Close to Home: Sanctuary Island #5 by Lily Everett

Close to Home: Sanctuary Island #5 by Lily Everett

Book five in the Sanctuary Island series from Lily Everett is on the blog today. Please read on for my review and excerpt of this new contemporary romance title

Close to Home

Tessa made the difficult decision to leave a marriage that was unfulfilling and secretive, even though the love was there. See, Johnny was everything she wanted in a husband: faithful, loving and protective, but he always kept her out of his deepest thoughts and dreams – and she just wanted (and deserved) more. So she set him free, and went to Sanctuary Island to set up her new life, and has been finding her footing and comfort in becoming the person she felt she was meant to be: making friends, decisions for herself, and most importantly, making choices that make her happy.

Johnny never expected Tessa would go: he loved her, he cherished her, but he couldn’t share all of his life with her: it was too dangerous. But, now she’s gone and he’s not willing to lose her. He knows that he loves her, and that she loves him, or at least he hopes she still does. So he tracks her down to Sanctuary Island, only to find that the meek and rather quiescent woman he married is all grown up, making choices and decisions with alacrity, and is even more desirable than he thought possible.

A lovely story of second chances, commitment and forgiveness, as both characters grow from their old version of a marriage and relationship into the new one. Tessa has learned that she can’t, and won’t, accept a man who is closing off large portions of his life to her, even with the best of intentions. And Johnny has to learn that you can’t truly love someone if you are hiding major parts of your life. Together they discover a balance between his need to protect and her needs to feel valued and trusted. And most of all, Johnny has hidden just HOW much he needs and wants Tessa in his life: he’s got to find a way to share these feelings, no matter how scary or unsettling, to prove that he is worth her taking another chance on him.

Wonderfully developed and written, this story shows the transformative power in honest communication of true feelings, fears and desires, as Tessa found her courage to move on for what she truly wanted, even if that meant giving up the man she loved. As Johnny realized that the love was still within his grasp, he had to learn to reach for it and face his fears to reach for the one person that makes him feel safe.


Close to Home: Sanctuary Island #5 by Lily Everett

Title: Close to Home
Author: Lily Everett
Series: Sanctuary Island #5
Also in this series: Home at Last
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published by: St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN: 1250074053
Published on: 7 February 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 304
Rated: three-half-stars
Heat: One FlameOne Flame

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The best journeys take us home….

When Tessa Alexander came to Sanctuary Island, she left behind a marriage to a man who didn’t love her the way she loved him. When she finally found the strength to set them both free, she discovered friendship and self-acceptance in her adopted hometown. Now she’s settled into a quiet life on her own—never expecting to see her husband again.

Johnny spent almost two years deep undercover, unable to let his wife into his cold, dangerous world. He’s shaken to the core when he comes home to find her gone. It’s painfully clear that Tessa is no longer the timid young woman he married—she’s become a force of nature, a brave and determined beauty. Johnny can’t let her go without a fight so he sets out to seduce his own wife. But will passion alone be enough to convince Tessa that her new life should include a second chance at happiness with a man who must learn to believe in love?

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Read an Excerpt


 Physical awareness flickered to life between them. Johnny felt the heavy beat of his blood, the sudden tightness in his jeans. Turning her hand under his, he stroked his thumb over the thin, tender skin at the inside of her wrist where her pulse fluttered. She filled his mind, his entire consciousness. There was nothing but Tessa.

“You want more, honey? All you have to do is ask.”

She shivered, her eyes darkening as desire blew her pupils wide. Lips parting, Tessa stretched up on her toes over the horse’s back and Johnny didn’t care about the thousand-pound animal between them—he had to get his mouth on her, right now.

Spearing his hands into the short wisps of hair at the back of her neck, Johnny leaned in and kissed her.

The rest of the world fell away, leaving nothing behind but Tessa’s sugar-sweet mouth, the high, surprised noises she made in the back of her throat, the clutch of her fingers in the collar of his jacket as she pulled him closer.

He hadn’t kissed her since that first day. He hadn’t wanted to push her, or to make her think all he was interested in was sex.

That was a mistake. He should have been kissing her every day. Every minute.

Clover took a step forward, jolting them out of their embrace. The horse looked curiously over his shoul- der as Tessa started to laugh. It was the laugh Johnny had seen for the first time through the bakery window, 

full throated and joyous, with Tessa’s head thrown back in abandon.

Overcome with the need to seize this moment, Johnny grabbed the currycomb and threw it in the bucket before rounding the horse to snag his wife by the hand. Tessa looked up at him, breath coming in fast pants and eyes glazed, pliantly following where he led. It was all Johnny could do not to take her down to the sawdust-covered floor and hope Clover was smart enough not to step on them.

No. Tessa was untouched. She’d been waiting for this for a long time—and her first time wasn’t going to be a literal roll in the hay. But that didn’t mean either of them could stand to wait until they found a bed.

He reached for enough patience to get out of the stall and latch the door behind them. Dumping the bucket of grooming tools by the stall door, Johnny tugged Tessa by the wrist down the barn corridor to an empty stall he’d noticed earlier. It was unoccupied, completely clear of hay except for a few pieces strewn here and there, and Johnny backed Tessa into it for a little privacy. She went willingly enough, although he could see her brain starting to come back online, awareness of what they were doing starting to show in her eyes.

If he were a good man, he’d back off and let the sexual tension clear from the air between them. Tessa, who’d had so few choices in her life, deserved to make a real choice about this, one not clouded by overwhelming sensations. Johnny was at least a good enough man to vow not to take her here and now. He was relieved to find that he still had limits.

But that didn’t mean he could stop himself from providing Tessa with a damn good argument for why she should choose him.

Why she should choose them.

One smooth step forward had Tessa pressed up against the rough wood of the wall, his hand coming up to cup the back of her head and keep her from hurting herself. He never wanted her to feel a moment’s pain, not if he could help it.

A soft smile pulled at her mouth. She turned her head far enough to nuzzle his arm, her gaze steady on his even as her cheeks flushed deep pink. She was irresistible. Johnny dipped his head, sipping kisses from her lips, small and sweet and playful to make her sigh. Her neck stretched, so vulnerably naked without the covering of her long, brown hair. The fingers of his free hand had to pet down the pale, slender length of it.

Tessa sighed into his lips, a breath with a hint of moan underneath—enough to vibrate through her throat against the sensitive tips of his fingers and reverberate through Johnny’s own chest. Hunger throbbed and ached between his legs, heavily
undeniable, but he ignored it for the moment. This was about Tessa. Tessa’s pleasure, Tessa’s awakening, Tessa’s beautiful, beloved, familiar-but-new body.



About Lily Everett

LILY EVERETT is the author of the Sanctuary Island series for St. Martin's Press. She grew up in a small town in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and now resides in Austin, Texas, where she writes full-time.


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