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    One of my best for 2015!

    T.J. Kline continues her Healing Harts series with her latest book, TAKING HEART, in which two people overcome their traumatic pasts with the help of their dogs and each other. It's an emotional book, full of anxiety, danger and love. The story centers mainly on our heroine Julia's work, training dogs to help people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Enter Dylan, a recent returnee from the war, injured in body and soul. Dylan doesn't want a dog but in last ditch effort to heal his troubled mind, he consents to try Julia's therapy. He finds much more than he thought he'd find in her program. Based upon real-life therapy programs that help PTSD victims from all walks of life, TAKING HEART is uplifting and delightful. The characters are richly drawn and believable. The stars of the story are the dogs themselves, described accurately and with such detail that you can see them as you read. No mean fete to accomplish. As a PTSD sufferer myself, I cannot begin to tell anyone of the comfort my own dog gave me as I dealt with feelings of fear and anxiety that threatened to take over my life in the aftermath of a serious accident. I'm writing this today because of the devotion of my dog, now gone from my life forever. I can't recommend TAKING HEART enough. It's on my best of 2015 list and it's more than worth your time.
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    A great romance

    Suffering from PTSD after returning from a war zone, Gage can't seem to get his act together enough to even feign a normal life. His brother Dylan has done his best, but he's at his wits' end when he finally convinces Gage to consider a therapy dog. Julia knows all too well what Gage is going through. She may not have seen war the way he has, but she battles everyday with the aftermath of a traumatic incident in her past. But training dogs for a living has let her continue a life of relative freedom, and matching others with the dogs they need gives her focus. She just never expected her next client would be a match for her as well. The Verdict: Julie has in many ways closed herself off from the world, and when we find out why she's so skittish, it all makes perfect sense. Gage's PTSD may be more of what we're used to, but Julia's is just as real. And that connection is a big part of what makes this story so interesting. When Julia and Gage meet, it's clear his heart isn't in it, even if Julia certainly piques his interest. Gage, it seems, has just given up, unable to believe he can ever lead a normal life. In much the same way, Julia isn't leading a normal life. She pretends to, sure, but she's not nearly as put together as she comes across. The fact that Julia lives with the same issues Gage is trying to overcome adds a new dimension to the story. While it definitely gives him an excuse to step up and be the hero, it's not just a plot device. It's a more believable layer to the relationship that develops between them, and instead of simply being someone who understands PTSD from an academic and therapy standpoint, she's someone who knows the feelings that go with it. She gets over her hesitation to be with Gage a lot faster than I expected. Then again, she's absolutely right about the dog thing. If a dog isn't threatened by someone, that someone probably isn't a threat. Their story also takes a rather dramatic turn pretty quickly when someone from Julia's past begins stalking and intimidating her, but Gage is also sharp enough to recognize danger when he sees it. To be honest, I expected that Julia would do something stupid to put herself in danger, simply because that's what romance novels general serve up. But when the critical moment came, I totally understood how she got there and why it was initially impossible to escape. But that's when we see Gage's heart in full. While he's developed some strong feelings, the situation brings everything to the forefront, making him face his own fears while challenging him to be the soldier he once was. It's a very intriguing circle he makes, showing growth of his character in a different way than I'm used to. While the subject matter is serious, and there's definitely a heavy helping of drama and suspense, don't let it fool you. Taking Heart is not dark and twisted, and even when things get heavy, there's a real feeling of hope just around the corner. Julia and Gage make for the perfect couple, truly understanding the path each other is on instead of just helping each other along, and it makes for a great romance. ***FicCentral received this book from Harper Collins (via Edelweiss) for free in exchange for an honest review.
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    Not to be missed!

    Dylan is a broken man because of what happened to him in Afghanistan; he suffers from PTSD; animal therapy is the last resort. He sees no hope for his future, and even though he is attracted to Julia, he is convinced no one will ever want him. Julia feels for the first time in four years but Dylan is not exactly easy to know, and she is afraid to get close to anyone because of a horrific experience. How wonderful it was to see Dylan and Julia get closer to each other while he is training his dog, it feels seamless and natural, and we get to know them as well. Ms. Kline knows how to set the mood and describe settings in such a way that they become real to the reader, and the characters are even more compelling than in the first book, Heart’s Desire. Details of how animal therapy works are woven in the narrative and the dogs are secondary characters, but realistically so; they’re not there for the “cute” factor. PTSD and animal therapy are the basis for this romance, and they are what make TAKING HEART such a powerful book and extraordinary book, as well as watching Dylan and Julia interact, with each other and their families. And when Julia’s stalker re-enters her life, be prepared to read uninterrupted: the suspense is almost crushing. TAKING HEART is a frightening, beautiful, difficult, wonderful, romantic and emotional book that will fill your heart with hope. T. J. Kline demonstrates again what an extraordinary writer she is.
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    Beautifully written with so much emotion

    Loved it! Beautifully written with so much emotion, I was in tears in a few places. Both Dylan and Julia struggle with PTSD and are using dogs to help them cope. The dogs were such an important part to their story, and really put a spotlight on service dogs. Highly recommend this book and the series, can't wait for Julia's brother Justin's story! ARC via Edelweiss
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