Cover Image: Since You've Been Gone

Since You've Been Gone

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Leah Williams is the last of her group of friends still unmarried (and this is a romance novel, so we all know what that means). For now, she wants to reopen her grandfather’s store, the WIFI (Want It, Find It … not what we now think of as WiFi) in her hometown of Heritage, Michigan. And that means working with her high school nemesis and now building co-owner, Jon Kensington.

You can only fail so many times. That was her theory, so after two big failures in her life, a win had to be around the corner.

Jon has returned to Heritage both to take over the family business, and to help his sister, Abby, get through school after being expelled from boarding school. He’s always liked Leah so wants to help … but convincing her his feelings are genuine might take some work.

Since You’ve Been Gone also had a secondary romance, and I have to admit I found this one more compelling. Madison Westmore is the daughter of the now-deceased town drunk, so she’s back in town to spruce up and sell her childhood home, then get on with life with her unborn daughter. She needs help so hires new-in-town Colby to paint.

Christian music start Colby Marc has escaped the collapse of his music career and is hiding with his old friend Nate. He quickly falls for Madison, but has to convince his friends that she’s not the mean girl they remember from high school, and convince her she’s worth loving.

Yes, I’m always a sucker for a bad-girl-turned-good story, because it’s a picture of redemption.
I found the Leah/Jon romance a little annoying. Jon knew trust was one of Leah’s issues, yet kept breaking her trust by not telling her important things. The other reason I found it slightly annoying is kind of my fault—I thought her central issue was going to be her belief that she’d been living someone else’s life and needed to live her own. But it was more that she kept quitting, and that didn’t resonate with me as much (maybe she kept quitting because she realised she was living someone else’s dreams, not her own. That could have worked. But that’s not what I saw).

But I really enjoyed the Madison/Colby romance. Madison is a very new Christian who is still living with the consequences of her old life. I love a good redemption story, and this one definitely appealed to me. I found Madison a much more relatable character than Leah.

This book is part of the Restoring Heritage series, and readers who have read the earlier books will recognise several of the characters. In fact, this is one series it’s best to read all of and read in order (yes, this is a standalone). Series readers will also remember Otis, the hippo statue that’s the town mascot … and which mysteriously moves around the town square. Spoiler: one of the highlights of Since You’ve Been Gone is finding out Otis’s secret.

All in all, this is a solid contemporary Christian romance, and definitely recommended for fans of Tari Faris’s Restoring Heritage series.

Thanks to Baker Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
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This was an uplifting book and I really enjoyed reading about Leah and Jonathan, Madison and Colby. This can be read as a standalone but it's part of a series so I would quite like to go back and read the others.
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This book is full of second chances. What more can be said about an inspirational book that lets you know second chances are out there to be taken advantage of, written by an author who throughly knows her characters? This is in a set of novels, but can be read as a stand alone.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
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Leah Williams, Caroline's twin, returns to her hometown with a self-dose of failure and determination to succeed. Her former rival and former pro basketball star, Jon Kennsington, is largely blocking the path to her newest dreams. Jon has dreams of his own and surprising similarities of self-doubt, abandonment, and betrayal. 

Also returning home for a brief stay to address inheritance issues is Madison Westmore, full of secrets and sturdy defense wall.  Colby Marc is running from recent betrayal, too. In these and recurring characters of the town, Faris loads readers with doss of truth and wisdom sprinkled throughout an entertaining and satisfying visit to Heritage.
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I enjoyed reading Since You’ve Been Gone, the third book in Tari Faris’ Restoring Heritage series. The story can be read as a stand-alone, but I’d recommend, if possible, to read the books in order. The series story arc follows the restoration of the town and the creation of a town square.

We finally meet Leah again, who has returned from Costa Rica where she was doing mission work with her brother. She is the last of her close group of friends to still be single, and she’s wistfully watching them move on to the marriage and babies stage of life. Caroline is Leah’s twin sister who we’ve met in earlier books in the series.

