CLOSE TO HOME – Lily Everett
A Sanctuary Island Novel , Book 5
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Sanctuary Island, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
Johnny Alexander spent eighteen months undercover with a gun running gang. He returns to his home office where he is hailed as a hero. His boss hands him a letter from his wife. It contains divorce papers. While Johnny is required to go through therapy to make sure he is mentally recovered for everyday life, he is not ready to give up on his marriage and decides to follow Terri to where she is now living on Sanctuary Island. He found Terri as a terrified seventeen-year-old girl hiding in the barn on his family's farm. Although he and Terri have been married eight years, six of those he was in the army and his recent assignment with the ATF has lasted nearly two years, so he hasn't been around a lot. On top of that, it is an unconsummated marriage—a marriage of convenience so he could protect his wife. He finds her on Sanctuary Island working in a bakery called Patty Cakes, where she works with the owner Patty. He discovers Terri, now preferring to be called Tessa, is a different woman, a more assertive woman who wants to be responsible for herself and control her own life.
Tessa Alexander didn't think Johnny would come to Sanctuary Island. Matter of fact, she thought he would be happy to be relieved of the burden of an obligatory wife. She loves him, but knows he doesn't love her.
The motivation behind these two characters is not always clear so presents a small puzzle as to why they remained in a marriage so long without sexual contact. The reader has to be sensitive to nuances shown in the actions, thoughts, and statements of these two. There is also the element of Johnny's required appointment for psyche therapy after his long and dangerous undercover action. This turns into marriage counseling in equine therapy on Sanctuary Island, which is also famed for its wild horses. While this is the fifth book in this series, only the location is a repeat, so readers will have no trouble understanding the story line. Patty, owner of Patty Cakes, is a charming, sassy and witty mentor secondary character readers will enjoy meeting. The relationship between the characters, Quinn with Marcus, also offers another interesting side-story. Thwarted romance, secrets, a hint of mystery and danger, interesting characters, and a great location; what more does a reader need?