Monday, May 24, 2021

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

Let’s take a little trip back to 2017 for today’s review. I’m enjoying getting caught up with Courtney’s backlist. Just Look Up is book one in her Harbor Pointe series, set in Michigan.

Here’s the summary:

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home—a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work—something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along—if only she’d just look up.

And now, my review:

I love reunion romances, even more so when we learn that one of the two had a crush on the other person earlier in their lives. It’s like a built-in chemistry boost, especially if the object of affection had no idea.

Our heroine struggles with insecurities, and she has never felt she belonged, even with her family. When her family members favor forgiveness for the sake of unity, she’s left out. She’ll either have to choose forgiveness too or continue to be an outsider.

She feels most secure at work, where she hides from everything else. Some readers may relate. She also hides behind her phone, and I liked the double entendre of looking up from her phone as well as looking up toward God. Great themes.

We got to know Ryan a little, not nearly like we dove into Lane’s psyche. But I was glad. Given he was a war vet, his contribution to the story could have been violent or heavier. What we do learn of him is his nobility. He’s an excellent big brother, and he fits right into the community the heroine left behind. He knows how to accept grace, despite his rough childhood.

Because the heroine’s entire strength lies in her work, she lets it rule her. She doesn’t set boundaries. She works too many hours, never has downtime. But the beachy setting of Harbor Pointe interferes with that, along with her family and Ryan who can clearly see how unhealthy her compulsions are.

She rebuilt herself from her childhood years. This was relatable and made her respectable, even as we watched her struggle to change, to let go. I felt the story needed a little smoothing over, and the last quarter felt rushed. But generally, I enjoyed the novel. And I recommend it! Courtney has a way of inserting profound statements that are relatable and poignant like few authors I’ve read lately. I’m working my way through all her books!

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