In After You Were Gone by Alexis Harrington, eight years ago, Mitchell Tucker was convicted of starting a fire that killed a man. Having served his time, Mitch returns to Gila Rock, Texas seeking forgiveness from the widow, Julianne Boyce. Julianne doesn’t want to forgive Mitch because there is simply too much history between them. But Mitch is persistent and begins helping her around her store in hopes of paying her back for the damage he caused in her life. In the meantime, a series of escalating acts of vandalism aimed at Julianne begin to occur. Gradually accepting that Mitch isn’t to blame, Julianne tries to ignore her heart, which is falling in love with her high school sweetheart once again. Who is committing the vandalism? Will Julianne and Mitch become lovers again despite their turbulent history?
There is a lot going on in this book but it makes for a very gripping and emotional romance. First there is the romantic history between Mitch and Julianne. There is the story of him seeking forgiveness for the crimes he committed. There is also an ongoing family feud between Mitch’s family and Julianne’s. Harrington does an excellent job of weaving the different stories together and giving readers a very satisfying conclusion.
A lot of the book focuses on how Mitch and Julianne’s lives didn’t turn out as they planned. Mitch wanted to play professional baseball and was even scouted by several major league teams. But when that dream didn’t come true, Mitch also gave up in his dream of marrying Julianne. However, Mitch never told Julianne that he wanted to marry her and she instead married another man. The whole book really makes you think how one small decision can affect the trajectory of so many lives. The suspense part of the book involving the vandalism left me guessing until the end. Like Julianne, I first suspected Mitch, because he after all had a reason. When it was revealed who was actually involved, I have to say I was pretty surprised that one of the characters had a hand in it.
After You Were Gone is a gripping, emotional romance that will stay with you long after the book is over. Featuring a heartbreaking story of love, loss, and redemption, this book is perfect for any reader who enjoys a gritty contemporary romance.
Title: After You Were Gone
Author: Alexis Harrington
Category: Contemporary Romance
Source: ARC via NetGalley