KK Hendin�s real life ambition is to become a pink fluffy unicorn who dances with rainbows. But the schooling for that is all sorts of complicated, so until that gets sorted out, she�ll just write. Preferably things with angst and love. And things that require chocolate. She�s the author of the NA contemporaries HEART BREATHS and ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG. COME BACK TO TEXAS is the first book in her new series, TWELVE BEATS IN A BAR. KK spends way too much time on Twitter (where she can be found as @kkhendin), and rambles on occasion over at www.kkhendinwrites.blogspot.com.
Come Back To Texasby K.K. Hendin
We thought so, too.
Too bad life had other plans.
It�s been three years since Hayley and Nate broke each other�s hearts. Three years, and a lot has changed. Hayley�s a freshman in
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Everyone thought we�d be the ones who made it through high school. The ones who�d get married and stay married forever. The example of how young love can work.
We thought so, too.
Too bad life had other plans.
It�s been three years since Hayley and Nate broke each other�s hearts. Three years, and a lot has changed. Hayley�s a freshman in Bushwick University, and the only things keeping her sane are stress baking, and her a cappella group, Twelve Beats in a Bar.
Nate�s a Marine, stationed in Afghanistan. The only thing that�s keeping him sane is the last picture he has of him and Hayley, and the hope that maybe when the hell of deployment is over, he can find her again and apologize.
One explosion will change everything.
When a bomb kills all of Nate�s unit, leaving him missing a leg and eyesight in one eye, he�s sent back home to Texas. Texas, where he loved Hayley more than he could possibly imagine ever loving anyone else.
With seemingly endless amounts of free time and needing something to distract himself, Nate starts making YouTube videos, imploring Hayley to come back to him, and come back to Texas.
Hayley�s life is wrapped around the Beats, making sure she doesn�t flunk out of biology class, and babysitting Ohio�s smallest monster, Brandon. She doesn't want to admit it, but she misses Nate more than anything.
It�s too bad she doesn�t know just how much he misses her, too�
- K.K. Hendin
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» Just OK. Potential to be great. This was an okay book. Readable. It’s such a shame, though, because with another round of edits, this could have been a good book. Tear-your-heart out good. I’ll break it down: WHAT I LIKED: The writing was good—no beautiful sentences I was highlighting to reread later, but unobtrusive prose. There weren’t a million typos and errors, which I always appreciate when it comes to self-published books. And that cover? Well, it’s what caught my eye in the first place. But I think where this novel really shines is in the story. The premise is great—what made me buy the book—and the setup worked for me. I liked the dual POV. I liked the fact that within both Hayley and Nate’s POVs we get the current-day storyline as well as flashbacks to the start and downfall of their relationship. I was happy with the plot and the ending, which was absolutely perfect. With just those things, it’s a passable story. But it could have been truly great. And so, my gripes: WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE »» VERY UNCLEAR: This story suffers from a lack of clarity, and throughout the book that made following along difficult. This is what made me view this book as more of an early draft than a polished, finished product. I can see how the author wouldn’t need background information in certain scenes—she has the entire story world in her head, after all. But too often I found myself confused by a lack of information, or information that came too late. And of course all of that makes zero sense to you, so here are some examples: In the beginning of the story, we’re introduced to Hayley’s friends (more on that below), and in passing they mention a Regina. Because she’s mentioned in a scene when we’re hearing about Hayley’s friends’ roommates, the assumption is that Regina is a college student. Six chapters later, we learn she’s the owner of a bakery. This sort of thing—a character being mentioned without any identifying details—happens throughout the book, and it makes following the storyline confusing. In another chapter, Hayley’s mom tells her that Sugar Ray’s been asking about her. We’ve never met Sugar Ray before, and this