Kristen Ashley’s Magdalene Series goes out strong with this reunited lovers story. Recently widowed Cady Moreland has made her way to Magdalene, Maine to start a new life. Her new start, however, is purposefully in the same town as a long-lost love from eighteen years ago. Reconciling isn’t her primary purpose in relocating, but it’s definitely a major motivation. Sometimes you have to just move on from young love and sometimes you pack up everything and give it a go at age forty, even though it’s the longest of long shots. Will Coert, the dashing town sheriff, be able to put aside his anger and see that the best thing he ever had just walked back into his life? Well, duh. This is a Kristen Ashley book.
The story opens with Cady touring and then buying a lighthouse. The damn lighthouse is practically a character in the book. We get to read all about its history, state of disrepair, and detailed descriptions of every single room, fence, out-building, etc. Cady falls in love with it and quickly gets to settling down during the renovation/decorating portion of owning a new home. What she doesn’t do is go looking for Coert. She has to get her courage up and she’s just not there yet. It certainly doesn’t stop Coert from tracking her down.
Coert is under some misconceptions and doesn’t take Cady’s presence well. Even when he wants to be an ass, though, there’s still something about Cady that gets under his skin and makes him want to be kind to her. Coert and Cady’s youthful romance was full of drama and intrigue, things went really sour really suddenly, and they both walked away with their hearts in tatters. Their past together is told partially through flashbacks and partially through Cady and Coert talking things out in the present. The flashbacks are distracting and not really essential to the story at hand. They luckily dissipate before the halfway mark is reached.
The long separation is not a trope that I’m particularly fond of and I was especially wary of it here after Ashley’s last take on the trope. Fortunately, it works for this story, as Coert and Cady both took the time in between to grow up and mature. Coert settled into a great job and had a daughter he dearly loves. Cady became a part of a big, beautiful family that loves her just as much as she loves them. They both felt the loss of each other, but they didn’t simply stop living. Another component to a successful long separation is that it needs to make sense that the characters wouldn’t try to reconcile earlier and that’s successfully achieved here as well. Coert was too angry and prideful and ashamed to go looking for the woman he thought abandoned him. Cady was too busy dealing with loved ones who needed her to go chasing after a man who betrayed her.
The absolute hands-down best part of this book is Cady’s family. Each and every one of them will throw the hell down for one another. Cady’s best friend, Kath, is the undisputed MVP of this book. There’s a part where she reads Cady the riot act for cutting Coert far more slack than she cuts herself, and I was sitting in my apartment yelling, “Yes, girl! Give it to her!” She’s great. They’re all great. Kristen Ashley always does a good job of giving her heroines a support system of loved ones and friends, and she knocks it out of the park with this one.
This book is not perfect. It’s got major pacing problems, especially with the flashbacks dragging the first quarter down to an interminable pace. Overall, it is a really solid Kristen Ashley book. The hero didn’t make me want to throw him through a wall (well, present-version-Coert didn’t, young-Coert definitely needed a smack upside the head), which is always a plus. It’s also really, really nice to see forty-year-olds not treated as decaying sacks of flesh whose best years are behind them. Two thumbs up, Kristen Ashley.
After a painful loss, Cady Moreland is coming to Magdalene to start the next chapter of her life. A chapter that began eighteen years ago but had a heartbreaking ending. The time in between was full of family and friendship, but Cady could never get the man she fell in love with all those years ago out of her heart.
Coert Yeager has learned to live without the girl who entered his life right when she shouldn’t and exited delivering a crippling blow he never would have suspected. The time in between was full of failing to find what he was missing…and life-altering betrayal.
But when that girl shows up in Magdalene and buys the town’s beloved lighthouse, even if Coert wants to avoid her, he can’t. A fire in town sparks a different kind of flame that won’t be ignored.
As Cady and Coert question the actions of the two young adults they once were thrown into earth-shattering circumstances, can they learn from what came in between and find each other again?