Thursday, January 23, 2020

Release Day Review: Hometown Heartless - Carrie Aarons

Hometown Heartless
by Carrie Aarons
Published: January 23, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

One year ago, the boy next door was captured as a prisoner of war.

The boy whose window faces mine.
The backyard buddy who bandaged up my skinned knees.
The childhood crush that kept me up at night, wondering if he’d ever be my boyfriend.
The town hero I wrote endless letters to after he shipped out.
The green-eyed charmer who promised me a kiss the day I turned eighteen.

And now, he’s home.
But he didn’t come back as the boy I once knew.
He’s a man now, one with demons I can’t comprehend.
The damaged soldier keeps telling me I’m not his anymore.
That the war took him, turned him into someone unrecognizable.
What he hasn’t considered is that it took me, too.

He swears there is nothing left between us, that his heart died overseas. But with each look through our windows, we both know his lies are just that. With each fated meeting, the truth only becomes more evident.

Everett Brock occupies the shadows now.
And as much as I try to pull him into the light, it seems the switch is permanent.
What he doesn’t realize is that I’m willing to follow him into the darkness.

Available Now
4.5 Stars
A contemporary romance that'll have you falling hard for the hometown hero alongside the heroine, even as he breaks her heart. Everett and Kennedy were always more than just childhood friends, but their age difference and Everett's dreams of becoming a Marine have them putting their romantic desires on hold. The letters they send during his time away only serve to fuel the yearning between them, but one day Everett stops writing back and soon the town, and Kennedy, must accept that he'll never be returning home. It's a miracle when he one day does return, but he's not the Everett they all remember and the horrors of war leave him more than just scarred on the outside. Kennedy has moved on, so she thinks, but Everett's return and their encounters leave her wanting him more, even with his dark side.

Hometown Heartless is a novel about much younger aged characters than military themed romance readers are used to. Everett hadn't been gone long before he went missing and Kennedy is still finishing out her final high school year when he returns. The dynamics in this story are unlike any other military romance, a genre that is one of my favorite, so it is very unique. Some of the typical character interactions you'd expect aren't there, but Carrie Aarons still somehow is able to blend the horrors of war with the high school experience. It's a story about a boy leaving for war, returning a man, and yet no one is prepared for him to be the man he is.

There were certainly times the age of the characters impacted my reading. Kennedy is quite young and immature, she doesn't know how to handle more than her own high school drama, and Everett's experience, despite his age, is one that even adults with more life experience would struggle with. Additionally, some of Everett's experience is hard to picture, his decisions while away and the impact they left take some time to be explained in the novel, so I didn't connect to him right away. Of course, both of these factor in to the drama of the novel and ultimately make it a great read. Sure, I didn't always agree with Kennedy and rolled my eyes at her a lot, but her patience, the back and forth she puts up with from Everett, and the way they push one another really makes for an impactful coming-of-age romance.

Full of angst and packed with Carrie Aaron's well known emotional writing, Hometown Heartless is a love story you won't want to put down.

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