After You Were Gone by Alexis Harrington

Setting: Gila Rock, Texas
Genre: Western Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: February 7, 2017

Set in the small Texas town of Gila Rock, Mitchell Tucker has come home after spending seven years in prison.  His only goal is to make amends with Julianne Emerson and then get the heck out of there.  Some things are harder said than done because Julianne wants nothing to do with him and won't even let him come near her.  He doesn't really blame her, after all he killed her husband all those years ago and went to prison for it. Setting fire to the barn had been done in a fit of jealousy, but he'd never meant to hurt Wes.  He just wants a chance to do whatever he can to help her now.

Julianne can't believe Mitchell thinks to show up and get forgiveness from her.  She lost not only her husband in the fire, but afterwards she lost the baby as well.  Times have changed and she no longer can afford to feel for Mitchell what she used to feel.  She now has to sell her family farm and try and make a go of it with the town store her uncle left her.  She has her good friend Cade to help, but when Cade breaks his arm, she has little choice to accept the free help Mitchell is offering to get her life on track.

Mitchell is grateful for the work, even if it's little consolation for the hurt he's caused Julianne.  His family hasn't changed much and he wants nothing to do with his mean brother Darcy or his equally rotten father, Earl.  After taking the stray dog from the house with him, he moves into town to help Julianne.  However, people and things from the past all seem to conspire against him and Julianne ever being able to make amends.  Yet with someone threatening Julianne, he knows he has to stay close to keep her safe.  When all the truths are exposed and the lies uncovered, there may be more destruction ahead.  Will they be able to overcome it all together, or will their love go down in flames?

I've been eagerly awaiting the next book by Alexis Harrington after I  read nearly all her books in a row after discovering her.  She takes a break from the historical and brings the readers to modern day Texas.  With her unique storytelling ability, she's able to transport the reader to the dry, dusty little town of Gila Rock where we can almost feel the burning sun and taste the dust in the wind. 

Vivid imagery and colorful characters bring this backdrop to life, creating the perfect environment for these two lost souls trying the reconnect after all the years.  The lively secondary characters, as well as Jack the dog and the townsfolk, give this story a well-rounded appeal.  The suspense is equally thought out, and even though it wasn't about who was doing what, the suspense of what was going to happen next kept the pages flying.  Mitchell and Julianne's romance simmers quietly before reigniting full flame. 

I highly recommend this modern-day journey of forgiveness, redemption and second chances. 

4 1/2 stars
Jennifer Jones


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