4.5* – I wasn’t planning to read this book now, since I have ARCs to review asap, but I had forgotten to add them to my reader, and I was already in bed and too lazy to get up, and I figured they could wait a couple of days. I’m very glad I followed my laziness, for once, since this book was exactly what I needed to end the week. I’ve said before that Radclyffe‘s books are predictable, and I’m not saying it as a bad thing, I like that she’s a reliable author, someone I can count on. And while I have a few reservations about the Rivers Community series (the main one probably being that everyone is too perfect), I nevertheless like it a lot.
This instalment’s main characters are veterinarian Sidney “Val” Valentine, whom the readers have already had (not completely flattering) glimpses of in previous books, and Brody Clark, whom I don’t remember reading about before, which can be seen as a little strange since she seems to have played an important role in the Rivers family as a teenager, but it can also be explained by the fact that she left town without a word as soon as she was eighteen and joined the military, where she became a flight medic. Coming back is not her choice, the team she works with now that she’s retired is sent to the Rivers hospital, and she finds out about it way too late to back away. Fortunately for her, her best friend Jane moves with her. Despite not knowing her past and the reasons Brody left home in such a radical way, Jane knows her friend and how to be there for her. On the other hand are the people Brody left behind, and the pain and anger her leaving caused. Flann Rivers, for one, is not exactly ready to forgive. The reasons which pushed Brody to leave in the first place are still there too, and they’re way more dangerous than Flann’s resentment. Good things also come of Brody’s return, however, and the main one is meeting Val. The girl teenage Brody was obsessed with, the girl who doesn’t really remember her, not because she was not interesting at the time but because Val was a snob, and probably a mean girl to some extent. Like Brody, coming back home wasn’t her choice, but she’s finding it a lot more to her liking than she expected.
Love to the Rescue is both a second chance story and a tale of redemption, but not in the usual way. It’s not exactly a second chance romance since Brody and Val barely knew each other as teenagers. The second chance Brody gets is with family, learning to trust, learning that trust also extends to allowing the people you care about to make decisions for themselves. Making bad choices is human, it’s all about forgiving oneself and others for those bad choices, learning from them to not repeat them. Brody is broken on that front (and probably others, who isn’t), she knows it but doesn’t know how to fix it, yet she wants to. That’s part of the redemption arc, but Val’s got hers too, leaving the angry and, in some ways, spoiled teenager behind, showing herself as the kind and caring woman she has become. I wish the story had been a little more about her journey, which, while less dramatic than Brody’s, could have been interesting as well. The ending felt a bit rushed too.
I liked the chemistry between Val and Brody immediately, I liked the secondary stories too, which, unlike in the previous episode, were much more balanced, not taking over the main arc too much. The sex scenes are also much better than in the previous book, I thought, much more real.
Yet I think what I enjoyed the most was how familiar it all felt, not only the people (that’s what’s great with series), but the places. I know the Rivers hospital almost as well as if I worked there, and it sometimes feels as if I’d been to Ida and Edward’s home a lot as a teenager. When Brody walked to the treehouse, I knew she was going there and I knew the way. I guess I needed that coming-home feeling almost as much as Brody and Val.