Willow Springs
by Toni Blake
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-06-202461-9
Willow Springs is book five in Toni Blakeís Destiny series, and Iím sure it was long awaited by Blakeís fans. Since this is the first time Iíve read Toni Blake, I didnít originally realize that this was a book in a series as it stood very well on its own Ė charming and lovely.

Set in the quaint small town of Destiny, Ohio, we meet a large group of friends, including our heroine Amy Bright. Amy believes sheís a good friend, a good daughter, a pretty regular kind of girl. Sheís been content with her lot in life, matchmaking for her acquaintances, happily doing her bridesmaid duties for her good friends, and working at her bookstore.

Then, her oldest friend, firefighter Logan Whitaker ends up fighting a fire with his neighbors trapped inside, and they die when heís unable to save them. Logan isnít himself, he sinks into a deep pit of despair and stops taking care of himself. Amy steps in to help make sure that Loganís okay, and one day on a caretaking visit, Logan kisses Amy. Amyís stunned by Loganís kiss, and even more by the fact that it sets of a firestorm of feeling within her that she didnít know existed. Amy knows that Loganís in a bad place, and she decides to wait and see what happens between them while she thinks about her own feelings.

However, after a discussion with her girlfriends, Amy knows she has to do something to tell Logan how she feels, but theyíve been friends for so long that maybe he doesnít see her that way, and he hasnít yet said anything about their kiss. Amy decides to boldly write down her feelings, sending steamy love notes to Logan Ė anonymously. Sheís brave enough to write down her thoughts, but chickens out when it comes to signing her name.

Part of the problem is the newly arrived Anna Romo, the long lost sister of Mike Romo, Loganís best friend. Annaís smoking hot, and interested in Logan. Loganís flattered by Annaís attention and has been checking her out since she arrived.

Loganís still stressed out by the fatal fire he battled, heís stopped firefighting since and has tried to bartend at the local bar in the meantime. Heís a horrible bartender, his best friend Mikeís warning him away from Anna while Anna tries to entice him for a date, heís caught in a big grief cycle after the fire, and the only person he can really talk to is Amy, but he screwed that up with the weirdly hot kiss they shared. Now, heís receiving notes from a Secret Admirer, and heís pretty sure itís Anna.

Logan knows heís at a crossroads in his life, but he has no idea what to do. While Amy waits by the sidelines of Loganís life, wishing and hoping for him to notice that sheís capable of being more than just a friend, sheís getting impatient. Logan just might miss out on the best kind of romance if he canít start seeing his buddy Amy as a woman instead of a support system.

Willow Springs is a beautifully written self-contained story. Iím sure that each of the fun background characters have their own unique stories, and since they are so adorably written, I wouldnít mind going backwards to get to know this series from the beginning.

Logan is a great hero, heís just like the awesome guy friend that every girlís had and fallen in love with at some point. Loganís had some real issues with his life, and heís not sure how his lifeís fallen apart so completely. He doesnít know which way to turn and this confusion sure sparked Amyís maternal, caretaking instincts. Loganís also a great friend, generally thoughtful and sweet. When his romantic side perks up, itís amazing to find this different part of his personality for both Amy and the reader. I didnít expect so much smoldering sensuality to be hidden under Loganís boy-next-door faÁade and it was hot.

Amyís our every day heroine girl, I loved every moment of her realness. She was so easy to relate to and cheer for. I especially loved when she stood up for herself, and her real emotions that play throughout the story. Amy comes into her own skin by the midpoint of this tale and itís awesome. I loved it.

The only drawback to this otherwise lovely tale is the slow beginning. While I appreciate a slow build, this was too slow and I nearly put down the book before it heated up since it was getting boring.

Iím sure Toni Blakeís fans already have their copies of Willow Springs, but if you havenít tried her yet, do yourself a favor and pick up your own.

--Amy Wroblewsky

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