A Stella Review: How to Heal (Lovestrong #5) by Susan Hawke

RATING 3 out of 5 stars

Take one former bully, unable to forgive himself for the sins of his past…
Clark Danvers is a wild twenty-one year old who’s trying to prove he’s an adult. With a two-year degree in hand, he manages the family car dealership and seemingly parties by night. Given the amount of times he’s been pulled over for speeding by Deputy Rick Matthews, public opinion seems to be right. But what people don’t see are the scars he carries both inside and out. Scars from a past he can’t run away from and will never be able to atone for, no matter how many times he beats himself over it.

Add one no-nonsense cop who longs to be a Daddy for the right boy…
Jericho “Rick” Matthews never expects the bratty kid who gets on his last nerve to pull at his heartstrings. When he finds Clark battered and fighting for his life in a motel room, Rick’s Daddy mode is instantly engaged. Before he can think of anything else, he must first comfort this hurting boy.

To equal a pair of men who might just be what the other needs.
The two men who thought they couldn’t stand each other are drawn together after a date gone wrong. While Rick tenderly cares for Clark, he decides what this brat needs is a Daddy… someone to help him break free from the past and embrace the promise of many happy tomorrows.

This is the fifth book in the LOVESTRONG series about finding love and being yourself in a small town. Intended only for 18+ readers, this is an mm romance full of all the sweet feels you’d want from an S. Hawke book.

Note: Possible trigger warning for mentions of self-harm and a scene involving a man who’s consented to having himself tied up. What he didn’t agree to was being left that way for an entire weekend. This highly emotional scene is the catalyst to evoke “Daddy’s” protective mode in a tale filled with themes of hurt and comfort and the struggle of overcoming a difficult past.

I wasn’t sure how to rate How To Heal, at the end I settled with a 3 stars. First I have to say, please read the note at the end of the blurb, that scene was so hard for me to read, it broke my heart. Be aware of the trigger too.

Although a couple of things didn’t work with me, this new installment in the Lovestrong series was very well done, I enjoyed till the last chapter. Both Rick and Clark were men with a past, Clark’s one was a little heavier to accept and the young man so far didn’t make a good job at trying to forgive himself and the mistakes he made when he was fifteen years old. If you read the series and in particular How Not To Blend, you know what I’m talking about. Rick seemed to be the right person to be able to help Clark and build a future together. They were characters well defined, loveable, good at the heart.

That said, let’s talk about what didn’t work for me. Since this is part of a series, as often happens, I already met these characters, I ached for Clark because I saw how much he was abused too. I knew there was going to be some kind of redemption for him and I was happy to see some happy times were coming. I already met Rick too and then when I found him here in this new novel, I had trouble to recognise him, I felt him so different from what I already saw of him, it was almost like reading about a stranger-to-me character. Moreover, although I can understand the dynamic the author wanted to create, I think it was too much, too forced and to me it wasn’t ok at all. Clark was too childish, Rick too overbearing.

Still, I hope there will be more coming soon from Susan Hawke.

The cover art by Ana J Phoenix is simple, I can easily see Clark in the model, I like it.

Sales Links:  Amazon


Kindle Edition, 277 pages

Published April 14th 2019


Edition Language English

Series Lovestrong #5

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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