I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Bridge to a Better Life by Ava Miles
Series: Dare Valley #8
Published by Self Published on May 11, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Amazon | Goodreads
Sports hero and newly retired NFL quarterback Blake Cunningham wants a second chance at love…with his ex-wife. He's bought the house next door to her in Dare Valley and has built a bridge connecting their properties. It's his bridge to a better life, the one he lost when Natalie Hale left him after a family tragedy destroyed their marriage.
Natalie has just started a new job as the head caterer at the small town's historic hotel. When she discovers Blake has become the boy next door-literally-she secretly has to admit he still fires up all her engines and tugs at her heart. But the ghosts from their past seem too monumental to conquer.
Blake vows to help Natalie remember the power of their love and friendship. With the intense sparks of attraction flying between them, Natalie begins to put her heart out there again. How can she resist Blake when he makes her laugh and swoon by even acting out her secret Outlander fantasy? As they both give love a second chance, they are forced to face their most disturbing memories, not only the tragedy that ripped their lives apart, but also the secret parts they were afraid to share...
This is a rather extraordinary story of second chance romance.
When her sister-in-law and best friend died of cancer, Natalie Hale shut down emotionally because she couldn’t handle the pain of her grief. She walked away from her husband (and marriage) when he tried to offer comfort and solace. Now Blake Cunningham, an NFL Super Bowl winning quarterback puts everything on the line to win his wife back.
Why I liked this story
I’m used to feel-good stories in this series with strong, admirable heroines that are paired with attractive, honorable men who aren’t afraid to express themselves emotionally. Here we have a slight departure as, at times, there’s very little to admire about Natalie’s behavior. On the surface, her reasons for shutting out and divorcing Blake seem inexplicable. When we get a glimpse of what lies beneath, she emerges as much more complicated and sympathetic. It’s difficult to identify with a character like Natalie whose struggles with self love appear irrational. But her issues are complex and she’s only emulating what she’s learned from two stoic parents.
Blake kept me in this relationship as he’s the most sensitive and caring of men. His sacrifices were phenomenal, almost unrealistic but definitely in line with the strength of his love for Natalie. Where many would have given up, he persevered and hung in there. I loved this character and how fearless he was in displaying his vulnerabilities.
One more thing
On a lighter note, many of Blake’s football pals provide much needed comic relief and embodied friendship and tolerance. I liked how this was directly tied to the benefits of team sports and it added heft to the story. Plus, there are a few I’m hoping to see in future books.
The bottom line
While this was a tougher story than the others in the series, it still has all those underlying themes that are characteristic of an Ava Miles book…importance of family and friends, strong work ethics and heartwarming moments. The characters are uniquely drawn and even when Natalie frustrated me to no end, she was still intriguing. And you won’t want to miss the opportunity to meet the romantic Blake Cunningham.
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