mention in the dialog is the only one in the book. As a reader, I was left wondering: Who is Sugar Ray? Why is she important to the story? Similarly, after more than 150 pages, her roommate’s boyfriend is suddenly mentioned for no reason. At least, I assume it was her boyfriend. All we know is that a man named Dennis went home early. Is this nitpicky? Yes, but the lack of background information drew me out of the story enough that it made it harder for me to enjoy the book. This also happens in the context of setting. In chapter 28, Nate is musing about his past with Hayley in their small town of Leyland, Texas. One paragraph ends with Nate’s self-reflection. The next picks up with him hitting a punching bag. It’s an abrupt change, and the lack of transition is confusing: Where is he? Why’s there a punching bag there? Since when does he have a punching bag to punch? Random mentions also happen about events. Toward the end of the book, Regina references some article that has apparently increased the number of people at her bakery. It’s mentioned in passing (“Since that article…”) but it’s the first we as readers hear about it. Sure, we can guess what the article is about, but because our narrator, Hayley, acts as if this is common knowledge, we as readers feel left out. »» READER IS LEFT OUT: The instances above aren’t the only times the reader feels left out. There’s a certain quality to Hendin’s writing that, at times, leaves the reader feeling like a third wheel. That’s because too often characters will react to an object, a setting, etc. without it ever being described to us. This happens early on, in a flashback to one of Hayley and Nate’s first dates. Nate brings her somewhere that she’s never been before. We’re in Nate’s POV, but instead of him parking and describing the location for their date, the narration jumps into dialog—a conversation about the strange place Nate’s brought Hayley. It’s about a page’s worth of Nate and Hayley talking about the place, but vaguely: “What the hell is this?” … “This doesn’t look all that safe.” And on and on. But the entire time I was reading, I wanted to shout, “Where the hell are you?! Show me around!” That’s the problem, really. The author at times forgets to let the reader in on what both characters see. We later learn what the place is, and the conversation is then put into context and makes more sense, but before then it was meaningless. Another example of this is when Hayley gives her roommate her Christmas present. Both Characters react to it before we’re clued in as readers as to what it is. These may sound like little annoyances, but added up, they become frustrations that pull the reader out of the story and also make readers feel like they’re not in Hayley’s or Nate’s head, but looking on like a shadow. »» NATE’S RECOVERY: One of my major gripes with this story was that it didn’t dig deep enough with Nate’s recovery. I thought it took far too long for him to seriously consider the repercussions of his injuries. What does it meant that his leg is gone? That he’s blind one eye? He does thing about this, but I think it’s a bit too late. And on top of that, his injuries didn’t feel as serious as they should have. In one scene, after Nate has his first visit with his physical therapist, he offhandedly mentions “I … head back to my room.” That’s all well and good but considering he lost a leg, I was wondering exactly how he was getting around? Did he walk using his prosthetic? How did that feel? Does it hurt? Is it uncomfortable? Is it hard to walk without stumbling? The story skipped over the tough aspects of Nate’s recovery, which I think would have added to his character’s growth. I wanted to see the first time he looked at his stump—what went through his mind? Was he disgusted? Sad? What about the first time he wore his prosthetic leg? How did it feel, both mentally and physically? The book skips this, so it feels almost as if he had no trouble transitioning from laying on a hospital bed post-coma to walking with a prosthetic. »» BELIEVABILITY: I’m willing to believe a lot. That Nate survived while the rest of his unit dies. That he becomes a YouTube celebrity because of his videos to Hayley. But there were some things that were too far fetched: --His physical therapist takes him out of the hospital for a burger one day. I’ll believe that she’s able to sneak him out despite the fact that he’s so injured he’s not yet been released from the hospital. What I won’t believe is that she lets him drive to