Breathe by Donna Alward
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd
Length: Short Story (125 pgs)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Water Lily
The first time they broke each others’ hearts. Now they have a second chance…
Doing what was expected didn’t get Anna Morelli anything but a bad marriage. Now that her life has fallen apart there’s only one place she can think of to regroup and figure out what comes next. Two Willows, the winery owned by the only man she could ever rely on. Her oldest friend. And her worst mistake.
Growing up as the poor boy didn’t stop Jace Willow from falling for Anna one hot, sultry summer. Back then, his best efforts to prove himself worthy of the Morelli standard fell just short. While it killed him to see her marry someone else, he made beating the Morellis at their own game his life’s work. And he’s excelled at it.
When Anna shows up on his doorstep, their painful history pales in the face of her need for a roof over her children’s heads—and some peace. The heat of their renewed passion is healing, but it burns away layers of hard-won emotional distance, reopening old wounds. Threatening their one last chance to rebuild their love on the shattered pieces of their broken hearts…
Anna Morelli has learned many things in the years since she married Stefano and not all of them easy or fun. Her self-esteem has taken a beating, but instead of retreating from the pain she rushes into more. Newly widowed with two young children to care for, Anna tells herself that bringing her children to Jace Willow’s vineyard will give her the chance to rest and regroup before moving forward. But it’s a lie. Jace was her biggest mistake and her largest regret. Their relationship isn’t one that will give comfort, it’s wrought with issues that, if she stays with him, must be faced.
Because of their past, Jace is friend, savior and fellow combatant. He knows her well enough to make each verbal cut bleed. And sometime wounds must be lanced in order to heal. Anna needs to learn how to forgive herself for past mistakes and move forward. She needs to face the past and get Jace to face it as well if she wants a future with him. And she does.
This, whether she admits it to herself or not, is why she takes her children to Jace’s. Everything else she tells herself is a sad attempt to avoid facing the truth.
Donna Alward does a great job showing how people lie to themselves to save their feelings and soothe their egos. Both Jace and Anna have plenty of baggage with their names on it. It is only in opening those suitcases and examining each item inside can these two people find their happily ever after.
While the format is standard romantic fare and the ending a foregone conclusion, what these two are hiding and how they work through their problems make Breathe different and well worth reading. Alward packs this short book with great emotional depth. I recommend it.