Jon has had feelings for Leah since high school. He’s a professional basketball player who recently returned from Spain, and he’s had custody of his seventeen year old sister since they lost the parents. He’s determined to save his late father’s business in Heritage, and help Leah revive the family retail business that Leah and Carolyn closed down a few years ago.

Leah has trust issues, and believes Jon hated her in high school. She’s a bit prickly at times when he’s around, and their romance has hurdles from their shared past to overcome. Jon is patient with Leah, and their romance follows an enemies-to-more story arc. 

I loved the romantic subplot with Madison and Colby. Madison was engaged to Thomas in book 1, You Belong With Me, and she left town after she split up with Thomas. Madison returns to Heritage after her father passes away. With a reputation as a wild child, Madison wants to hide her unplanned pregnancy and impending single mother status from both the judgmental townsfolk and the means girls in the clique friend group that includes Leah. Colby is a Christian music star who’s hiding out in Heritage with his friend, Nate, to avoid the spotlight from a scandal connected to his band.

The meet cute between Madison and Colby is fun, and their romance is one of my favorite pairings in the series. I loved Madison’s journey to faith in the story. I recommend Since You’ve Been Gone to readers who like enemies to love romance stories with a relevant faith element that addresses real-to-life issues.
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This is the third novel in the Restoring Heritage series. I’ve enjoyed being part of this small-town community’s restoration. This is a quaint beautiful community with a cast of interesting, fun, flawed, cast of quirky characters I liked hanging around. I enjoyed seeing them learn, heal, and grow along with and through their beautiful community projects.

Leah Williams has made her way back home in hopes of reviving the families WIFI business. She has many obstacles to overcome, the first is to face Jonathan Kensington, whose family owns part of her business. Problem, Leah can’t seem to forget how he treated her in High School. Yes, people change but not that much, right?

Jon Kensington has responsibilities he never thought he would have, but when his father passed away, it changed everything. He was responsible for the care of his younger sister and has him step into running the Heritage Fruits company. He was doing ok until Leah Williams came into town. Furthermore, he thought he was over her, but when they talked the old feelings started to surface. Why didn’t she like him? He always liked her. Unexpected sparks start to fly between Leah and Jon. They both have changed since high school.  They soon realize they both must step out on faith and do the right thing, no matter what.

I adored the secondary story of Colby Marc whose friends with the pastor in Heritage and stays with him a while to clear his head. It’s there he meets Madison Westmore, who’s come back to Heritage to fix up her family’s home and sell it. Madison wants to shake the memories of this home and start fresh again. Besides once this small town finds out her secret, they won’t have anything to do with her. It wasn’t like she was nice to any of them in high school. She had changed, but no one would give her a chance to show them. She had been up front with Colby in hopes it would send him running.

I love how this author whisks readers on an adventure in Heritage, Michigan as the town and its people continue to change and grow. I love how the author crafts her stories to naturally include a spiritual thread that shows hope for the hopeless and giving people and themselves second chances. The author makes you feel part of the journey and made me want to go and visit Heritage. This would make for a fun read, but also one that would work well for your book club pick.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog www.bookfun.org
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With its uplifting theme of second chances–in love and in faith–Since You’ve Been Gone is one inspiring read. While tackling deep issues of childhood scars and fear of being hurt, grieving the loss of loved ones, and trying to succeed in business, Ms. Faris still managed to achieve a tone of lightness and hope that made reading this third book in her Restoring Heritage series easy and comforting.   
 
This is the first book by Tari Faris that I’ve read and I’m impressed with her ability to seamlessly weave two wonderfully sweet love stories in one novel. I especially appreciate the strong sense of family and community that shone throughout the book. All the charms of the small town setting were highlighted so well. The bit about Otis, the moving brass hippo, was particularly cute and heartwarming. I truly hope Heritage, Michigan exists because I want to go there for a visit. 
 
"Love is letting someone in and trusting them even though they have the potential to break your heart.”
 
