So…I’ve talked about this book in my last post, and as you all know I was very excited to read this. I always get nervous about reading a book that I’m very excited about because my excitement tends to get the better of me. And sometimes, I’d end up not liking the book and then I’d feel bummed out about it.

Thankfully, this book delivered on everything it promised. There’s romance, and the feels…oh my God, my feels for this book. Simply put, This Heart of Mine captured my attention and my heart from beginning to end. So…5 stars!

I haven’t read any of the previous books in the series before but I’ve read enough reviews to know that a lot of readers weren’t happy with some of the sub-plots running through the last two books. I had no expectations regarding this book. I loved the blurb and I thought it was going to be an emotional read.

I was right.

Phoenix Fuller has spent the better part of her life in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. She came from the wrong side of the tracks, with a hoarder of a mother, when she fell in love with the town’s golden boy Riley Stinson. When Riley broke up with her, she became desperate especially when she found out she’s pregnant but she never killed anyone.

Now Phoenix is back, and all she wanted to do was to continue to live in Whisper Creek in order to spend time with her grown son. People weren’t welcoming of her especially Riley. But she’s determined to live her life in Whiskey Creek.

Riley Stinson wasn’t sure Phoenix coming back to Whiskey Creek is a good idea. He’s still wasn’t sure about her story 17 years ago. But the more he got to know the woman she’s become, the more Riley remembered why he fell in love with her all those years ago.

This book just about slayed me. The residual angst between Riley and Phoenix is palpable throughout the book but it wasn’t what made this emotional for me. It was the way the author completely wrote the character of Phoenix. She was the epitome of a BROKEN woman.

Gah! While she was already an outcast before and suffered insecurities, she still had some fight in her but after spending 16 years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit changed her. This was the most heartbreaking part of the book.

If it had been any other heroine with less than horrible circumstances, I would have been annoyed by how she was on herself or how insecure she was or how she skewed her perspective was. But the author did a great job in writing that aspect of her personality, clearly outlining the reasons why she’s acting the way she is. And I can’t help but feel for her.

I also appreciated the fact that the author focused on just one couple this time. Riley and Phoenix had a lot to work through. Riley had to grovel and win back Phoenix trust and the way he did it made me swoon. I really loved how Riley have also grown as a character. The moment he realized that Phoenix was it for him was just heart-wrenching.

My minor quibble was that (SPOILER) after it was revealed who really killed Riley’s girlfriend that night, there were no repercussions for the family who made it their mission to destroy Phoenix. It was just left open-ended. I wanted to know how Riley’s family plan to make it up to Phoenix for the way they treated her. Heck, I wanted them to apologize to her.Despite my issues with that, I was satisfied with how this one was wrapped up.

Overall, this was an emotional, character driven, second-chance at romance read with a very satisfying HEA.

ARC provided by Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.