I requested this book from NetGalley specifically because of its Anxiety and Complex PTSD representation. On those fronts this book worked aces for me. The internal lives of Jodie Slaughter’s characters worked exceedingly well for me as a reader. I thought it was very thoughtful about the way mental health struggles were portrayed as part of the overall story, and as a driving factor in that story.
Because it is a driving factor, the leads could understand that part of each other’s experience and be supportive of each other. But let’s back up, the book opens with our heroine, Aja Owens, meeting a handsome stranger in the grocery store while having a panic attack and he stays with her until it passes. They go their separate ways, Aja not even sure she would recognize him again, until he turns up at her weekly bingo night – he’s the grandson of her best bingo buddy.
Walker Abbott is in town only to help his grandmother during her recovery from two broken arms, and he wants to be gone as soon as possible, as his hometown is full of judgement and the development of his PTSD and anxiety. But he finds Aja Owens irresistibly beautiful, they understand each other but know that any relationship that might strike up would be over in a matter of weeks as Walker is leaving and Aja is staying in the place that is feeling like home, finally, away from big city pressures.
The pair are swoon worthy. But… I’m rating this one three stars, not four and that’s because while lots of it worked for me, there were some things that didn’t. There was a certain amount of expectations problem, the book was heavier than I expected based on the blurb and cover. I also wished there were more quiet moments of seeing them fall in love, more lighthearted moments, and more time spent in this sweet small town, I wanted more of the side characters and charm to help balance the tone and move the plot more naturally.
I receieved an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, it has not affected the contents of the review.
Content notes: panic attacks (on page), discussion of mental health/anxiety/PTSD. Parental trouble/toxic relationships (Walker’s father is a recovering drug addict), small town gossip (hurtful), child neglect (past).
Bingo Square: Hot (There are some very hot sexy times in this book.)