Disclosure: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.
Published on: 31 May 2021
Type: HEA, series
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Drama
Author: Claire Wilder
Read: 25 May 2021
Shelved: 27 May 2021
Rating: 4 / 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I won’t be burned again.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy moving back home to Jewel Lakes County.
I knew, walking the streets of Barkley Falls, that I’d have to confront the most painful memories of my past.
I just didn’t expect I’d have to run into one of them in the flesh.
When we were teenagers, Hank promised he’d never let me go. When he left, he promised he’d come back.
Hank broke all his promises. And broke my heart into smithereens.
I don’t care if he’s a different man now. I don’t care if my heart feels like it’s going to shatter all over again seeing him here.
I’m not going to let him see his effect on me.
I’m not getting burned twice.
I messed up.
I messed up a lifetime ago when I left the only woman I’ve ever loved to pursue a dream of being a firefighter in NYC.
I messed up when I went into that burning building with my best friend and came out alone.
Moving back home to Jewel Lakes was supposed to be a do-over. I was supposed to be able to live quietly, without messing anything else up.
But how am I supposed to do that when Casey’s back here too?
I never stopped loving Casey Mitchell. But she’s got a life of her own now. A business to run. A sweet little kid.
A hate-on for me.
How could she ever forgive me for what I did? How can I forgive myself, when everything I touch turns to ash?
All Jewel Lakes books feature high steam, a guaranteed HEA (Happily Ever After), and can be read as standalones. However, for the best reading experience, reading in order is recommended.
Start the Jewel Lake Series Today!
Disclosure: Do readers need to read the previous books to this series? Although this book mentioned the other characters in the previous book, it is not a requirement, and readers can start any book in the series. BUT I would highly recommend readers catch up with the previous books to understand better and connect the people accordingly and avoid spoilers for the other characters whose stories were already discussed.
Twice Burned is your slow-burn with a historical past between flawed characters. It is written from the first-person’s POVs – dual, Hank’s, and Casey’s. The writing is clear and relatable, especially with Casey’s side, a struggling divorcee and a mother to a young boy. Casey and Hank are childhood sweethearts who understood each other from the start or so they thought. They didn’t start broken; instead, they were each other’s “saviors” until they grew up and started to over-think too many things. It all imploded at the end, mainly due to miscommunication and pride. They were sacrificing for the other’s future, ambitions, and endeavors with their stubbornness. They kept thinking that each one is not good enough to stand beside the other. (That is so wrong!) They would question their self-worth to the other that implodes at the end.
Casey is a martyr or a saint for everything she went through – the ups and downs of being with someone to pushed into places that she didn’t realize was messing up with her identity until it was too late. She may have had a rocky start regarding a fated relationship, anguishing experiences in the middle as a single mother. Still, her ending was a strong and stellar one that combined all the strength of a mother, and a partner should have. Her pride might cause her many problems, but it also shows readers her inner strength and convictions to fight what mattered most in the end.
I am so frustrated with Hank. I love him but hate what he did and was putting Casey through. I was rooting for him even before the author announced this book. I had an image of him that is very similar to the book. But this version of Hank (in the book) was so broken that it went beyond my realm of imagination. He had confidence issues stemming from his family that translated to his relationship with Casey. Each time when I think Hank was starting to “come out of the dark” and realize that he can have his second chance to live, he retreats and goes into an even darker place (!) and brings his self-worth down ten levels than when he started. It was a big downer! I constantly wanted to “shake him” and tell him that he’s overreacting. Of course, the author made sure that Hank gets his act together but not until he does his version of penance. His self-defeatist attitude drove me off the wall until something happened near the end that snapped him back to reality and made him decide what is important after all these years.
“I’d lost sight of the women who’d needed me. I’d felt like I was holding her back, but she’d never asked me to leave. She’d never wanted to leave me until I pushed her away.”— Twice Burned, Claire Wilder
**I wonder if therapy would have worked for him since the scars within him need something else than just walking through the fixing inside.
In summary, Twice Burned is one of the angst(est) books I’ve read with a side of frustration to Hank. I love the female protagonist and what she had to go through in making her stronger for Hank and her son. I recommend this for readers who love their second chances (big huge second chance), angst, and broken main characters who “pull it together” in the end.
“I knew there was an ember in my heart I’d tucked away just because it felt like holding onto something good and pure and precious. I could have let it smolder there for the rest of my life, but in that moment, I wanted the flame. It was irrational and foolish and idiotic, but I wanted it to roar.”— Twice Burned, Claire Wilder
About the Author
Hey! I’m Claire.
And there are two things you should know about me right off the bat:
(Would it be weird to get that on a t-shirt?)
Okay, I love a lot of other stuff (my husband, my kids, my creaky old house, man-candy, chocolate, wine….I could go on).
But those two are HUGE–they’re the reason I write the books I write!
I am a wee bit obsessed with lakes. I grew up on a lake in Ontario, Canada, and practically lived in or on the water all year round.
Swimming and dock-diving in the summer.
Ice skating ’til it hurt in the winter (literally. Chill blains are the WORST!).
I moved away from the lake when was ten and spent the rest of my childhood growing up in a major city.
But the lake is in my blood. There’s just something about being by the quiet stillness of a contained body of water that’s just…magic.
Just like the characters in my books, I’m a city girl now, yearning for a life closer to nature. For now, I’ll keep saving lake pictures and writing about them like I’m still there.
More Importantly, Love.
The other thing about me is I love…LOVE. All parts of it: the thrill, the warm-hearted comfort of it, the closeness, the connection. I believe in love wholeheartedly!
BUT. When it comes to romantic love, I’m a little picky. The kind of love I love (is this getting confusing yet?) is sweet AND sexy, cozy AND hot.
But above all, I believe true love must be formed on a basis of mutual respect. That’s why I write books about REAL women and the sexy AF men who love them. Jewel Lakes men are never manipulative. They never make you feel bad about yourself. They’re always sexy and they ALWAYS treat you right.
I love movies in extremes: I love it when they scare the pants off me (The Woman in Black); make me cry my face off (Steel Magnolias); OR make me laugh ’til my sides hurt (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates).
My favorite-ever food that I can’t cook is eggplant parmesan (though many dishes are close seconds–and I share lots of amazing recipes from foodies in my books in my newsletter). I also love a big ‘ol Costco hot dog (lol).
I’m married to an amazing guy (Mr. Wilder) who is a movie lover (seriously ask him anything) and have three kids who drive me nuts but I wouldn’t trade them for all the sun and stars.
When I’m not writing steamy lakeside romance novels (and the occasional sweet & sexy short story), I’m either reading, riding my e-bike (don’t knock it ’til you try it!) taking long walks by the ocean (which I consider a giant lake) or in the trees.
Thanks again for stopping by–be sure to check out my books page for all the latest info on my existing and upcoming work.