on without him and now he doesn’t have a place in it.  Or so he thinks.

Shy, quiet Melanie Wolfe grew up in a home where family heritage, appearances and decorum were everything.  Now her father is gone after botching the family finances and her mother has decamped to shroud herself in her grief and pretend the family still has wealth while living at her sisters.  Melanie is left to pick up the pieces and try to hold things together.  The once bad boy, Spence, was a teenage secret crush, but now that he’s back and floundering, Melanie reaches out to him on instinct and secretly dreams again that he will stay- for his own happiness, but hers as well.

Alright, so I’ve had this on the shelf for a while and now I’m glad to have read it.  The author was new to me, but I liked her writing.  The small town setting and circle of friends who share a past was a definite plus.  But it was the idea of a tangled situation such as what happens when a guy presumed dead comes back and tries to pick up his life that really had me curious.

So curious that I didn’t pay attention to the fact that this was a book in a series that really should have been read in order.  Sometimes, I get away with reading out of order.  And to a certain extent, I did this time.  I wasn’t confused or missing information, but I did miss the tie-in of Melanie and Spence to the earlier books.  These stories probably tied together pretty closely.  The curious part is that by skipping the other books, I formed an interesting opinion of the characters from the earlier books.  Someone who read those books and came to this one most likely wouldn’t feel the way I did- or maybe they did.

I’m going to bring up what I think of as a big LITTLE thing.  In other words, I enjoyed this book, I would read more from this author, I would recommend this book, but I also had a niggle that was a big issue for me so it’s distracting me from complete book love.

See, I wasn’t vested in Callie, Nick, or Leif and I didn’t really care for them for most of this book.  I’m pretty sure they were wonderful people and swoony heroes and heroine in their own books.  But the roles they played in this one felt like they were the villains.  Okay, not that drastic, but still…

When Spence lost it at Callie and Nick’s wedding (not even during, but after when they approached him and wouldn’t back off like he asked- not the other way around) and when they continued to blame and push at him to meet with them to talk and tell what happened, when they recriminated against him for not calling them before showing up, when they were nagging at him to decide about the home they were living in that he owned, I really wasn’t seeing how these could possibly be his friends.

Oh yes, I get it.  Spence should have called.  Spence is forcing them to hold off on the renovations for a business that is their future.  And yes, they were probably frustrated that he avoided the people who were supposedly his friends.

But yeesh people, he’s messed up in the head after all he’s been through.  Not thinking straight and he admitted it.  He asked for time.  He came home to a mess and they- not on purpose, but they are still part of it.  And they know it.

I wanted to smack all of them and I couldn’t stand how self-absorbed they came across.  They had time to heal from the war and get adjusted to civilian life.  Give the man a break!  Guy was a prisoner of war and wounded and comes back to enough changes to shake up more put together people than he was and they were in his face first thing.   The final scene was like a re-set on the first one.  They still hadn’t gotten it.  They pushed for what they wanted.  It all ended up well because it’s a romance, but I really felt conflicted that it was somewhat about Spence seeing how much people cared, but also that they wanted to force his hand and force his decision.

Melanie, the only person NOT claiming to have been his best friend, was the only one to consistently understand what was going on for most of the story.

I did a big ‘woot woot’ when gentle Melanie told off her own best bud when Callie cornered her at the coffee shop and started in on Melanie.  Callie pushed Melanie into the middle of her issues with Spence and then got ornery and snippy because Melanie wouldn’t be used as Callie’s tool to force Spence to do what she wanted.  Callie also got her undies in a twist because Mel befriended Spence and was starting a relationship with him and because Melanie was cautioning Callie to give him space and time.   Callie constantly made it known that Spence was just a friend and they had been best friends just as she was with Melanie, but there was some definite ‘Spence is my shiny’ vibe coming off her when she realized that Melanie was interested in Spence and he, in Melanie.

I did end up warming to them and wanting all involved to patch up their differences and restore the friendships.  But I never really got past thinking that, really, Spence ended up doing all the giving and restoring while they took it in stride like he should be the one putting forth all the effort.

I think, even if they denied it and talked of how Callie never felt more than sisterly affection for Spence and they fell in love honestly believing he was gone, they both felt some guilt and it caused them to be defensive and reactionary.

Now, as you can tell, I found the above situation rather distracting (but don’t forget it was my big-little issue and not the whole story).  But for all that, Melanie and Spence were the focal point of the story.  They had personal demons to slay and they had to get to know the adult versions of themselves.  Their relationship was characterized by two people feeling their way and holding back because they agreed early on that it was all temporary since Spence planned to leave and Melanie might also leave if the family business failed.  They pretended to a friends with benefits agreement.  Melanie early on acknowledged her feelings and was honest with Spence.  It was Spence who was both confused about his feelings and in denial.  He was so set on leaving town and mostly because he was being pushed and pulled and not allowed to gather himself so he felt he was broken and on edge and not fit for anything.  He knew he loved Melanie, but he didn’t feel good enough for her.

