Harlequin MIRA / August 27, 2013 / $7.99 print & digital
In a moment of desperation, Devon McAllister takes her daughter and flees a place where they should have been safe and secure. She has no idea what is around the next bend, but she is pretty certain it can't be worse than what they've left behind. Her plan is to escape to somewhere she can be invisible. Instead, an unexpected offer of assistance leads her to Thunder Point, a tiny Oregon town with a willingness to help someone in need.
As the widowed father of a vulnerable young boy, Spencer Lawson knows something about needing friendship. But he's not looking for anything else. Instead, he's thrown his energy into his new role as Thunder Point's high school football coach. Tough and demanding to his team, off the field he's gentle and kind…just the kind of man who could heal Devon's wounded heart.
Devon thought she wanted to hide from the world. But in Thunder Point, you find bravery where you least expect it…and sometimes, you find a hero.
Robyn Carr’s books have always been on my auto-buy list, and her books top the best seller list time and time again. One reason for her popularity is that Ms. Carr creates a wonderful sense of community, plus showcases heroes and heroines surviving life altering changes with courage and mettle. Devon McAllister and Spencer Lawson definitely fall into this category of characters with valor and pluck.
Devon had a somewhat normal childhood. She lost her mother when she was nine months old, after she was killed by a drunk driver. But her mother named Mary, Devon’s daycare worker, as her guardian, giving her that much needed early childhood stability.
So Devon had grown up with a devoted parent and house full of small children who were picked up by their parents by five. With the help of scholarships and part-time jobs, she’d attained a degree in early childhood education and had begun work on her Master’s when Mary first fell ill. Very ill. That’s when Devon had said, “I don’t have enough pluck for this. I’m not that strong.”
“You are if you want to be,” Mary had said. Not long after her hospitalization and subsequent death came Devon’s dark, frightening period when there was no work, not enough money for rent and the constant worry about how she would make it through the next day. She constantly reminded herself – I’m a smart, educated, hardworking person—how does this happen? She needed a miracle.
And thought she found it in Jacob. Tall, handsome, soft-spoken Jacob slipped under her defense and she took to his Fellowship. But soon after, she discovered she was just one of many, warming Jacob’s bed, but by that time she was already pregnant. How could she leave then? Afterwards Jacob was amiable to her going, as long as she left her daughter behind. Then someone offers her help if only she has the courage to accept it.
They were gathering eggs one morning when Laine whispered, “I know you want to leave.”
No, Devon said, hiding surprise, cautious in case of betrayal. “I’m very happy.” ”
I know you want to go and if you do, I can help. If you turn on me, it will be bad, very bad. If you don’t want to go, just ignore me.” But Devon said, “Help how?”
“Listen carefully. One June 9 there will be a hole in the fence behind the henhouse, right over there. There will be a backpack with some clothes, bottled water, a couple of apples and granola bars—look for it outside the fence behind a tree. At midnight there will be a truck down the road—the lights will be off. The driver will take you over the mountain.
The last four years have been turbulent for Spencer Lawson. Just as he and his wife Bridget were starting fertility treatments, they discovered she had colon cancer. Numerous times they thought they had it beat, only for it to come back time and time again. Six month before her death, everyone in the family was tested for a bone marrow match, and Spencer discovers his beloved son is not his biological one. Spencer steps up to the plate for his wife and lets her ease her guilty conscious, risking losing the child he raised as his own, when she decides she needs to tell Hank Cooper that he has a son. Then after her death, Spencer moves to Thunder Point, Oregon, so Austin can get to know his biological father better.
He had no regrets about coming to Thunder Point.
It was a great move for a lot of reasons and he was more than a little anxious to meet and start working with his colleagues and the team. Everyone he knew was growing deeper connections—Austin had gained a second father and soon, a stepmom and stepbrother. Cooper had gained a son and would soon add a wife and brother to the mix. Sarah and Landon were expanding their intimate circle. But in the midst of all these people, Spencer was alone.
He missed his wife. The past few years she’d been so sick, but he often missed the girl he’d married. It had been so long since he’d seen or held that girl.
Spencer immediately feels a pull upon meeting Devon. Is this a manifestation of his loneliness, or a hero complex, or something more?
Spencer looked at this duo—mother and child. She was plain as a pancake, and yet she was beautiful. She looked very young—early twenties? She was vulnerable, that was instantly obvious. He immediately wondered how she’d gotten trapped in a commune that wouldn’t let her leave. He had this sudden urge to step in, to offer advice or shelter or something.
When Spencer indicates his interest, Devon has her doubts.
She turned toward him. “Spencer, you seem to be a very nice guy, but I warn you—I’m painfully out of practice at this. And it’s possible you’re just lonely.”
He turned toward her. “Devon, my wife was a wonderful woman. I didn’t deserve her. That’s a fact. And she battled cancer for almost four years. She had brief periods of respite, but every time the cancer would come back harder. Stronger. We fought it together till the end. Was I lonely? Yes, absolutely.
Plus Devon has been under one man’s thumb for too long to trust that easily again. For her daughter and herself, she needs to find her own core of strength and stand on her own. She doesn’t want to be dependent on any man again. She is ready to make a home for her daughter:
If the outside looked bad, the inside was a disaster. Trash, peeling paint, holes in the walls—mostly from doorknobs that hit the walls when the doors had been swung wide. A few walls showed signs of suspicious holes—as if someone had thrown something or punched them. . .
Devon looked at the filth, the scarred hardwood floors and the chipped and peeling paint. The place even had a bit of a smell to it, of what, she wasn’t sure. The bathroom was a horror—there was a shower curtain that was disgusting and the tub and tiles were filthy. The toilet was older than she was, and there was a large chip in the porcelain tub . . .
The kitchen was almost as bad. Fortunately the newest item was the refrigerator and since the electricity had been left on, it was only dirty. Nothing had been left to rot.
Devon had been thinking about the layout—a small but functional kitchen, a good-size living room with a pretty little fireplace, two nice-size bedrooms and a rather large, disgusting bathroom. And a view to die for.
“I think it’s beautiful. I’ll take it!
Now that is courage. But that is only the beginning. I know that you will want to join Devon and Spencer as they discover their own “true grit.”
Learn more or pre-order a copy of The Hero by Robyn Carr before its release (August 27, 2013):
Leigh Davis, Blogger