I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.
I really enjoy Kele Moon's Battered Hearts series and have been anticipating the next installment, Crossing the Line, which is Wyatt's story. I'm glad I read a couple of reviews before I started it because it is different. It starts at the end of book two then shows the whole backstory of Tabitha and Wyatt, starting when they are in elementary school.
I thought it was sad. Tabitha, and Clay (from book one), who is her childhood friend, have terrible, terrible childhoods. Tabitha, a writer who has been gone for thirteen years, returns to her home town to help her sick mother, who is undergoing heart surgery. We know from the two previous books that she broke Wyatt's heart and that they are still married, but have no contact.
Wyatt is the local, small-town sheriff. He was an MMA fighter and now trains others in the sport in his spare time. He's a bit of a lovable, loud-mouthed block-head, and I mean that with affection. Showing his backstory helped me appreciate him more, and enjoy and root for him in this book.
What has kept them apart is a huge secret. I thought Moon handled this really well. It was heartbreaking. Part of what made it so strong was how she showed their backstory, versus having a few tearful talks about their past. So while there was a lot of time spent with the characters when they were young, roughly half the book, that makes the secret and their reaction to it hold up.
What I am scratching my head over is why, during their younger years (up to age 21), they kept their relationship a secret from their parents. It's explained, but maybe I'm not appreciating how much Tabitha saw it as protecting her mother. Tabitha is very codependent in her relationship with her mother. This is acknowledged in the book, by multiple characters, and that helped, since codependence to that level isn't a favorite character trait of mine. But I also wonder, since Tabitha was getting abused at home, why not shout to everyone that your boyfriend is this huge dude, who has multiple blackbelts, and is the sheriff's son? (Not that I'm advocating having/needing a guy to protect her, but I just don't know why she wouldn't have been out about their relationship.) The plot still works for me despite these questions, but it meant that Wy and Tab spend a lot of time in hiding.
Overall, I really liked Crossing the Line and I think it is a strong contemporary romance. The sexytimes were more on the side of tender and sweet, but they were a nice break. The rest of their lives were angsty so it was nice their sex scenes could just be straightforward and loving.
Moon's dialogue is one of her absolute strengths. Love it. Add in a Moretti (Romeo's family from book two) and it is even better. So, so funny. I'd forgotten how much the characters all punch each other and wrestle. But they do and it works. There were also scenes with Wyatt's father Fred and that was weirdly nice since his death is featured in book two. He was exactly the kind of person you would want as a sheriff and dad. In a book that had a few asshole parents, Fred was a refreshing change. He loved his kids.
Wyatt and Tabitha love each other HARD, and for those who like soul mate stories, and perhaps some YA, this is a great read. The book was also divided into sections, each with a quotation from a boxer or martial artist. These totally added to the story. Loved them.