Return to Glory by Sara Arden: Review

September 17, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★

I was provided with an advance reader copy by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Any and all opinions expressed in this review are mine alone. I received no financial incentives to review this book.

Return to Glory by Sara Arden: ReviewReturn to Glory by Sara Arden
Series: Home to Glory #1
Published by Harlequin HQN on August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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In Glory, Kansas, the best bakery in three counties may not only bring together ingredients for sweet treats, but be the place where—through the powerful mix of friendship, community and a well-stocked kitchen—a wounded hero can forge a forever kind of love.

Jack McConnell's back in the hometown he left behind five years ago, battle-scarred and feeling like half a man. But Betsy Lewis only sees the hero who saved her life and set her heart on fire. Now she's burning to save his life in return. She'll use every trick she's got up her sleeve, from her generous natural assets to her talent for baking, to coax Jack out from the bottom of his whiskey bottle.

At first, Jack responds to Betsy like any red-blooded man would. He's always denied his attraction to the innocent girl he used to know, but he's returned to find Betsy's grown into a full-on woman with strength enough for both of them. Until Jack realizes the only way to conquer his demons and be worthy of the hero's mantle she's pinned to his shoulders is to save Betsy one last time—from himself.

I haven’t reviewed much of late, as my real world unfortunately had to take precedence for a little while. However, now I am back on track and raring to go. My first review for today is Return to Glory, a great new contemporary romance from Sara Arden (who also writes as Saranna DeWylde).

This isn’t just a story about coming home to a physical place (in this case, the town of Glory), but returning to a state of emotional health and finding love and beauty in life. There are moments in Return to Glory that are darker and deeper than you might be used to, and believe me, your heart might break a little a time, but Sara Arden has managed to imbue this story with a real sense of hope and some beautiful romantic moments.

So, what did I think of Return to Glory?

The connection between Betsy and Jack is undeniable. Their original friendship and bond was forged when Jack saved Betsy’s young life, but this is definitely not a simple case of hero worship. It evolved and grew throughout the course of the story, and I loved seeing them help each other through their dark times to a very richly deserved HEA.

Betsy is a wonderful mix of sweet, vulnerable and gentle, with a fair pinch of feisty and tenacious. I loved that she didn’t shrink away from Jack and the darkness that is in his world, and that she wanted to stay and fight to get him back to himself.

Jack’s strength is one of the most obvious things that struck me about his character. To survive what he has, and even get to that point where he returns to Glory, it says to me there is a good man under all that darkness. Sara Arden has done a great job in showing his journey and not sugarcoating his pain.

I totally believed in Betsy and Jack as a couple, and despite what they both had to go through in order to come together, I couldn’t help but come away from reading this with a great feeling of positivity. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between Betsy and Jack, and I can understand why some readers might find this a little too much, however these two have to overcome themselves before they can be together, so that wasn’t a great concern for me.

The characters that inhabit the world of Glory are fantastic, and there are some definite stories floating around there – I am really hoping that Caleb and India’s story is not too far off. I am very much looking forward to reading more about this town and its people.

Return to Glory is a very sweet and emotional read, and a fantastic start to what promises to be a great new series!

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