This was the third book in a trilogy and it most definitely felt like the book at the end that drew the series arc to a close and wrapped things up with the whole cast of characters.  Although, there was one thread that wasn’t explored and left me curious.  Maybe that means there are actually more stories in this series.

Uh huh…so, it was an interesting situation and I’m a little curious if reading the other books would have altered my impression of this one or if it wouldn’t have mattered.  I’ve always had a soft spot for stories of wounded veterans coming home and I found both Spence and Melanie engaging hero and heroine.  I’m somewhat divided in my opinion, but I think overall, it was an engaging read.  As I said, I would read more from the author and I think others might enjoy this small town romance with a bit of spice.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #183 CR
Blogger Shame #20
Mt. TBR #77
New to Me #73 author/series

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

Latest posts by Sophia Rose (see all)

  • I’ve not heard of this author or this series but I think I’m going to check it out.

    • It was the blend of small town atmosphere with guys coming back from the war that caught my attention. I am slowly trying to build up some favorites in the Contemporary Romance sub-genre.

  • Debbie Haupt

    This is a new to me author but the cover and your review have it on my wish list!

    • She was new to me as well and yes, adorable cover. There is an old Victorian being renovated into a B&B so I think that is what is on the cover. Hope you like it, Debbie!

  • Yay..it has a lag time but share icons are now showing up. For some reason it didn’t load earlier..but it took a while to pop up now.

    • Huh, weird! Gremlins in the machine, of course! 😉

  • I love the cover on this book! This is an author that I have not read yet but based on your great review it sounds like a good read! Thanks for sharing:)

    • It is a cover that sets a mood for sure. A quick ‘going to my happy place’ type.

      My first time reading her story and it was engaging and warm like the cover. Hope you get the chance, Cindy!

  • I really should get my share buttons right…alas, I can not find the problem in the code

    • Apparently we’re having technical difficulties. I think someone let the Gremlin’s loose. 🙂

  • That cover is so cute and the story sounds great.

    • It was a cutie. Nice change up between my usual type of reads. I am trying to keep expanding into Contemporaries. For some odd reason, they are the hardest of the romance sub-genres for me to get into.

  • Oh I remember this one, i think I voted for this one last time. I like the cover for this one, it’s so cute! And a good small town setting is always fun to read about.
    That must’ve been a shock for him to see his own tombstone and the town thinking he was dead. Seems like this series didn’t work as well being read as a standalone, although it is interesting how you form a different opinion about some of the characters than you probably would’ve if you read them in order. And that interesting they almost felt like villains here and you couldn’t get fully invested in them. Sounds like it would’ve worked better if they were a bit easier and more understanding towards Spence. I am glad you warmed a bit towards them eventually, but I can imagine that made for a bit of rocky start for this book. I do like the sound of Melanie and Spence and their romance sounds nicely done. Great review!

    • Haha, yes, this was one that my skipping around didn’t work so well. But, in a way, I’m relieved. I would have been conflicted over the others if I had read their stories, loved them, and then saw them acting like this to their hurting friend.
      Melanie and Spence together were good. They really needed each other.

  • The cover does have a sweet cozy feel to it. But from your review it doesn’t seem to fit (for me). However, the romance does sound sweet especially with Melanie ending up with her teen crush.

    • This was my first time with the series and the author and I felt like I plunged into the middle of something somewhat, but I agree that this is no lazy paced small town romance. Or at least not entirely. His PTSD issues weren’t as dark and gritty as could have been the tone. The small town places and characters were present and it’s a town off by itself so it has the setting for cozy. I think the drama between his friends and him while he’s still trying to transition back into civilian and home life was what pushed it beyond the cute cover.
      But yes, Melanie getting a chance with her teen crush was the sweetest part and she was in his corner which he very much needed.
      So not a bad read, but it did have a bit something more going on than the cover hints at.

  • Oh my gosh. The “friends” would have ticked me off so badly and I probably wouldn’t have been as kind as you were. I’ve read a historical series like that recently. I read book three (they were each about sisters) and loved the 3rd sister but the two previous heroines were just terrible towards her. It really put me off wanting to go back and read their romances.

    • Oh, I think I remember your post on that. Yes, that was exactly the same. I think I’m going to let the earlier books in this one alone and maybe try other standalone or series by the author. I really wanted to do them violence especially Callie who was the one stirring up the other two to go after Spence and push him to do what they all wanted.

  • Ooh I might have thrown my Kindle reading this one! At the very least I would have been yelling at it. Sorry I won’t be reading this one even though I voted for it 🙂

    • Yeah, I read a paper copy so it got slapped down on the coffee table twice.

      Haha, don’t blame you for skipping. It had me muttering a lot because of his so-called friends. LOL, no hard feelings about the vote. Most of the book is pretty good.