the restaurant. And I don’t believe that for so many reasons: 1. Nate just lost a leg. We’re not told until many chapters later that it was his left leg (would have been useful to know this in the scene when he drives…) but even then I don’t believe a man who has not been discharged from the hospital because he just lost his leg is well enough to drive. And not only does he do it, but his physical therapist suggests it. There are so many things wrong with this: If he’s too injured to be released, he’s too injured to be operating heavy machinery such as a car. As a health care provider, the physical therapist could get fired or sued if he got in an accident and hurt or killed himself or others. 2. Nate’s almost blind. He’s blind in one eye. The other, he tells us, is barely functional. What about this indicates he’d be safe on the road? Aside from the lack of peripheral vision he’d need time to get used to, he has trouble seeing out of his good eye. I can’t imagine he’d get on the road like this. And I really can’t imagine his health care provider would ask him if he wanted to drive. Sorry, not buying it. --When Nate and Hayley are reunited (I know, spoiler, but you knew that going in, didn’t you?), she jumps on him, wraps her legs around his waist, and hugs her. I don’t believe that, loving him as much as she does and (having watched his videos) knowing he lost a leg, she would jump on him like that. And what I really don’t believe is that Nate, still new enough to his prosthetic leg that his stump’s swelling hasn’t gone down yet, can actually hold her. He doesn’t teeter or totter or trip or anything. And, yeah, don’t buy it. »» CHARACTERS: Here’s the thing: I actually liked these characters. I was nervous going into this that the cause of their breakup was that Nate cheated on Hayley, which I wouldn’t have forgiven. But Nate’s a truly great guy and I loved his devotion to her. Hayley’s also a great heroine, and I enjoyed reading from both of their POVs. But it all felt too surface level. We hear from Hayley that Nate had a dark childhood he never talked about, but it’s glazed over and seems to have been added for drama. We never get from Nate’s POV anything about his childhood or why it was so horrible beyond his mother leaving him behind at his grandmother’s house. Halfway through the book Nate decides he doesn’t deserve Hayley, but that comes out of the blue, and it’s never clear why he suddenly believes this. I wanted to know about Nate’s past, but we learn nothing, so it makes understanding Nate really difficult. I felt Hayley was a more fully realized character, but I still didn’t feel like I knew her well enough. I loved her baking hobby and her family, though all of her brothers and sisters seemed to glaze together and really were only mentioned in passing. What this book really suffers from is too many characters. Oh man are there a lot of characters. Hendin could have cut half of them and strengthened the story. We have Hayley’s 12 A capella friends, all of whom are introduced in a single scene that made my head spin. We know a couple of them more than others, but too often all of the girls were in a scene together, each saying one piece of dialog so I felt like I was riding a merry-go-round. I wish Hendin had focused on a few of them so we got to know those few much better. Ariel, Tara, Letty, Chelsea—I can’t keep them straight. Even Hayley’s close friends (Megan, Olivia, and Jules) could have been condensed into one or two characters since they all serve the same function in the story. Had that been the case, I imagine I might have liked that condensed character as much as Erin. Because Erin was well done. She felt like a real character to me, and I liked the role she played in Nate’s recovery. BOTTOM LINE: On a whole, this is a decent story with the potential to be really great. Don’t read this looking for a deep story or something with great character development. Read it because it’s an adorable idea and, to be honest, the sweet ending makes up for it.
Coming Back To Texas kept me on the edge of my seat, turning pages long after I should have been asleep. I felt as if I help my breath when Nate's unit came under fire until we find out that he is alive. My heart broke for Haley - she is trying so hard to make something of her life away from her small home town, but she can't make her heart stop loving and missing Nate. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a sweet romance - it is a wonderfully warm, story of reconnection.