Leah and Jon’s rocky romance is both endearing and frustrating. It’s sweetened by swoon-worthy gestures yet soured by all the misunderstandings. Jon’s courtship of Leah, who he loved since high school, is complicated by his struggles with his sister, his conflict with his uncle regarding the running of the business, and his own insecurities about his readiness to lead the company his father built. Leah’s fear of getting hurt warred with her desire to be loved for who she is, quirks and all. Past familial drama did a number on her and caused her to be wary of love. Thankfully, supportive siblings and friends helped bring the two together for their much-deserved happily ever after. 
 
"I love you and every broken piece about you and the fact you’re letting God heal that brokenness. And I hope you can grow to love every broken pieces about me.”
 
I liked Leah and Jon’s story but it was Madison and Colby’s romance that really captivated me. Of the two, the latter is more faith-centric. Damaged by abuse and finding affirmation in the wrong places, Madison took a self-destructive path in her youth. Her reluctant return to the town where she thought herself unwelcome and her rediscovery of her faith with the help of Colby and some unexpected new friends make a compelling story. The music she and Colby created was beautiful and profound. If it’s a real recorded song, I’ll buy it. 
 
I enjoyed this book, especially its earworm of a title, and will seek out the first two in the series.
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Headlining this sweet Christian romance is the relationship between Leah and Jonathan. They were attracted to each other way back when, and now that Leah is back in Heritage, Michigan to restore and reopen a store that she had owned with her sister, the embers of that attraction are fanned.

While their story is compelling in so many ways, and reveals a lot about how one's faith can seamlessly be part of life, I really connected more to Colby and Madison. She had so much to deal with, being pregnant and not married, as well as the burden of how people in the town had looked at her when she was a rather wild teen. And maybe that's the connection I made because I was more like her right after high school than Leah. The gentle way that Colby treated Madison and eventually won her over was a special part of the story.

Even though I'm not a huge fan of Christian fiction, I enjoyed this story very much. I think because the religious elements were presented as a natural part of the people's lives. I highly recommend the book.
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This was my first book by Tari Faris, and I enjoyed it very much. The story was good and I could sympathize with the characters. Like most romance stories, it was a little bit predictable, but less than many and the sweetness of the story and characters made me not mind too much. I also liked the supporting characters and just generally enjoyed the writing style. I look forward to reading more books by Tari Faris in the future.
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This story seems to have the theme of coming back home and that is where you will find your second chance at love and life. This is the third in the series and we do get visits from previous characters. There were also two couples to watch. Two women came back to Heritage, one being a so called bad girl coming home and the other one trying to open and restore her grandfather's store. 

I liked both couples and their stories kept me interested. But Jonathan Kensington was my favorite character. He knew what he wanted, he was determined yet not at all a pushy guy. I just found his character very romantic and yes swoony. He didn't sugar coat things, he said what he said and he meant it. He was very open about his feelings, past and present, with Leah. And Leah pretty much did not believe him at first, but he did not change how he felt or what he said.

Leah was a girl coming back home after trying to find herself elsewhere. She is very creative and she wants to reopen her grandfather's store. Jon plays a very big role in her business decisions and he really does have a head for business. I liked watching them as a team working alongside together and falling in love.

All the characters are doing their best to live life and they have a lot going on individually. We really get to know them and I found this story to be seamlessly told.

I was provided a copy of this novel from Revell Publishing through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
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Looking for a sweet, Hallmark-style romance? Then look no further than this series. While this is the third in the series, I am now intrigued and will have to go back and read the first two books. This book totally stands on its own, you would just learn more about some of the other characters that play a minor role.

We meet two couples in this book (or soon to be coupled) Jon and Leah and Colby and Madison. All but Colby grew up in this area and knew each other in school. That doesn't mean that they liked each other, you know how petty high school can get. But that is the great thing about time, we all mature and that includes these characters. They also become better versions of themselves due to more life experience and the realization that maybe life isn't so bad as they remember it from years gone by.

