"Sometimes, I feel like I'm watching a movie...that it's not really me, Claire Richards, getting this second chance at life."
Single mom and college professor Claire Richards only wanted a few hours of me time to soak in her tub, read a book, and drink wine.
But tragedy struck, and Claire found herself with a lot more me time than she bargained for.
Three years later, Claire is still mourning her losses when Aiken Fordham--who captivates her with his Mediterranean blue eyes and tanned skin--moves in right next door.
Forcing Claire to face her fears, Aiken almost forgets his reason for moving to Small Town, Pennsylvania. Falling for the sexy, smart, and strong professor next door was never in the plan.
But now it is... until their future intersects with their pasts.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Rounding up from 3.5 stars. This book includes a truly beautiful romance story. Claire is struggling to move past the losses she has endured but Aiken is just the man to help her start to move forward. Aiken is supportive and patient and almost too perfect for most of the book. If the story had just been focused on these two characters building a relationship and a future together then I probably would have given it 5 stars. But Aiden is also searching for his long lost mother and the parts of the plot dealing with that and connecting it back to the relationship between Aiken and Claire didn't exactly work for me. It's not that I had a problem with what was revealed, it was more about the way it unfolded and that didn't work for me. I still really enjoyed a good portion of this book and I recommend it based on the beautiful romance. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Heart Stronger by Rachel Blaufeld is about healing and second chances. Both the main characters, Claire and Aiken, need closure to losses, and they aren’t looking for love, but they do find it. Since the death of her daughter four years ago, Claire has just existed. The once vibrant 36-year-old woman avoids life by overloading her schedule with work. Her loss is heart breaking, and it makes her easy to empathize with her. When 32-year-old Aiken moves in next door, she barely acknowledges him, but Aiken’s patient persistence wears her down. How could she resist his good looks and kindness for so long? I enjoyed the pace at which their relationship develops but I didn’t buy into Claire’s immature responses (relative to the relationship). She is probably supposed to be seen as gun shy, but it read more like a YA/NA angsty romance. I also struggled with Claire’s histrionics about their age difference since she is only four years older than Aiken. The story is told in a first-person narrative from both Aiken and Claire’s perspective. The pace is leisurely, and that lends realism to the pace of their relationship. The characters and scenes are adequately developed, but Ms. Blaufeld use of secret keeping to build plot tension and angst didn’t work this time. Heart Stronger is wrapped up with a very quick “about face” change of heart by Claire, but the epilogue is nicely done and provides readers with a satisfying HEA. However, the abrupt cliffhanger leaves much to be desired in terms of being a tantalizing segue to the obviously planned second book. Overall, Heart Stronger is a nice, easy-to-read romance.
Amazing beautiful story.
I voluntarily read an ARC of this book for an honest review. This was a great story. I loved how the characters were written and how their meeting seemed to be fate, and their lives ended up being so intertwined. Aiken Fordham, a man who is looking for answers and his mother. Moves into a quint little place in Pennsylvania, where his mother grew up and returned to after leaving him and his father when Aiken was very young. He is now thirty years old, but he needs to know where his mom went, and why she left. Meeting the beautiful college professor next door, is just a bonus. Claire Richards, a college professor, divorcee, woman who is still reeling from the death of her little girl three years ago. She just can't seem to move on from the tragic day she lost her little girl. She needs closure and she never got it. Who was behind the terrible tragedy that took her little girl from her? She needs to be teaching this summer to keep her busy and her mind on other things. Her dog Smitty is friendlier than she is when she meets her new neighbor for the first time. She's not ready to share anything about her life, especially with a stranger, and someone who makes her heart beat so quickly. Aiken and Claire have a lot to work through if they want to share their lives and have their happily ever after. Claire's best friend and boss, Mary, has Claire's best interests in mind when she doesn't schedule her to teach for the summer, and she will work behind Claire's back to help Aiken win her heart. Can Aiken and Claire put their pasts behind them and live for the future? There are a few twists through this story and a bit of hotness as well. I give this book a 5 star review. It is well written and the characters are well formed and very likable.
I was interested in this book because of the older woman aspect, as I connect with that kind of story. There were a lot of emotional details to this story. Claire was a woman who had lost her daughter, and had divorced her husband before that happened. Aiken lost his mom years ago when she left him and his father. But he's never given up searching for his mom, and that is what had led him to the house right next door to Claire. Claire hasn't ever really moved on from losing her daughter. She doesn't go out with men, pretty much just throws herself into her work, despite the efforts of her best friend Mary, who is also her boss. Aiken doesn't give up on anything really, when he first sees Claire, he is intrigued and sets his mind to get her to go out with him. At first he doesn't know about her daughter, and she doesn't tell him. When he finds out, he changes his way of getting to know her and trying to get her to give him a chance. Claire does give in, and tries a relationship with him, she can't seem to deny the attraction between them. But she still doesn't see it as being anything other than temporary, I mean, he is younger than her, and she is insecure in that. When she sees him talking to a girl that is in one of her classes at the college, she gets jealous, and assumes that he has decided to move on to someone younger, just as she expected. But she is wrong, and he does his best to convince her. The more Aiken learns about his missing mother, he finds there is some kind of connection between her and Claire, one that he is afraid to let Claire know about until he finds out the actual truth of it. For the most part I enjoyed this. But it was a pretty simple story, nothing really different about it, other than possibly the connection between Claire and Aiken's mother that we find out at the end. I didn't like the way Aiken handled that, the length of time it took, just didn't work for me on how he had been up to that point. Until then, he had seemed to know exactly how to give her space, how to back off when she would push her away. He knew how to include her daughter to help Claire feel like she wasn't forgetting her, and that she was still a part of her life. It was an easy read though, and the romance was sweet. I think we were left with a bit of a cliffhanger ending with Claire's friend Mary, and I would assume there will be a sequel or standalone book about her.