Longtime category romance author Thayne turns in a solid single title in this book. Nuanced grown-up characters fill a small town that manages to avoid being either overly sweet or self-righteously narrow-minded. The plot is a standard one, handled very well, leaving the reader with a sigh of satisfaction.
Claire Bradford has a full life with two children, a bead shop and a crotchety mother. She loves her house, her town, her kids and her dog. If things are a little tense around the edges since her divorce, with her ex and his new bride also living in the small town of Hope’s Crossing, at least having their father nearby has made it easier on the kids. Then one day, she finds that her store has been robbed and trashed, with all the beads dumped on the floor and the new police chief — her best friend’s pesky little brother — comes by to investigate. No longer the troubled teen she knew 15 years ago, he’s now a very striking man. Riley McKnight has not forgotten Claire. He was crazy for her in high school and she is just as lovely now. But people in a small town remember everything, including every bit of wildness he was part of after his father deserted the family. It seems he will never be able to come home again, much less have the girl his heart has always yearned for. Claire likes that Riley is the first person to see her as something other than a caretaker, but will she be willing to risk her secure place in the community? (HQN, Jun., 384 pp., $7.99)