Kate MacIntire is determined to live life on her own terms. No muss, no fuss. But when motorcycle riding, free spirit Jack Harden enters the picture, she has no choice but to reconsider.

Moving from Boston to the charming town of Silver Bay, California was supposed to be Kate’s fresh start from a painful past relationship, and she’s happy with the life she’s building for herself. Order and structure, just the way her somewhat-control-freak self likes it. Until Jack.

Never one to turn down an adventure or a challenge, Jack wants nothing more than to see Kate let loose and embrace the carefree woman she used to be.

But when her past catches up with them, can loving Kate be enough for Jack to break through the walls she’s built to protect herself?

Titles in the Silver Bay series include:  Return To Silver Bay – Loving Kate – Saving Drew

Title:  Loving Kate
Series:  Silver Bay #2
Author:  Lara Van Hulzen
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Published:  August 18, 2016
Publisher:  Tule Publishing
My Rating:  4.5 stars

Kate has left everything behind on the East Coast.  Her abusive, controlling husband.  The rigid, controlling life she led.  Her nightmares and fears.  All in the past, and if she’s leery of believing that they’ll stay neatly in the past…  well, she has good reasons for those fears.

She’s making a brand new life in this lovely small California town of Silver Bay.  She’s discovered a sister she never knew.  She’s opened up an interior design business, doing exactly what she loves.  She’s living life free of the constant fears she once felt every moment of the day.  Here she can live again, and while she doesn’t need a man in her life ever again.  Friends would be nice.

Jack first encountered Kate at Josh and Maggie’s wedding.  A newly discovered sister for his brand new sister-in-law… and a woman he’d very much like to know, get her to let loose a bit, enjoy life.  he didn’t know her entire story, but he did want to learn.  The attraction was there, now he’d see where it went to.

Loving Kate is a touching, emotional story of one woman’s determination to rebuild her life after escaping an abusive marriage.  It’s not easy to trust again, and her ex-husband is still playing his control games even when she’s no longer under his thumb.  It will take a strong man to ease Kate beyond what she knew as normal into the possibilities that exist, especially between them.

Their story is tender where it needed to be, and yet firm in other areas.  Jack is learning how to help Kate, there may be missteps along the way, not intended but until he has the entire story he doesn’t always know what minefield he walking onto.  Theirs is a growing relationship from friendship to love in steps that Kate can handle.  Oh, she’s stronger than she sometimes thinks but it will not be an easy journey for them.  The love between a man and a woman is a gift given to each other – and that is what Kate has to learn to trust in.  Jack is a strong man who knows when to use a gentle touch to help Kate live again, and believe in the possibilities that they could have in a shared future.

It’s not always easy to convey the nuances of an abusive relationship to someone on the outside.  Lara Van Hulzen has approached this sensitive subject with respect, humor, and believably.  You will get caught up in this couple’s journey, you’ll feel anger, sadness, rage, hope  … and in the end, the love that heals and lasts a lifetime.

I would recommend Loving Kate to any Romance reader who enjoys a good solid story, relatable couples, secondary characters who add another level to the story, and definitely the “feels” that a good romance done well gives us all.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*

Available in paperback and for the Kindle