I am having a very hard time figuring out just what type of book Donna Alward writes. As I mentioned in my last review, she's done category romance very well, then a slightly paranormal full length, then a non-paranormal light and breezy in the second book in the series. Treasure on Lilac Lane doesn't clear anything up! This is the third book in the Jewell Cove series and this one takes a turn for the (non-paranormal) serious side.
Here's your summary:
Sometimes the journey home is its own reward.
Once upon a time, Rick Sullivan had a promising future. One of Jewell Cove’s star athletes and reigning heartthrobs, he joined the Marines and had the world in the palm of his hand…until it all came crashing down. His honorable discharge doesn’t make him the hometown hero everyone wants him to be, and there’s little reprieve from the demons that haunt him at night. Still, even though it seems that all hope is gone, fate has something else in store…in Donna Alward's Treasure on Lilac Lane
Just hearing Rick’s name is enough to give Jess Collins a headache. Years ago, they’d been close. Now she barely knows the man Rick has become since his return from service…then again, Jess isn’t that same young, naïve girl anymore either. And while there’s a powerful attraction between them—one that yields a greater passion than Jess could have ever imagined—both are wary about opening their hearts to love…and loss. But happy endings don’t come easily when long-buried secrets insist on rising to the surface. Will their pasts tear them apart—or can love find a way to heal them both?
I was very excited to pick this one up. Rick was one of the most interesting characters in The House on Blackberry Hill and I couldn't wait to see how his romance would shape up. Rick has some pretty serious demons- his mom just died, he can't stop drinking, and he has a pretty serious case of PTSD. All of this make him a very interesting hero, and realistic. (I have mentioned before that I have a problem with it when a character has a flaw that is just on the surface, even when it should be something that is a real struggle. Rick is not like that.)
Jess is a lot harder to like initially. She's very prickly and seems to really have it out for Rick. She's over the top derisive towards him, for longer than seemed appropriate. Jess has a bad experience in her past that leads her to paint all drinkers with this extreme reaction, and I found that even with that it was a bit much. However, this would really be my only criticism of the book and I suppose that other readers won't have an issue with it. Jess works hard and has made herself into quite a success and she's ultimately a good match for Rick.
The romance in this one is very well done. They knew each other as kids, had a bit of a falling out, had more of a falling out when Rick shows up drunk everywhere, and then slowly build up from that. Watching them go from suspicious to friendship to falling in love is enjoyable and believable. They struggle with the ideas they have of each other, and with their own personal demons. There are a few moments of overboard reactions, but they are able to apologize and move on. If all Alwards were like this one I'd have no issue saying she was fast becoming a favorite. I'm hoping that this one is indicative of future books and she continues in this manner. I will definitely pick up her next offering, with the hopes of it being even stronger than this one.
Treasure on Lilac Lane was released on October 28th.