I Will Meet You There by S M HardingI Will Meet You There by S.M. Harding is a mystery wrapped in a toaster oven romance featuring a Sheriff and an ex-marine.

After 25 years in the Marine Corp Intelligence Service, Win Kirkland is somewhat used to danger. But when a sniper’s bullet enters her home, the quiet life retirement had promised is in danger of collapsing around her.

Sheriff Sarah Barrow Pitt has known Win Kirkland for a long time. In fact, they were once best friends. When Sarah is called upon to investigate an attack on Win’s home, Sarah is thrown into turmoil.

Could it be that Win is the one she should have been with all along? Is the timing all wrong with a Sheriff election race looming? With Win’s life in apparent danger, and Sarah’s career in a conservative state on the line, will their relationship survive?

The Characters

Win is a bit of an enigma. We see a lot more character development with Sarah’s character, but I liked Win a lot. She is exactly the kind of damaged, strong, silent type that a lot of readers look for in their leads, and anyone looking for something like that in this book will not be disappointed.

Sarah is the main character, and she goes through a character arc that is worthy of that title. Sarah has lived her whole life with the goal of following in her father’s footsteps, and this story takes place as she faces running for Sheriff as the incumbent. I liked Sarah, she is passionate, smart, and well respected.

Sarah’s father is the character who doesn’t feature as much as he could, but when he does it always adds something to the story. He follows that stereotype of being the thoughtful, strong, much admired retired Sheriff, and plays perfectly alongside the emotional turmoil of Sarah. In lots of ways Micah is an older, male version of Win, and there are interesting parallels in what they bring to Sarah’s life.

The Writing Style

This book is a slower paced book, but don’t be put off by that. There is lots to like about the slower pace, and I felt like it suited both the characters and the setting.  Harding expertly crafts a mystery plot around her romance and there was sufficient in that mystery plot line to keep me interested.

The Pros

This is a respectfully written coming out story, and while many things have changed in the world since this book was written, I think almost every reader can identify in some way with Sarah and her character arc.

The Cons

I didn’t have any cons for this book, although it was not what I expected at all. Heavier on the romance than I might otherwise have chosen to read, this book has enough mystery to make me read it again.

The Conclusion

This was a bit of a surprise package for me, but a happy surprise. I enjoyed the characters and I liked that Harding chose to wrap her middle age coming out story in a mystery, which is quite rare. While the romantic storyline is prominent, there is far more to this book than that would suggest, and the real win for Harding is the exceptional character development throughout. A slower moving mystery, but definitely one to add to your list of books to read. A notable debut from S.M. Harding.

Excerpt from I Will Meet You There by S.M. Harding

I’d known Win since first grade, and as friends do, shared secrets with her. She’d told me she was gay our sophomore year in high school. Win dropped out of college after her freshman year, joined the marines and when she retired from the Intelligence Agency, had come home. She’d also brought the war home in the form of David Paria, who’d tried to kill her. The case had brought us back together.

Last week, she’d invited me to see the new house she’d designed and finally moved into. We’d ended up talking about Hugh. For the first time, I didn’t hear the warp in my voice, the reluctance to say his name or tell his death. Win, in return, had given stories of Afghanistan, Iraq, places all over the Middle East and North Africa. Not adventures, but journeys of understanding.

The warmth of the fire in the fieldstone fireplace against the snow outside, the openness of Wins face and the way she listened to all combined to make me relax. Not think about work, but to say things I’d only thought.

As I took my leave, we stood at the same height by the door.

“What do you want the next chapter of your life to read?” Win asked.

“No idea, I just keep reading word to word. You?”

“To stop ducking at every backfire. Otherwise, it’s a blank page.”

We hugged, but instead of stepping back, she pulled me close and kissed me.

“You run this past Win yet?” Dad asked.

His voice shocked me back from a bewildering cascade of feelings.

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781594934667
  • Publisher: Bella Books

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