Like Never Before – Melissa Tagg – Bethany House – Published 5 April 2016
Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley’s haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered. But her new life as a newspaper editor is shaken when the small-town paper is in danger of closing. Her one hope: A lead on an intriguing story that just might impress the new publisher…if only she new who he was.
After his biggest campaign success yet, widowed speechwriter Logan Walker now has the chance of a lifetime–a spot on a presidential campaign. But his plans are interrupted when he finds out he’s inherited his hometown newspaper. He travels home intent on selling the paper and spending some much-needed time with his young daughter before making the leap into national politics.
But instead of a quick sale and peaceful break from his hectic career, Logan finds himself helping Amelia chase her story. She’s scrappy, but wounded. He’s dependable, but lost. They may butt heads more than expected, but a series of leads on Maple Valley’s quirky unsolved mystery is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.
Like Never Before just shines. Every word, every character has been created with care and love and it seeps through each and every page. I loved this book. I laughed, I cried and I wanted to stay curled up in its pages forever. It is lovely to sink back into the cozy setting of Maple Valley, catch up with old friends and enjoy a new meeting of hearts.
While the books in the Walker Family series could possibly be read independently it’s probably best to read them in series order to stay abreast of who is who and how they fit into Maple Valley and the Walker family. I have read both the first book and the prequel novella and it still took me a few chapters to reacquaint myself with the characters and current setting of events. For those who may have read book one a while ago and find things a little foggy here are a few hints. We met both Logan and Amelia in the first book of the series. Logan is the eldest Walker sibling – the second eldest, Kate, was the heroine of book one, and she is followed by Beckett Walker and then Raegan.
Logan is a political speech writer, has a three-year-old daughter, Charlie, and his wife died in a car crash a few years ago. Logan and Amelia have briefly met once before but Amelia feels like she knows Logan much better after hearing many stories from her boss at the Maple Valley newspaper, Logan’s sister Raegan and from reading Logan’s speeches. She maybe has a bit of a crush on him and certainly on the way he writes. But getting to know Logan in person, seeing behind that put-together façade and falling in love with the real guy is something else altogether.
Logan Walker is charming. He wears ties, loves his little daughter, has a way with words, loves his family and is desperately trying to juggle everything in his life. I can totally understand why in her acknowledgments Melissa Tagg calls him the fictional love of her life. But as much as I fell for Logan I equally enjoyed getting to know Amelia Bentley. My heart ached for her, her past, her loneliness and the heartache she has endured. Yet she is upbeat, full of fun and kindness. It takes a while in the book to learn the full story of Amelia’s past. We first met her in the previous book and we know she is working for the local newspaper and that she came to Maple Valley a few years ago and immersed herself in the town after leaving her past behind, but her story really unfolds in this book and it is a delight to share in it.
I love Logan and Amelia’s relationship. They make great friends, slowly trusting each other with their pasts and fears. I loved the gentle, teasing banter they share, the sweet moments, and the ladened tension that develops between them (good, kiss-building tension). But their journey is not without its bumps, and the mix of testing times and good times are perfectly balanced. I really loved this book, love the vibrant characters and the charming setting and the promise of plenty of good love stories and family developments to come. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, but for now I am content to bask in the splendour of this story.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Family. Romance. Faith. Newspapers. Small-towns. Children. Grief.
Published: 5 April 2016 by Bethany House.
Format: Paperback, ebook. 352 pages.