Title: Finding Glory by Sara Arden
Home to Glory Series Book Three
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: C+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Once upon a time, he was just a hopeless cause from the wrong side of Glory, Kansas. And he’ll be damned if he’ll let anyone drag him back down after finally clawing his way out.
Everyone knows that Gina Townsend is a saint, always taking care of everyone around her. And now she’s trying to be a mother to her six-year-old niece, Amanda Jane. But the girl’s biological father isn’t helping matters. The scruffy, gangly boy Gina remembers has returned to Glory a sexy, successful man, but Reed Hollingsworth is the only thing standing between her and losing Amanda Jane to foster care.
Betrayed that neither Townsend sister bothered to tell him he was a father until he had money, Reed’s still not about to shirk his responsibilities. So when he demands Gina move in with him as part of Amanda Jane’s custody agreement, he tries not to notice pretty much everything about her—especially the way his solemn-faced daughter laughs when they play together.
Raising a child together, Reed and Gina learn that some dreams come and go, but some are a spark that burns eternal…
Finding Glory by Sara Arden is an entertaining friends to lovers romance. This third novel in the Home to Glory utilizes the ever popular marriage of convenience plot device and the resulting story is a mix of sweet romance and angsty drama.
Gina Townsend and Reed Hollingsworth are childhood friends who lost touch years earlier after Reed left town. Gina also left town but after her sister Crystal’s death, she returned to Glory to raise her young niece, Amanda Jane. She is struggling to make ends meet, working two jobs while also going to college when she decides to sue Reed for child support. Reed is unaware he is Amanda Jane’s father, but he is more than willing to be an active participant in his daughter’s life. Gina and Reed are surprised when the judge presiding over their case suggests a marriage of convenience as an alternative to shared custody. Although they both have a few trepidations about a loveless union, they do agree this is the best solution for Amanda Jane and they quickly wed. However, Gina and Reed are not prepared for their mutual attraction or for the emotional landmines waiting for them.
Gina will do pretty anything to make Amanda Jane happy even if it means marrying the man she has been in love with most of her life. She is determined to give her niece a better life than she had growing up and marriage to Reed will do just that. But she knows trusting him will not be easy since she had a ringside seat to his struggles with addiction and she is afraid that he will eventually relapse. Her fears lead to a seemingly endless cycle of pulling him close only to push him away and although she is aware that what she is doing is unfair to Reed, Gina cannot quite seem to break this pattern.
Reed has worked hard to overcome his addiction and make something of himself. Although he is wealthy beyond belief, he still feels like the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. He does a good job of hiding his insecurities but his fears keep him from fully trusting people. Reed is beyond thrilled to be a dad but at the first sign of trouble, his first instinct is to run. This plays into Gina’s fears and their fragile relationship is ill-equipped to withstand their inability to trust each other.
Gina and Reed’s relationship is a mix of easygoing friendship and tentative romance. They both tend to over think things but they never seem to work through their individual issues. Their problems become repetitive and their lack of progress is incredibly frustrating. For every step forward they make, they end up taking two steps back and the emotional merry go round begins yet again. The story becomes so bogged down in angst that it feels like Gina and Reed will never find their way to any semblance of happily ever after.
Despite the slow progression of Gina and Reed’s relationship, Finding Glory is a cute love story. The secondary cast of characters is quite charming and very easy to like. Gina and Reed are sympathetic protagonists and it is easy to cheer them on as they try to make peace with their respective pasts. Their romance is believable and their love scenes are very sensual. Although it is the third novel in the Home to Glory series, it can be read as a standalone.