Something about Come Back to Texas just called my name. Maybe it's the Southern setting--though I've always felt like Texas is rather a different kind of Southern than my good ole' Mississippi (Maybe I'm wrong! Heck, all I've seen of Texas is the Dallas/Fort Worth airport.)--or maybe it's the promise of a happy ending that I can't resist, but it was simply one of those books that got me excited. Come Back to Texas is not the speediest of books, when it comes to plot--though it did feel shorter than its near 300 pages. For both Nate and Hayley, life is just about getting through the day. It's much more character-driven and introspective, which is fine for some of us and not as fine for others--just depending on who you are. For me, that's enjoyable. Not only do we see Hayley struggle with leaving her small town for a university many times its size, but Nate's whole days are filled with rehab and finding ways to pass time. This felt largely organic and lets you get to know the characters. What I wish I saw was a bit more development of the Beats--not the characters themselves, who I got a good hold of--but what they did. It felt like Hayley's life was spent flitting back and forth between things and never spent enough time in one thing. Focusing on the Beats, who are supposed to be the kind of center of the series, would've felt better. There were also a couple of things that weren't quite correct, such as a mention of the "Mason-Dixie" line, instead of the Mason-Dixon line, that were such small things but so glaring to me. Not much of a detraction, but still something that pulled me out of the reading experience. Even so, I quite enjoyed Come Back to Texas, as I fully expected to. It's filled with sweet moments between Nate and Hayley, and the ending is just so rewarding. I'll definitely be revisiting Nate and Hayley in A Different Kind of Fine and the other Beats in the rest of the series. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I had a feeling this book was going to leave me in tears, and it did. However I had no idea how connected I'd feel to Hayley and Nate and how connected they were to one another. The two of them truly fit the definition of soul mates. I read this book fairly quickly. I loved the flashbacks. It really allowed me to see the bond Hayley and Nate had and how their love story unfolded. I also loved that chapters were told in alternating points of view. My heart hurt for both of them; for the words they left unsaid and those said as well. It was painful to seem them regretting and missing each other the way they did. One of the most painful and poignant scenes was a dream sequence; it left me in tears. I thought Nate's method of processing his feelings for Hayley to be brilliant. I also found the way he handled himself to be beyond mature. He'd faced so much loss in this life and the setbacks he faced could've destroyed what was left of him. Instead he fought all that back and focused on Hayley and his recovery. I'm so glad Hayley had the support system she had with the Beats. Life wasn't easy for her either. I could not believe how much of a harpy her boss was and that child was just evil! I'm really looking forward to reading the next book, A Different Kind of Fine, and seeing how Hayley and Nate are handling their reunion and everything that's come their way. K.K. Hendin has written a beautiful story. I can't wait to read the other books in the series about the other Beats members.
Thanks to Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review. Hayley and Nate are two souls who seem to need each other no matter the time, the hurt, or the stupid mistakes they both made. It is about second chances and it is about healing and righting the wrongs you make as teenagers. Hayley lives in a small town in Texas. She lives in a trailer home. She is quiet and kind. One day, Nate moves in the house next door. When Nate and Hayley meet they forge a strong bond. But Nate is not from a loving family and when the only relative that was left who kind of loved him died, a part of Nate died too and he didn’t know how to handle it. Nate enlists in the Marines and Hayley gets out of Texas to go to college. Hayley tries to move on for three years without anything from Nate. She is part of an Acepella band of girls and they are everything to Hayley. But they notice she isn’t happy about something and eventually they get out of her what is wrong and that she is missing Nate terribly. Nate is also missing Hayley, something fierce, and wants her back. But he is in Afghanistan and when he is the lone survivor from his unit after an explosion he slowly comes back to life without part of his leg and one eye that sort of works. He has carried with him a picture of the two of them throughout Afghanistan. As he goes through rehab, he starts making you tube videos that he hopes Hayley would see. They become very popular but Hayley doesn’t yet see them. He puts out there reasons she should come home to Texas. He interviews various people (asking them why she should come back to Texas) that range from rehab to a homeless man on the street and he posts their answers. Dang, that is sooooooo sweet and what girl wouldn’t want someone doing all that for her!?? As time moves toward Christmas where Hayley will go home and when Nate may get to go home too, what will they do? I am so glad she wrote a follow up of their story (which I just found out while posting this). Because it would really be hard to just move on with your life after all Nate has been through. And K K Hendin wrote... So, when I first started writing COME BACK TO TEXAS, I had no intention of writing a sequel. It was going to be one book, and that was it. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that Hayley and Nate's story couldn't possibly fit into just one book. And then I curled up in a corner and cried because direct sequels are scary, man. They are super scary. But I love Hayley and Nate, and I love their story, and so off I went to finish their story. Which involves a bit more heartbreak and drama, because Happily Ever After is never as simple as we want it to be, is it? ... You can add ADKOF to your Goodreads TBR right HERE- and remember, for every add, I donate more money to the Wounded Warrior Project.