Twice in a lifetimeRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novella

Jude Robbins is a British transplant and was lucky enough to find the love of his life in Dr. Martin Andrews. But when Martin was tragically murdered, Jude knew he’d lost his chance and moved to the small town of Sutter’s Bay. The tight knit community is welcoming, but nosy, and while Jude likes to draw attention to himself, he doesn’t like to be the focus of gossip. He seeks his hookups elsewhere, not wanting to get involved with anyone in town and not really wanting a relationship at all. Until the new veterinarian, Rex Warner, appears that is.

Rex is attracted to Jude from the moment they meet. He finds Jude’s outrageous hair colors, makeup, and piercings attractive. When Jude’s cat gets into a fight with a dog, Jude brings the cat into the vet clinic. After Rex checks the cat out and makes sure he’s fine, Rex invites Jude out to dinner. There, Jude admits what happened to Martin, and Rex understands more about Jude. They begin a relationship, and Rex is always patient with Jude. He really understands Jude’s reasons for not being able to fully let Martin go, and he supports Jude completely. That becomes even more important as Jude’s past rears its head, forcing them to revisit Martin’s death and all the issues it brings up. But their love is not conditional, and if Jude can allow it to happen, it will be everything he needs.

challenge monthGuys this one, and the entire Sutter’s Bay series, has been in my TBR pile for quite a while. And it’s not for lack of wanting to read it that it kept getting pushed aside. There was just always a review book to read or something newer and shinier that enticed me instead. So when TBR Pile Challenge week was proposed, I knew exactly what I was going to read. I’m so happy I finally did. This was a delightful read that gave me the happy satisfaction at the end. It’s technically the second book in the series, but don’t let that deter you; the book works perfectly as a standalone.

I loved Jude from the very beginning, and my heart just ached for him and his loss. But more than that, I admired his strength and his resolve. He had been through something horrific, and what happened immediately after made everything worse. Jude has issues, of course, and it’s no surprise. But what I really liked here was that they were apart of Jude, but they weren’t all he was. He was a wonderfully layered character, and everything about him rang true. His determination to live his life, was never at odds with his insecurities or his worries and fears. They all fit together to make a beautifully nuanced character. I believed Jude wholeheartedly.

Rex was wonderfully sweet and understanding, and he had a huge heart of gold. What made me happy about his character was that he just seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and it never strayed into the “too good to be true” category. Too easily, it could have. Rex could have gone too far and been unbelievable. But while it’s true he had few flaws, he did have a real feeling to him that made it all work. And he was perfect for Jude, exactly the right guy for him and I loved seeing them navigate their relationship. Their chemistry sparked and caught quickly, and they just fit together.

One of the other things I really appreciated was that Jude wasn’t magically fixed by falling in love with Rex. His issues were still there, though Rex helped him work through things instead of Jude having to cope on his own.  And Jude is by no means “all better” by story’s end. Given what had happened and how he was treated following Martin’s death, if he had been miraculously issue free it would have seems contrived and trite. Instead, he learns that he can lean on Rex and Rex will support him. It was really lovely to see and made me love Jude all the more.

All in all, this was a quick, heartfelt read with a bit of angst that gave the story depth and reality. The characters, Jude in particular, were nicely developed. The story is character driven, the plot well-paced if a bit predictable at times. I really enjoyed this story, and have no qualms about recommending it to you.

This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for TBR Pile Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win this week’s fabulous prize of a loaded iPad Mini sponsored by Dreamspinner Press, as well as our amazing grand prize sponsored by Riptide Publishing. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on TBR Pile week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes! 

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