Life hasn't been kind to Amy Maxwell. Once the effervescent leader of the pack, her marriage should have been perfect. Instead, she escaped with nothing but the clothes on her back and her daughter, Pyper.
Tyler Brock is dazzling. The once shy teen has evolved into a powerhouse in Christian music, and when he returns to Woodland for a benefit concert, Amy can’t believe he is as faithful and tender as ever. He even manages to touch the heart of a doubtful Pyper.
But, Amy can’t escape her own self-doubt, and she questions the wisdom of her heart when it comes to the charismatic musician who is so different now, yet so much the same.
Can the key to their hearts unlock a lifetime of love?
The after-concert crowd ebbed and flowed around Tyler like a tide. He stood comfortably amidst it all, his arm looped around his mom’s waist, his father nearby as well. Back home again.
If only it were that easy.
Amy took a deep breath. It was time to move forward, and act like the friend she had always been. She made progress toward approaching Tyler, watching as he shook hands with members of his crew and received enthusiastic hugs of support. Then in came Rebecca. He saw her immediately and grinned while she made a dash for his ready embrace. She gave a happy shout as he lifted her up, and spun her in a full circle.
“You were great,” she enthused, her voice touched by the cadence of the south. “Honestly, what a show!”
“Inspired, wasn’t it, Becs? It feels so good to be home!”
Rebecca pecked both his cheeks and smiled into his eyes. Amy’s heart sank. His dynamic backup singer then greeted others around them and dissolved into the crowd of tour staffers. Amy winced, battling off turmoil, self-doubt, and inadequacy.
It was a battle she lost.
In that instant, her mature, straightforward intentions vaporized. Hiking up her purse and camera strap, Amy kept a tight hold on them both as she turned to leave. She took a few steps toward the exit. She’d beg off tomorrow’s dinner, and bid this entire, world-rocking episode farewell. In the morning, everything would be back to normal. In the morning, she could—
Amy froze at the sound of the smooth and deep voice that carried with it just a touch of the South. She closed her eyes, and she trembled. Bad.
“You were seriously gonna leave without sayin’ hello to me?”
She couldn’t pull in a proper breath. Her heart skittered wildly. Red-hot heat crawled up the skin of her neck and ignited her cheeks, melting and burning in one fell swoop.
Bravely she turned around, her lips pressed tight, though she fought through it all to offer a tentative smile. “Hey, Tyler.”
It was the best she could manage. His eyes were unspeakably gentle and tender. His attitude of warmth so typical of the Tyler she had known, once upon a life. Amy welcomed that fact, and at the same time, she was swept away by just looking at him.
“Hey, Amy,” he greeted softly. His smile bloomed when he took her hands. A beat later, he drew her in for a long, tight hug that left her aching. He felt so hard, and strong. So wonderful. A lump formed fast in her throat—a bit of mourning, she supposed, for all she missed.
“I, ah, didn’t want to interfere or anything.” As soon as the words crossed her lips, she realized how lame they sounded.
Tyler kissed her cheek, and Amy went a bit dizzy. A bit weak at the knees. “You couldn’t interfere if you wanted to.” He leaned back and drew a fingertip against her chin; he looked deep look into her eyes. “I’ve missed you.”
The Woodlands series reaches a stunning conclusion in the fourth volume, Hearts Key. This novel reunites Amy and Tyler (secondary characters from book two, Hearts Surrender) and brings their story to a heart stopping close. Opening with a terrifying bang, Ms. Evans keeps up the pace, tension and emotion throughout its pages. I was so gripped, I pulled an all-nighter to finish reading. Not to be missed, this one will tug at your heart strings the whole way through.