Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: Willowleaf Lane

Willowleaf Lane
By RaeAnne Thayne
Published: June 25, 2013

Sometimes going back is the best way to start over

Candy shop owner Charlotte Caine knows temptation. To reboot her life, shed weight and gain perspective, she's passing up sweet enticements left and right. But willpower doesn't come so easily when hell-raiser Spencer Gregory comes back to Hope's Crossing, bringing with him memories of broken promises and teen angst. A retired pro baseball player on the mend from injury—and a damaging scandal—he's interested in his own brand of reinvention.

Now everything about Spencer's new-and-improved lifestyle, from his mission to build a rehab facility for injured veterans to his clear devotion to his preteen daughter, Peyton, touches Charlotte's heart. Holding on to past hurt is her only protection against falling for him—again. But if she takes the risk, will she find in Spencer a hometown heartbreaker, or the hero she's always wanted?

My review:

This is the fifth book in the Hope's Crossing series (after Current Creek Valley) and while it can be read as a standalone novel since the author catches the reader up on who's who and important events, I read Blackberry Summer first. Each book focuses on a main couple and we get to read the development of their romance from both the heroine and hero's perspectives which is nice. The books also have strong secondary characters which will appeal to fans of series who like knowing what happens in the lives of their favorite couples down the road. The town of Hope's Crossing is charming but not perfect with a small town feel and close but sometimes obnoxious neighbors. The descriptions of the scenery are really appealing and make me want to visit Colorado.

Willowleaf Lane tells the story of Charlotte Caine, the daughter of diner owner Dermot Caine, and the proprietress of Sugar Rush, the popular Hope's Crossing candy shop. Charlotte is at a relatively good place in her life after making some healthy changes. Her shop is also doing well. Then her former crush, Spencer Gregory comes back to Hope's Crossing and it is like she is back in high school again. 

I have to admit that I was not entirely a fan of the romance between Charlotte and Spencer and I think it is because I didn't completely like his character. Spencer is not as well developed as some of Thayne's other heroes from the series like Riley or Jackson. I also thought that Charlotte used her high school feelings and hurts as a weak barrier to a romance with him. If more time was devoted to the building of a relationship based not on the past friendship between Charlotte and Spencer but on who they are currently, I might have found it easier to buy into. Spencer does have some good qualities such as his desire to be a good dad to Peyton and I felt bad for the way the town kept judging him unfairly. I just wish the romance aspect lived up to my expectations after reading the other books.

It was great to get caught up on the happenings in the lives of the other Hope's Crossing residents from the previous books. I also liked the setup for the next book featuring Charlotte's brother. Overall while this isn't my favorite book in the series, I did like Charlotte and there were enough positives to outweigh the story's weaknesses. I did like the bond that developed between Charlotte and Peyton and how Charlotte helped her adjust to living in Hope's Crossing. Those scenes were among my favorites in the book.

If you like contemporary romances in small town settings, you might want to check out the Hope's Crossing books. I suggest starting with Blackberry Summer because it sets up the rest of the series really well. Willowleaf Lane may not have been as good as some of the other books but it was still an enjoyable romance in a great setting.

Note: I received an ARC for review courtesy of Amazon Vine


  1. I like the idea of getting caught up on the other couples you love but the romance really has to work as it's the core of the book. Maybe I'll give just Blackberry Summer a read.

  2. It sounds like the author's previous books are better. I'll add Blackberry Summer to my TBR!

    Nice review :)

  3. I know I've got one or two of this author's books. My friend Karen guest reviewed Currant Creek Valley on my blog, she thought she may have benefited from reading earlier books. Glad this was still enjoyable and I'll keep in mind Blackberry Summer :)


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