sophieRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

Aaron Downing is never going to be totally over the violent attack that killed his best friend and left him emotionally devastated. But he has come a long way with the help of his boyfriend, Spencer Thomas, and the two are happily making their life together. That is until Spencer’s Aunt Nell dies, leaving him custody of her three-year-old daughter.

Spencer is ready to immediately take on the role of parenting little Sophie, but Aaron is totally thrown. He knows what horrible things can befall a child, and he can’t imagine being responsible for Sophie’s care. Not to mention that Aaron still doesn’t fully believe Spencer isn’t going to grow tired of dealing with Aaron’s issues one day, and raising a child together will only complicate the inevitable separation.

Spencer needs Aaron to step up and accept his role as parent to Sophie. And Aaron is slowly able to come to terms with the changes in their lives and is finding happiness in their new family. But things become complicated as the guys face a custody fight for Sophie, one that might destroy the family they are trying to build.

Sophie is the fifth and final book in J.P. Barnaby’s wonderful Survivor Stories series. It is also Barnaby’s final work as an author. This series is likely the author’s best known work, and Aaron is undoubtably one of her most beloved characters. We have followed his journey to recovery over the series, and this book is such a lovely way to cap things off. We have felt Aaron’s pain and watched when his recovery seemed hopeless. These men both started out the series certain there would be no happy endings for them, Spencer because of his deafness and Aaron because of his trauma. So it is rewarding here to see not only how far they have come, but to see both Spencer and Aaron find a life together neither man ever expected to have.

This is a fairly short book and things move pretty quickly. I would have liked a little more time at the start to get reacquainted with where the guys are in their lives and their relationship before the conflict hits, as it has been several years since we had a book focused solely on them (as well as years in the story timeline). And time passes fairly fast within the story, so I felt like Aaron moves forward rather quickly given his concerns early on. But honestly, that is all sort of beside the point. If you are a fan of this series as I am, and your heart was opened to Aaron and his story, then this book is all about giving Spencer and Aaron that happily ever after that we all want for them. And in that, Barnaby is very successful, pulling together a story that reflects these guys so well and ends up full of love and happiness.

I have to say, just writing this is getting me a little misty. I feel like I have been on such a journey with these characters and I hate to let them go. It is hard to imagine that this is their last story, not to mention Barnaby’s last work. But I am happy to say, the author finishes up strong here. Sophie is a rewarding story that puts a wonderful finish on this excellent series.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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