I loved the wit, sarcasm, and friendships that emerged from this story. Leah is one tough nut to crack and is very determined (perhaps rigid) when it comes to revitalizing the WiFi shop her grandparents owned. She has a great idea but being stuck in the past is not the way to move forward and create a successful venture. Jon only wants to help, but sometimes his pride, or maybe it is his love for Leah, gets in the way. Not that he doesn't have a lot on his own plate including a sister that is acting out after the loss of their parents, and an Uncle that might be undermining the business he inherited from his father. He definitely has a lot of plates up in the air and it would only take one to bring them all down. However, that is where friends come in and help balance the load.

Madison was a troubled youth and while she is back in town to clean up her father's estate, she is ready to leave at the first opportunity. That is until she meets Colby, a disgraced singer looking for refuge in Heritage for the time being. Madison is a prime example of someone that has changed and needs understanding and guidance so that she can realize that maybe if she opens herself up to others that she might find acceptance.

There is even a little bit of a mystery with Otis the hippo statue that moves and then disappears. I loved the story that emerged from the history of that statue and how and why it disappeared. It definitely kept the town guessing.

I enjoyed all of the characters and the interactions that expanded the story and brought dimension and depth. There is an underlying theme that faith will make all things possible if you only trust in a higher power. The story flows well between the two interconnected love stories and those that surround them. This is a perfect book for those that are looking for a book that is sweet, Christian, and romantic.

We give this book 5 paws up.
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SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE is an enchanting two for the price of one contemporary romance straight out of the Hallmark playbook. (Which I am ALL for. I may have watched 3 Hallmark movies today!)

Our first couple is Jon and Leah. The romance between these two characters is a great example of the one of my favorite romance tropes, Enemies to Lovers. The sparks fly off the page right away between Jon and Leah. Turns out, Jon and Leah went to high school together, but never really got along all that well due to some miscommunications. Now Leah needs Jon's help to save her family store. Here's a great quote showing off the sparks!
"Do I know you?" (Leah)
Maybe it was a little immature, but she was in no mood for a reunion. She glanced at the departures board as another flight's status flipped to canceled.
Jon nudged her shoulder with his. "I know you know who I am, Leah."
Sigh. Ms. Faris had me at Jon's sarcasm!

The second couple in this novel is Madison and Colby. These two are the Insta-love couple in the novel. I'm always skeptical of people who fall in love in a matter of days. Do the characters even know each other? But what brings together this couple is Madison needs help to fix up her late father's house for sale. And Colby needs some 'normal' after he's singing career hit rock bottom.

The writing in SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE is wonderful. The plot is nicely paced throughout. Each of the main four characters are narrators in the novel. I was emotionally attached to the novel and the town of Heritage right away. The characters are well-developed and engaging. I genuinely appreciated the growth shown by all four characters by the end of the novel.
What really stood out to me while reading this novel were the life lessons that the characters learn, and in turn, that I could really take to heart. Here are two of the lessons:
"Everything you choose to love comes with the risk of heartbreak"
"Failure can be a good thing, but you have to learn from it and fall forward. Let the failure push you on to something greater."
From me, Lesson #1 can apply to not only romance, but to friendship as well. Yes, putting yourself out there comes with a risk. But also comes with the possibility of a great reward. And, like Leah, I really should put myself out there more and trust others. I love the idea behind Lesson #2, learning from failure and the visual of falling forward. Both lessons are very positive and powerful.

SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE is the third novel in the Restoring Heritage series. It can be read as a stand-alone; I haven't read the other two novels and thoroughly enjoyed this one. I will likely read the other novels for a better introduction to the town of Heritage. I enjoyed the brief introductions to the other characters in the town of Heritage, especially Otis the hippo. That is a magical story I don't want to spoil for you!

Overall, much like the Grinch, my heart grew two sizes after reading this novel and I highly recommend it if you, like me, enjoy a happily ever after romance! I'm rating this a strong 4.5 Stars!
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Love abounds in Heritage, MI, in You’ve Been Gone, the latest addition to Tari Faris’s engaging “Restoring Heritage” series of romances.  There’s love between old friends, new friends, a treasured family business, and even love for the town itself, and it’s all wrapped in a package that manages to be sincere without being sickly-sweet.

