In Country Roads by Nancy Herkness, Julia, a famous artist, has fled the home she shares with her uncle to finally strike out on her own. Between miscommunication, over protectiveness and their different ideas regarding Julia's career, it's time for her to be independent. Julia is heading to Sanctuary, WV in a beater truck she bought with her paintings in tow. When she gets a flat and is rescued by Paul, her life as she knows it is about to change.
Paul tries to, but just can't drive by the woman on the side of the road. Little does he know when he does how much she will change his life too.
Julia is just looking to get an outside opinion on her paintings - which are so different from all her other work - and hopefully sell them. She's half terrified and half excited. Up until now she's been under the protective umbrella of her uncle, but circumstances have forced Julia to take a stand and start managing her own career. Paul takes Julia where she was going - to the gallery in Sanctuary - and despite the owner's enthusiasm over Julia's new paintings, Julia is still filled with doubt. Deciding to stay in Sanctuary a little longer, Julia slowly builds her confidence. No one in Sanctuary knows about the medical condition she had that contributed to her family's over protectiveness, and Julia is finally free to do what she wants, what makes her happy without anyone trying to wrap her up in cotton and keep her safe. She paints what she wants to paint and gets to know Paul a lot better. Soon they are more together than not, and the relationship is much more than client/lawyer or even friends. Even knowing she will be leaving, Julia allows herself to lose herself in Paul...and before she knows it she's lost her heart.
Julia truly finds her muse in Sanctuary...between both Paul and Darkside, her whisper horse she discovers; both help her feel whole. Julia has her secret though, and Paul has some of his own. Julia wants to move on though and comes clean with Paul. Paul is less willing to let his go though. When Julia helps him see who he really is and wants to be, he pushes away...has he pushed Julia too far? Will they both be brave enough to discover that secrets are most powerful when hidden away? Will they find the freedom to be with each other, finding a way to make a relationship work in different worlds? Paul might need to revisit who he really is and what makes him happy if he is going to have any chance with Julia.
Country Roads is a great romantic read! Nancy delves into not only the relationship between lovers, but the family relationships hidden in the background too. With this, Nancy gives us some great characters in Country Roads...realistic people you can easily picture walking down your street. The relationship between Paul and Julia, as quick as it evolves, is dynamic...pulling them and the reader in all directions! Julia is a lot stronger than the people she's previously surrounded herself with give her credit for. She's strong, smart, and quite capable of being independent! She's willing to take chances and put herself out there...despite her fear of rejection. I really loved watching Julia become more and more confident, less worried about what others' think, but at the same time still thoughtful of others. Paul has always been someone everyone goes to and looks up to...he never wants to let anyone down and puts others' needs before his own, even if it's making him unhappy. Inside of serious Paul, I can see the carefree, fun loving guy that Julia can too. Hopefully he can find a way to do what he wants to do, what makes him happy.
I haven't read the first book in this series, but Country Roads can definitely stand alone! Fast paced and never bored, I loved Nancy's writing! Her descriptives of Darkside in particular were so vivid I could picture him easily in my mind, and feel his breath as he reached for a carrot! Country Roads was a real page turner, a really sweet romance between two people not looking for love...who might find it anyway, and it will be up to them what they do with it.
I highly recommend this romance!
4/5 stars :)