Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Piper feels like an outsider on the tiny island she calls home, never fitting into the small community, mostly because of her ex. This doesn’t mean she isn’t happy with her life, teaching elementary school and reading romance novels for her podcast. That is until she gets new next door neighbors in the ways of a Duke and Duchess, but they are the least of her troubles. It’s Harrison, the stoic bodyguard who seems to give her heated glances behind his sunglasses. There’s something there that Piper is afraid to explore based on her past relationships, but if Harrison is there to catch her, it might be worth the leap.
I can’t tell you how much I loved this. It was sweet, funny and easy to read. I would love to be Piper’s best friend honestly and Harrison… oof. Yes, please. The semi-slow burn relationship between them was amazing to watch and the chemistry was through the roof. I appreciated it not being dual POV though that is one of the more popular formats, I’ve read a few books without it now and I’m not missing it much. I wanted there to be a little more mystery when it comes to Harrison, his subtle glances and reactions though they weren’t obvious to Piper at times, made me squeak in excitement.
It wasn’t just the romance that got me, though that was part of the reason why I did enjoy this book so much, it was the spotlight on cptsd and Piper’s past and relationships.
There is still a stigma about mental health, much like a stigma for reading romance, which the book does address and I was nodding and smiling the entire way through. But as Karina Halle mentioned in her author’s note at the end, there aren’t many romance novel heroines like Piper who has issues that she has to overcome. The stigma doesn’t ease much in romance and those who have mental health issues usually find themselves underrepresented. Perpetuating the statements that sometimes are drilled into us through popular “adages”, “To love others, you must love yourself first.” It’s thrown around so much and at times feels like a knife to the gut.
People with depression, anxiety, ocd, ptsd. We don’t really love ourselves. Does that automatically mean we don’t crave love or wish for love? Nope. We want to be accepted and adored like the women we read about. So, when Karina Halle wrote Piper, showing that she can find a healthy and loving relationship with her cptsd, it really hit home.
Sometimes it’s hard to love ourselves, but that doesn’t stop others from doing it. I really hope to read more from Karina and I wish I could thank her and let her know how much it meant to read this especially at this particular time in my life. I think we should have more romance novel heroines with mental health issues. Everyone is deserving of love.