by Kristen Ashley
From the balcony of his house, Mike Haines can see the quiet, commonplace beauty of the Holliday farm. But what he remembers is the little sister of his high school girlfriend, Dusty, who grew up there. As a teen, Dusty had gone off the rails but when she was a kid, she was sweet, she was funny and she had a special bond with Mike. But after high school, she took off and Mike never saw her again.
Then tragedy strikes Dusty’s family, she comes back to town and Mike thinks she hasn’t changed back to the sweet, funny girl he knew but instead continued to be selfish and thoughtless, leaving her family alone to deal with their mourning. So he seeks her out and confronts her in an effort to understand what went wrong and to force her to sort herself out.
He finds out quickly he’s wrong about Dusty Holliday. Very wrong. And right after Mike discovers that, the bond they had years before snaps back into place in ways he would never suspect.
But Mike Haines had a bad marriage then he played games of the heart for a good woman. And lost. In order to protect himself and his kids, he’s cautious, he’s careful to read the signs and he’s not interested in finding a woman he has to fix.
Then he learns what happened to Dusty and he thinks she needs to be fixed. He swings, he misses and in this new game of hearts, for Dusty, Mike just got strike three.
I first fell in love with Mike Haines in “At Peace” when he was vying for the love of Violet who in the end falls for Cal.
I really loved this story although I must say the romance between Mike’s daughter Clarisse and Dusty’s nephew Fin was just beautiful and really took my heart and breath away. I found myself really wanting to know how they would end up and I really loved at the end of the book we were transported 7 years ahead – so we get to see how everyone is.
I actually have to admit I probably did not like Mike too much for the first half of this book which is strange considering I jumped from book 2 to 4 as I wanted him to find love. I am thinking perhaps he was really closed off after two broken hearts and he really is quite a dominating and stubborn man.
Another surprising character I really followed with such interest was Mike’s ex wife, wow I truly loved how her character developed over the course of the book and I was happy for their children in the end, she grew up with them in a sense.
Now I could not fault Mike and his depth of love for his children and can I say as a mother of a daughter the way Clarisse and Dusty’s relationship developed and bore such intimate parts of a girl’s journey to womanhood was a beautiful thing to read and follow. Mike’s relationship with his son and daughter changed over the course of the book and they in turn supported their dad too on so many levels.
I truly savoured this story, there are many sub stories in this which will not leave you disappointed. I do suggest at least reading book 2 “At Peace” to perhaps understand some of Mike’s hang ups and also know characters you meet – look start at Book 1 of “The Burg” series!
Games of the Heart (The Burg #4)
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