Here in My Heart

Anna DeStefano
Here in My Heart
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Publisher
Montlake Romance
Release Date
September 2014
Genre
Contemporary Romance

SUMMARY
Live and work together, or lose everything that matters…

The ultimatum tilts Dru Hampton's contented life in Chandlerville, Georgia, on its ear. The man that Vivian, her cantankerous boss and benefactor, wants Dru to partner with—live with—is Brad Douglas, who's let Dru down every way a man can.

Sheriff's deputy Brad Douglas has come a long way since his rebellious youth. He's back home to care for Vivian, his ill grandmother. He's stayed out of Dru's way all these years to make up for the hurt he once caused her. Now, the delightfully mischievous Vivian's dying wish is for them to rebuild at least a working relationship together…and she's betting on them rediscovering much more.

The family business and the Douglas home that Dru and Brad both cherish will be sold if they don't resolve their differences. Can these childhood sweethearts make up and reclaim each other's hearts before it's too late?

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Sep 06, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
146 people found the following review helpful
Fans and newcomers alike will find much to enjoy in Anna DeStefano's latest novella of old heartbreak and second chances. The quaint, hometown feel of the book and the spectacular cast make for a setting that can't be beat, and the emotional love story that unfolds there will keep the tension high and the pages turning.

Years ago, Brad Douglas left his home in Chandlerville, Georgia, a troubled kid who had let down his friends and family in every way that could matter. Most wrenching of all, he was forced to leave Dru Hampton, a girl he was just beginning to love. But since then, Brad has worked hard to earn a good name for himself and to make his grandmother Vivian proud, even if they haven't seen each other in years.

Dru has settled down in Chandlerville, living with Vivian, managing the restaurant that is Vivian's pride and joy, and teaching a local camp at the YMCA. Everything seems to be going smoothly, until Vivian falls ill and demand that Brad be called.

Dru had hoped to go on much longer without thinking about Brad, the teenage love she felt for him, or the pain of his selfish behavior and departure. But with Vivian dying, she knows she has no choice but to be there for him and help him through this rough time. But when Vivian announces that Dru and Brad have to learn to live and work together, or else lose the restaurant and house all at once when she dies, they both realize that Vivian has far bigger plans for them both. Will the scars of the past overshadow their future, or can Brad and Dru find a way to reclaim the love they once shared?

Dru's early life wasn't an easy one, but it is clear from the first few pages of this story that she is strong enough to handle whatever life throws at her, and do it with grace and poise. A foster child from birth, Dru was fortunate enough to be taken in by a wonderfully kind family, and became an instinctive caregiver, which shows especially in her conversations with her campers. Nevertheless, as the details about the fateful night before Brad left are revealed, it's clear why Dru has such a difficult time with his return and trusting him with her future.

The difference between the young Brad of memory and the character that readers meet in this story are genuinely surprising. His own struggles and transformation are quite remarkable, and because Anna DeStefano is so talented at getting into her main character's minds and hearts, he is a truly empathetic hero that readers can root for, precisely because of his past sins, not in spite of them.

The connection between these characters is immediately obvious, despite the time and memories between them. Watching them grow together is one of the most rewarding parts of this book, especially because their journey together is so full of memories, and so deeply tied to the place where they are living. This story has a sensational sense of place, and the locations and secondary cast that fill it bring a color and life to each scene that make the book come to life.

Anna DeStefano knows just what it takes to tug at readers' heartstrings, and explains each of her characters' relationships in such emotional detail that their connections are undeniable and moving. This is particularly true of her family bonds, whether those families be the traditional sort, or the kind that Dru and Vivian, or the other foster children and parents in this story, share. Visiting her Chandlerville, Georgia setting will feel like a kind of reunion for fans, and newcomers won't take too long to feel at home and enmeshed in the tight-knit community she has created.

Because she is dealing with serious, sometimes painful issues, her books don't always make for easy reading, but for those who like their romances full of sentiment, heartache, joy, and triumph, this is a great place to start. The love that fuse these characters together, the long histories they share, and the ties that bind them to their homes and to each other is very deeply explored in this novella, and will certainly charm all of Anna DeStefano's many fans!
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