I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.In the Key of Family by Makenna Lee
Series: Home to Oak Hollow #2
Published by Harlequin, Harlequin Special Edition on May 25, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Family Life, Fiction, General, Small Town & Rural, Romance
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Big-city free spirit meets small-town cop. And a symphony begins...
A homestay in Oak Hollow is Alexandra Roth's final excursion before settling in to her big-city career. Officer Luke Walker, her not-so-welcoming host, isn't sure about the "crunchy" music therapist. Yet his recently orphaned nephew with autism instantly grooves to the beat of Alex's drum. Together, this trio really strikes a chord. But is love enough to keep Alex from returning to her solo act?
From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.
For more relatable stories of love, community and family read the other books in the Home to Oak Hollow series:
Book 1: A Sheriff's Star
Book 2: In the Key of Family
Book 3: A Child's Christmas Wish
In they Key of Family is the first book that I’ve read by Makenna Lee, and I was blown away. I enjoyed everything about this book so much that I’m sharing an excerpt from chapter 1. Stick around after the excerpt for my review.
In the Key of Family – Excerpt
Alexandra Roth stumbled back when the Acorn Café door fired open, and a tall cowboy rushed out with a large bag of ice over one shoulder and a twelve-pack of beer under the other. He sidestepped just in time to avoid sending her sprawling onto the hot sidewalk, and his obsidian eyes sprang wide.
“Pardon me, ma’am. So sorry.”
“It’s…okay.” She barely managed to squeak the words out past her surprise and a flare of attraction.
Were all the Oak Hollow residents this polite? And this smoking hot? She adjusted the guitar case over one shoulder, pulled out her cell phone and snapped a photo of him walking away. The historic town square created the perfect backdrop to frame his powerful form. Tight maroon T-shirt over bulging muscles, worn jeans, hat, boots and enough swagger to get a girl’s motor revving. A genuine cowboy in the flesh. Not something she often saw back home in Manhattan.
He paused, and she thought she’d been caught taking his picture, but after a few beats he continued across the street to a black truck. Attempting to look nonchalant, she leaned her large rolling suitcase against a post and sat on top. Her movie-star sunglasses were the perfect concealment for stealthy observation. The cowboy handled his purchases like they weighed nothing, but his flexing muscles told a different story as he put them on the tailgate and leaned in to drag over a cooler. Ice cascaded and chimed like musical notes over the glass bottles.
Alex didn’t want to take her eyes off him long enough to dig out her sketch pad, so she’d have to use her memory and the one photo to paint his image. A hot breeze fluttered her billowy sleeves, and she wished for some of his ice to cool her heated skin. Beer wasn’t her drink of choice, but putting a cold amber bottle to her lips sounded pretty good about now. Maybe she’d run into him again, and they could share a drink, or a meal, or…
The star of her developing fantasy slammed his tailgate. His eyes were hidden in the shade of his cowboy hat, but the wide grin he shot her way was as clear as Waterford Crystal, and she knew she’d been caught staring. Rather than looking away in embarrassment, she returned his smile. He gripped the brim of his hat in a sort of cowboy salute, then climbed into the cab and started the engine. It wasn’t the first time she’d been caught observing someone whose likeness she wished to capture with paint.
Once he’d driven down Main Street, Alex studied the covert photo on her phone, only feeling a smidge guilty about taking it without permission. But you couldn’t see his face, which was unfortunate because it had been a really nice face—all angles and strong lines, tan skin and a bit of dark, sexy stubble. It would be the first watercolor painting she’d work on once she got settled. If she didn’t melt in this oppressive Texas summer heat. She gathered her long mass of auburn hair, twisted it into a messy bun and secured it with two paintbrushes from the front pocket of her guitar case.
In the Key of Family is one of those books where I felt instantly at home with the small town setting and with the characters as well. Alexandra Roth is between careers, waiting on the call that she’s being offered her dream job as a music therapist at a fantastic medical practice in New York City. Since she has some time, Alex decides to go on a hunt for the father that she never knew–the father that died before even knowing she was on the way. What she finds in Oak Hollow, Texas, has her questioning her life in ways that she never thought possible. Especially after meeting the handsome cop who rented a room to her online, thinking she was a man.
Officer Luke Walker is still reeling from his sister’s unexpected illness and death, and he’s certainly adjusting to being his autistic nephew’s caretaker. While he’s single-mindedly focused on Cody and his challenges, Alex slips right into their life so seamlessly he questions what they’ll do when she returns to Manhattan. There’s an instant attraction between Alex and Luke that they refuse to act on, knowing that Cody could be collateral damage if things go south.
Alex is searching for her past, and her carefree, musical spirit is just what Cody needs in his life. She gets Cody on a level that Luke doesn’t, and she can calm Cody down on his worst days. Luke knows she’s here for secret reasons, and he just wants to discover what they are and help her. The entire cast in this book was a delight to read, and I really loved the glimpse into their lives in this delightful town that encompassed In the Key of Family.
I give In the Key of Family a five out of five. I immediately felt at home with the characters and the setting, and this is in the top five best books that I’ve read this year. The twists weren’t entirely predictable, but overall, this is a story about family’s made and found, and to enjoy the fun, love, and joy along the way. I highly recommend this series.
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About Makenna Lee
Makenna Lee is an award-winning romance author living in the Texas Hill Country with her real-life hero and their two children. Her oldest son has Down syndrome and taught her to appreciate the little things, and he inspired one of her novels. As a child, she played in the woods, looked for fairies under toadstools, and daydreamed. Her writing journey began when she mentioned all her story ideas, and her husband asked why she wasn’t writing them down. The next day she bought a laptop, started her first book, and knew she’d found her passion. Now, Makenna is often drinking coffee while writing, reading, or plotting a new story. Her wish is to write books that touch your heart, making you feel, think, and dream. She enjoys renaissance festivals, nature photography, studying herbal medicine, and usually listens to Celtic music while writing. She writes for Harlequin and Entangled Publishing and believes everyone deserves a happy ending.
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