What I really appreciated about this novel was that every one of the main characters had some kind of flaw or vulnerability. Leah isn’t great at ordered thinking and logical planning, Jon is standing in the shadows of his deceased father, Colby is coming from a professional scandal while Madison dealing with an intense personal situation. This was a refreshing change from the formula romances where everyone is model-perfect and equally plastic. In this novel the characters are believable and dimensional and it’s easy to become invested in their stories and outcomes.

I also liked that there were married couples who were friends of the four single characters. Nate (a pastor) and Olivia along with Hannah and Luke (and less so Leah’s sister Caroline and her husband) offer support and wisdom to the others, but the friendships mix and match and it’s never only married folks or only single folks when there are gatherings.

I haven’t read the previous two novels in this series, but  something notable about this book that I suspect runs through the whole series is that the town of Heritage is, itself, a character. The connections to the town run deep, and many of the characters are passionate about their love for their home. I’ve lived in towns like that, and I hope to live in one again. Sure, the neighbors know everything that’s going on, but there’s something really lovely about it as well.

Well paced and rich in detail, Since You’ve Been Gone is a satisfying treat of a novel.

Goes well with: hot tea and homemade pastries.
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I really enjoyed this final conclusion to the heritage series. 
Filled with themes of second chances, redemption, forgiveness and growth, I loved walking along this journey with these two couples.
Colby and Madison have get past prejudices and the feelings of not being enough but I enjoyed their story.
I loved Jon and Leah's story from having to convince her of his feelings, starting a business together, finding his place in his father's company and taking care of his teenage sister there's growth, there's struggles, there's fears but in the end it works out for the better. I'm sad to see them go and definitely looking forward to the next stories from Ms. Faris.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. All opinions expressed are solely mine
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I have thoroughly enjoyed each of the books in the Restoring Heritage series by Tari Faris and am quite sad that Since You’ve Been Gone brings it to an end. As final books go, this one was a winner with a double shot of romance as well as learning the story behind Otis, the mysterious wandering Hippo. Heritage Michigan is a small town I would love to visit and I have had fun meeting and getting to know some of its many residents.

Jonathan and Leah have known each other since high school and have been at odds most of that time. Leah believes that he destroyed her dreams and has toted around a load of unforgiveness for years. Jonathan has secretly loved Leah for all those years but somehow either sticks his foot in his mouth or gets his wires crossed when attempting to communicate with her. Now she wants to reopen the store her family once ran in the building she has joint ownership with Jonathan. Unfortunately he is being pressured to sell by his uncle and the board of the business he inherited from his father. Will he do the right thing?

Then there are Colby and Madison. Colby is a famous Christian recording artist hiding out in Heritage after a devastating betrayal by his partner. He becomes acquainted with Madison, who is in town to repair her family home before selling it. Not only is Madison considered the town bad girl but she has secrets that no one knows. Both Colby and Madison have damaged hearts. Will they be able to find healing with each other?

I loved Since You’ve Been Gone with its excellent cast of characters. Each of them is flawed in some way but readers can literally see the Holy Spirit at work as they walk out their problems. I cannot wait to see what this author has to offer next.
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Since You’ve Been Gone , by Tari Faris, is book three in the Restoring Heritage Series. This is a modern day Christian contemporary romance story. The story is very well written and background information is given so it could be enjoyed as a stand alone story, but it does reference characters and events from the previous book. This story brings Leah and Jon back together years after high school. Jon has returned home to work with his late father’s business and is given the duty to sell some property. The property will be money it no his business but will hurt others including Leah as she is planning to reopen her grandparent’s store.

This is a story of rebuilding a relationship that is filled with misunderstandings and misinterpretations. It’s also a story of being strong and doing what is right. I enjoyed Jon’s character. He is trying to raise his teenage sister after their parents’ deaths while fulfilling his sports contract and now taking on the company his father left him and his sister. Both Jon and Leah are dealing with grief from family member’s passing and trying to move forward with their lives.

