by T.L. Haddix
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When Eli Campbell is discharged after an accident ends his career in the Army, he isn’t sure what kind of homecoming to expect. Shoot, he’s not even sure what kind of homecoming he deserves. He did a lot of stupid things as a teenager, and he made a lot of rash decisions that hurt several people.
Regardless, he’s determined to set things right with his family, particularly his brother Noah. So as dismayed as he is to be facing life with the unforeseen challenges related to his accident, he’s also grateful to have a second chance. A chance to make amends for all the damage he’s done. To prove to his family and to himself that he’s a better person, a good man.
When he meets Haley Buchanan, his physical therapist, he’s turned head-over-heels. With a heart-stopping smile, a kind nature that’s like a balm for his soul, and enough sass and backbone to enchant him, she represents another example of a second chance he’d never thought to have—a second chance at love.
Haley wasn’t expecting anyone like Eli to come along, particularly not as one of her patients. She’s not prepared for the longing and need he stirs up inside her, as her life is nothing approaching simple and uncomplicated at the moment. With the weight of her elderly, invalid grandfather’s care resting on her shoulders alone, she barely has room to breathe, much less fall in love.
Once the professional complications are out of the way, though, she finds herself drawn more and more to Eli, coming to rely on his stability and warmth in a way that she’d never expected.
“Snapdragon Way” is the eighth book in the Firefly Hollow series, Women’s Fiction Romances set in Appalachia. Fair warning - it isn’t a book that deals just with Eli and Haley’s budding romance and all the tangled complications that entails. It also focuses on the rebuilding of a devastated relationship between Eli and Noah, and how the brothers have to find common ground with each other before either of them can get on with other parts of their lives. It’s about second chances and homecomings, forgiveness and hope.
Why should you read the Firefly Hollow series?
In the beginning of this year, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Firefly Hollow, the first book of what quickly became one of my favorite romance series. Oh, I know what you think : Another paranormal series? Yikes. No thank you. You couldn’t be more wrong. Far from saying that these books are flawless, they remain incredibly refreshing and heart-warming : trust me, as soon as you’ll meet the Campbells, you’ll never be able to forget them.
If the way they care deeply about each other is adorable, their teasing never fails to bring huge smiles to my lips. Truth being told, they are completely unable to mind their own business. Does that make them infuriating? Of course it does. But, more important, that makes them utterly likeable, real, and fun to follow.
I love them. I want to move in with them. I think I want to be a deer. Or a wolf. Or see the dead. Whatever, I’ll take what I’ll get, because they aren’t only nice and supportive when one of them needs it. They’re an incredible family. Period.
As for any family, even though they all have something interesting to offer, I have my favorites (Ben, Amelia and Logan, I’m pretty sure that I worship you). Sorry, should I say that I love them in the exact same way? It would be a lie, guys. I genuinely think that we’re never completely objective when reviewing books, and the way some of them relate to me on a stronger level could be completely different for you. However, they all find a place in my heart, and I can only hope that it will be the same for you.
And can I say? I’m pretty curious to know who will make your heart beat faster^^. Logan is mine, though. Just saying.
But let’s come back to the Appalachias, okay?
What a sneaky bunch, these Campbells. If I had to choose one thing that impress me the most about these books, it would have to be that they slowly sink into your heart until you fall in love without even realizing it. Indeed I was ready to give it 3 stars, maybe 3.5, because as much as I genuinely liked the first half, there were aspects that bothered me (I’ll come back to that in my review). Yet here I am, a strong 4 stars in hands and my love for this family confirmed. Sneaky sweethearts indeed.
Eli is full of guilt because of his actions toward his family back when he was a teenager and in his early years as an adult. You see, he was in couple with a woman who acted like a total sociopath…. And this, my friends, is what prevented me from fully enjoying the story at first. Let me explain : I know I can’t say that it never happens, because it does. Sometimes our love – or what we think is love – for someone drives us to act in a way we wouldn’t have otherwise. In no way does that excuse whatever mean things we do, but unfortunately it does happen. Humans, especially teenagers, tend to crave for fitting in, and it needs a strong personality, family and friendship to resist the sirens of acceptation, whether by a group, or a love partner. I do know that. Sadly, I can’t deny that the way this – now dead – woman was portrayed irked me during the first half of the book, and even if I got past it in the end (I’ll explain why after), I’m really sensitive about how women’s behaviors are described and I struggled to accept it.
How could I accept it, then? Because when I tried to switch roles and imagine how I would have reacted if the devilish character was a man, I realized that I was fucking hypocrite, because it wouldn’t have bothered me one bit. Moreover, Snapdragon Way does picture other women in a completely different way, so I was able to accept that Erika’s character wasn’t, in any case, meant to lead to a generalization that all women are bitches.
Haley appears to be our typical quiet girl, who doesn’t want to be involved in conflicts and such. However, she is aware of her strengths and doesn’t belittle herself : yes she’s pretty ; no she won’t use her charms on Eli (yet). Big deal. To be frank, I found her refreshing. Moreover, I appreciated the fact that she wouldn’t go all judgmental on other women’s dating habits, and even though her friendship with Jenna made me narrow my eyes a few times, I’m looking forward to seeing her relationship with Sophie evolve, because mark my words : Sophie is my girl. I can see it.
Sadly, as far as Campbells heroines are concerned, Haley is probably one of my least favorite. This being said, did she annoy me? No. Did I want to strangle her? No. Did I respect her opinions? Yes. If I’m being honest, even though I can’t relate to her, I know that she will move many readers. Yes, I am aware that as far as life is concerned, there’s no right choice, but the ones that will make you happy, and if anything, I respect that.
As usual in this series, family ties own the show – and what family! I can’t begin to express how much I love the Campbells. Generation after generation, their struggles and loyalty speak to me and make me care for them like few characters can. Noah, Eli’s brother, particularly interested me, and I can’t wait to read his book – because a book there will be, right? RIGHT? As Noah rightly said, family isn’t about keeping score. If there’s something in what I believe, it’s that. Noah and Eli’s relationship was heartwarming and beautiful. What can I say? Brothers always undo me.
The romance contains no instalove but a slow burn… Aren’t those the BEST? Their shyness toward each other is adorable, not to mention that there’s this *cough* annoying *cough* concept as doctor/patient no fraternization policies… Yet it doesn’t prevent them from flirting, but shhh I did not say it *wink*
Not to mention that as usual the inability of the Campbells to mind their own business led to the best embarrassed scenes that made my day 😀 (Bad, bad Anna :P)
But limiting this book to a romance would be a mistake : indeed Eli’s journey is one of forgiveness and acceptation. How to move on with your life when you don’t even know who you are anymore and what you want? How to overtake the past and create a new life without forgetting the mistakes that have been done? In the end, I appreciated that Eli was willing to redeem himself and to own his past actions.
Finally, I CAN’T WAIT TO READ NOAH AND SOPHIE’S STORY.
“She glanced at him and nodded. “I’m fine. I slept wrong last night, kinked up my hip. It’s nothing.”
The frown turned to a scowl. “How’d you manage that?”
“Well, the wild orgy didn’t help,” she said, lifting her chin. Her arms, which had been by her sides, crossed loosely over her chest as she narrowed her eyes. “I think it was the threesome with the acrobats that really put the kink in. It was worth it, though.”
Oh boy. She. Is. My. Girl.
As for Noah…
“I’m thirty-one years old, pratically a virgin and a hermit to boot, I talk to ghosts, and I have a cat. Fig [said cat], I think I need a life.”
It’s bound to be fucking awesome right?
*The book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review (thank you!). It did not, in any case, influence my opinion.*