The Way Forward (Heart of Colton) – ARC Review

53179287._SY475_The Way Forward
by Eliana West
Release Date:  August 25, 2020
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Book #1 in the Heart of Colton series
Number of pages:  332
Source:  ARC from publisher
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: PG-13
Read 8/15/20 to 8/16/20


Dax Ellis returns to Colton, Mississippi, a changed man. He traveled the world, earned a fortune, and made a lifetime of memories, but now he longs to put down roots. Time hasn’t been kind to his hometown, and Dax wants to help—if only he can convince everyone he’s not the same petulant boy he used to be. Especially the one woman who has every reason not to trust him.

Librarian Callie Colton cherished summers with her grandparents, in the town her ancestors helped build, in spite of the boy who called her names. Now that Colton is her home, life is quiet until Dax returns…and, along with him, threatening letters on her doorstep. He may still have the power to hurt her, but she’s not the same scared little girl she used to be.

But as the danger escalates, Dax will have to face his past to find a way forward for the relationship they were cheated of once before.

Settle in folks, because I have a lot to unpack on this one. The short and sweet review would say this is a wonderful story that needs some editing help, but I’ll dive in deeper.

I always try to start with the good. And honestly, there is a lot that is good with this story. I enjoyed the characters, the good and bad. They are fleshed out pretty well and had me rooting for them, or hating them if that’s what the character called for. I loved the slow unfolding of the relationship between Dax and Callie. There was a bit of two steps forward and one step back, but that is what was expected with their past. Parts of this story made me feel downright icky, and they were supposed to. Racism isn’t unicorns and rainbows, after all. The author does a phenomenal job of portraying the racism in this small southern town. The people who perpetrate the racism, and those that have turned a blind eye to the hatred while not participating. Those who have educated themselves and regret the things they’ve done, and those who still think they are superior to others. It’s not a good look on anyone, and it casts a pall on the town. Seriously, I often had knots in my stomach. That I was so emotionally effected tells me the author has writing chops. (I guess I should actually add a trigger warning here. It gets intense and there are awful things said and done in this story.)

Although I love the storyline, it also bothered me. Callie and Dax aren’t just enemies, Dax was exceptionally cruel to Callie growing up. There is still a part of me that just doesn’t believe she could ever come to an acceptance to some of the things Dax did, no matter how much he’s changed. Since the chemistry between the two of them is great, it’s easier to forget once in a while that he was a terrible bully as a child.

Here’s my main issue with this story, which I don’t think will come as a surprise to those who regularly read my reviews, the timeline. Oh this poor timeline. While nothing about the timeline will make it so the reader doesn’t understand what is happening, it will have you scratching your head. There’s one point that Dax asks Callie for coffee, but that’s somehow never followed through with. More than once a character references “I haven’t seen her since” or “he hasn’t been here since”, but the sentence is not true and they characters HAD seen each other or been to the place. The romance in this story is behind closed doors for the most part and I swear, the characters get intimate (behind closed doors means I don’t know to what extent) and later it’s like it never happened.

From what I can see, this is this author’s first published work. Or at least, the first work listed on her Goodreads page at this point. She has so much potential. Ya’ll know how much I hate inconsistencies in a storyline, yet I still want to read the next book in this series. Her characters really drew me in. In my opinion, her editorial staff failed her. The ARC for this book was sent out 11 days before publication, so I can only imagine it’s been gone over a time or two. It actually makes me angry that this author seems to have been mishandled which can, in effect, end up holding her writing back in the long run.

What I’m trying to say is, although problematic, I’m still going to recommend this book. I think the author has raw talent and will come into her own very quickly. I want her to succeed, I think she deserves to succeed. I think she has a lot of great stories to tell and I want her to be able to share them with the public. And I also want her editor and/or publisher to pay a bit more attention instead of leaving a talented author hanging.

3 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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1 Response to The Way Forward (Heart of Colton) – ARC Review

  1. Pingback: The Way Home (Heart of Colton) – ARC review | All In Good Time

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