I received a complimentary copy of this story from the publisher through NetGalley. This is my honest review.
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Since You’ve Been Gone, oh glory. This is a wonderful book. As an aspiring novelist, I read a LOT. The books that I love the most are the ones that pull me in and make me care.

The lovely town of Heritage is playing host to two former residents. Failed business owner Leah, and the man who tormented her in High School, retired pro basketball star, Jon. The two are forced into opening a new store together as Leah works to get her life back on track. Jon wants to prove he can take over the company his father left him, but can he earn the board’s trust?

As the two team up, what Leah realizes is Jon wasn’t poking fun at her all those years ago, he was trying to pay sincere compliments. And the feelings that prompted the attention have only grown. Now she must decide if she can trust a man with the power to destroy her heart.

Meanwhile, Maddie, who sees herself as the black sheep of the family has come back to town. She needs to restore and sell her father’s house. And she’s haunted by the memories of an abusive childhood while coming to terms with an unplanned pregnancy. Christian music star Colby has come to lay low in Heritage. He’s handling a scandal that wasn’t of his making, but tainted his career. Can he rebuild while falling in love with an unmarried mother?

OTIS REVEALED

As with the previous Heritage books (highly recommended), I cared about the characters so quickly that I had to go back and look at how Faris works as a writer. Her use of setting, dialogue and characterization are spot on, and I find myself wishing I were part of this group of friends. The town is as charming as ever, and brace yourselves, the mystery of Otis is finally revealed. Let’s be honest, now, even if the rest of the story wasn’t fabulous (it is), the secret behind the brass hippo – that’s worth picking the book up for, right there!

Since You've Been Gone
Grab a copy or read an excerpt…

Visit Tari’s website…

Check out book #2 in the series…
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There are a variety of reasons why people go home after having been gone for a while.  Leah moved back to make another attempt at a business venture.  Jon came back to help his sister and to take over the business his father left him.  Madison didn't come back by choice, but here she was.  Colby was invited to this town to regroup.  Four people come together in this well written story while trying to find a way forward.

Relationships, both past and present, are examined.  The author skillfully presents her complex characters points of view and perceptions. There is romance, but there are challenges to overcome.  Are they up to it?

Skillfully told, this story is filled with emotion, faith and believable characters that we want the best for.  Highly recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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This was such a good book. It was a fun contemporary with a couple storylines woven in. I loved the small town atmosphere and the messages of grace, forgiveness, and letting people grow up. It is often that we perceive things differently than was intended and this book shows that trait very well. 

The stories are organic and growth is something that happens through natural circumstances. Nothing felt forced and it was a heartwarming story with natural conflict and intelligent solutions to problems that people would face every day, 

I realize this is a part of a series, but I have not read the previous books and this is a new author to me. I don't feel like I missed any information and it felt very much like a stand alone. The romance is sweet. I think the secondary story appealed to me more than the main storyline to to the nature of one of the character's return to town. I would definitely read more in this series and need to go and find the first two books. I would definitely read any follow up. 

I received a copy through the publisher and NetGalley and this is my honest review.
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What a welcome return to small town Heritage, Michigan and the Restoring Heritage collection from Tari Faris. And then there's the much-anticipated return of the brass hippo, Otis! He's a fan-favorite for sure. 

Leah Williams, Caroline's twin, returns to her hometown with a self-dose of failure and determination to succeed. Her former rival and former pro basketball star, Jon Kennsington, is largely blocking the path to her newest dreams. Jon has dreams of his own and surprising similarities of self-doubt, abandonment, and betrayal. 

Also returning home for a brief stay to address inheritance issues is Madison Westmore, full of secrets and sturdy defense wall.  Colby Marc is running from recent betrayal, too. In these and recurring characters of the town, Faris loads readers with doss of truth and wisdom sprinkled throughout an entertaining and satisfying visit to Heritage. 

I received a complimentary copy of the book without obligation. This review is my opinion.
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