by T.J. Kline
Series: Healing Harts #2
Genres: Contemporary Romance
T. J. Kline's Healing Harts series continues as a soldier suffering from PTSD and a therapy dog trainer find that some scars can only be healed by love...Julia Hart knows how much good she does training therapy dogs—it's what helped her overcome her own trials after a relationship turned unexpectedly violent. But moving beyond her mistakes meant trusting only her family with her heart. Dylan, a former soldier, has run out of hope for recovery. Plagued by nightmares and flashbacks, he doubts anything will help him overcome his PTSD. When his brother convinces him to try one last time, he agrees to get a therapy dog. Dylan didn't expect to find Julia or a chance for a "normal" future again. But when Julia's attacker is released from prison, Dylan and Julia will have to face the past together.
Taking Heart by T.J. Kline is the second novel in her Healing Harts series and I chose to dive in after reading the synopsis. “a soldier suffering from PTSD and a therapy dog trainer find that some scars can only be healed by love…” (From synopsis) Kline wove suspense, lovable character and swoon-worthy moments into this contemporary romance.
Taking Heart works wonderfully as a standalone and it appears each book focuses on a Hart sibling. Julia Hart trains therapy dogs a career that is helping her overcome her own issues. Dylan is a former solider, who suffers from PTSD, and has been living with his younger brother since his discharge. Between recovering from his scars, overcoming a pain medication addiction, and dealing with his flashbacks, Dylan is in a bad place. For his brother’s sake, he agrees to give dog therapy a chance, and what he finds may give him the life he thought he had lost.
Dylan saw the hope in Gage’s eyes. He really thought a dog was going to make a difference? Whatever. It wasn’t worth fighting over. If Gage wanted to take a few weeks off work and stay at some training facility, fine. He’d see soon enough that this wouldn’t help.
While at times this was a little insta-lovey, Kline had me connecting to both Julia and Dylan. You could feel the sparks between them, and I loved the way they opened up and shared about their past. I felt the author did a fine job of highlighting the effects of PTSD and the helplessness iof the victim and those around them. I am glad the author drew attention to the use of animals for therapy and the impact they have on the patient. Kline weaves humor, banter and delicious heat into their story and I quickly became caught up in wanting them to get their happily-ever-after.
Julia gasped as Dylan’s lips touched hers. She’d been thinking about this all night, even dreamed about it, but never thought she’d wake to find his hands stroking the edge of her jaw. His thumb traced the hollow of her cheek and she leaned into him, wanting more but afraid to ask for it. She felt Dylan tense as her hand lifted to his face, the rasp of his unshaved cheek sending fire through her veins and coiling in her chest. Tango moved at her feet, and she gave him a hand command to stay. There was no way she was allowing the dog to interrupt this again.
Taking Heart also delivers some suspense as Julia’s past brings danger making Taking Heart a romantic suspense. It accomplished a few things such as driving the two together and forcing both of them to face their issues head on. All of which pulled at my heartstrings. The last one-third of the book had me flipping the pages at a maddening rate as the outside world melted away.
The dogs in the story had a strong presence and added tender moments and humor from hogging the bed to alerting them to danger. Kline did such a great job of sharing how these dogs aid PTSD victims, assist in finding missing persons and why everyone should own a furry friend. I love that they made me laugh. Kline obviously has pets because she nailed the humor of daily life with animals.
We meet other Hart siblings in Taking Heart, and I love the family interaction. After meeting the couple from Heart’s Desire, I know I will need to go back and read their story, just as I know I will pick up Close to Heart, next book in the Healing Harts series.
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