Title: Against the Odds by Laura Drake
Publisher: Harlequin Superromance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author
A love stronger than fear…
Former army sniper Douglas “Bear” Steele wants only to be left alone to live a quiet, peaceful existence in the small town of Widow’s Grove. So his attraction to Hope Sanderson is unexpected and inconvenient. Having recently survived a violent bank robbery, Hope has vowed to seize each day and leave behind her safe, ordered life. As Hope and Bear help each other heal, their desire turns to love. But with their lives moving in opposite directions, can they find a balance to let go of the past and embrace the future…together?
Against the Odds by Laura Drake is a poignant and moving novel of healing, new beginnings and love.
Hope Sanderson has always done exactly what is expected of her but after surviving a bank robbery, she decides it is time to take charge of her life. Although her mom is now deceased, a lifetime of hypercritical commentary leaves Hope second guessing her judgment and her decisions, but she is determined to embrace everything life has to offer. Beginning a new job at a Wilderness Outfitter is just the first of many changes she is making. However it is not until she meets Doug “Bear” Steele at a trauma support group that Hope really steps outside of her comfort zone. The big burly biker is just the type of man her mother warned her about but Hope finds it impossible to resist her unexpected attraction to the emotionally wounded ex-con.
Like Hope, Bear is also forced into new situations that make him uncomfortable but unlike Hope, he is not exactly a willing participant. One of the conditions of parole is attending the trauma support group and for someone who has become a virtual recluse, these meetings are excruciating. Bear grudgingly reveals bits and pieces of his past, but he has absolutely no intention of discussing the real problems that are plaguing him. He is also hesitant to become involved with any of the other members or their problems but Bear finds himself reluctantly offering support once everyone begins discussing what brought them to the meetings. He is also drawn to Hope and although he feels he is completely out of her league, Bear works up the courage to ask her out and he is stunned when she says yes.
As the weeks pass, Bear and Hope tentatively begin seeing each other outside of their group sessions. Hope is pleasantly surprised to discover that Bear is a gentle giant who is quite protective. Bear still feels like he is completely unworthy of Hope but he is unable to stay away from her. Although they are an unlikely couple, they are soon spending as much time together as possible and as their attraction deepens, so do their feelings for each other. However, Bear still remains closed off and isolated and Hope grows concerned that he will never be able to work through the trauma he experienced during his tour in Afghanistan. Bear becomes defensive and angry with her gentle prodding but he still cannot bring himself to open up. Will their relationship survive after Bear’s worst fears are realized and he withdraws from everyone who cares about him?
Heartfelt and engaging, Against the Odds is an absolutely wonderful novel that beautifully demonstrates the importance of making peace with the past in order to move forward. The characters are complex and multi-layered with realistic flaws and all too human frailties. The storyline is unique and features true to life issues that are easy to relate to. Bear’s anguish over what happened in Afghanistan is heartbreaking but it is incredibly heartwarming watching him break free from his self-imposed prison. Another truly captivating romance by Laura Drake that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend.