"What Hope Remembers"

"When you need a new beginning, sometimes the best place to start is home.

"When Amy Somers loses her job as a lobbyist, she moves to Misty Willow, well aware that she’s crossing bridges she’d burned years before. With all the mistakes she’s made and the uncaring things she’s done–even to her own family–she can hardly believe that happiness will find her, especially when Gabe Kendall, her first crush and her first kiss, rides back into her life atop a buckskin mare.

"A former Marine, Gabe is at loose ends after serving a prison sentence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sees beyond Amy’s hard exterior to the girl he once knew and loved, and he longs to see her open her heart. Yet with his vision clouded by shame for his past and fears about the future, he finds it difficult to see the path ahead.

"But the memory of that long-ago kiss just may have the power to reignite a romance that brings out the best in both of them." (back cover)
"What Hope Remembers", the third book in the Misty Willow series by Johnnie Alexander, is a story about former highschool sweethearts, Amy and Gabe, who both return to their country roots hoping to find a fresh start in life, and unexpectedly find each other. It's a predictable book, and yet for me it lost its potential country "charm" because it lacked clarity and much of the time I found myself confused about various aspects or another (I will note I have not read the first two books in the series, which per some quick research are about relatives of Amy's, and possibly may help alleviate some confusion).

On the surface, I would argue it's a cute story: there is the memory of a classic teenage romance, life choices and consequences leading to a fork in the road, down-home hospitality and friendship, rekindled affection, forgiveness, trust, and love. But again, I had a difficult time keeping straight who was who and following some of the backstories, in part because, in the case of the main characters, some of the seemingly crucial history was kept secret and never seemed fully explained, whether in dialogue between characters or through third-person omniscient point of view for the reader; it was like watching a movie that never had the crucial conversation or flashback scene to the traumatic childhood or pivotal event. Because of this, I didn't ever really connect with the main characters especially, albeit I enjoyed how some of the others were developed, including Amy's extended family who seemed to be close-knit and enjoy spending time together often.

All in all, while I was hoping "What Hope Remembers" would be at least an easy, enjoyable read, sadly I found it too predictable and somewhat confusing to ever be able to really get into it.

Disclaimer: This book was received for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.

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