In the first entry in the Madison River Romance series, Keira Knudsen gets the traveling opportunity of a lifetime, but when she reunites with her first love, Robbie, she learns that even a wandering heart needs a home….
No one in the quaint town of West Yellowstone, Montana knows that unassuming geography teacher Keira Knudsen moonlights as sensational travel blogger Kat Wanderfull. No one, that is, except for her first love, Robbie Matthews, who has just discovered the woman he is falling for online is the same one that broke his heart five years ago.
But Robbie has another problem: the mother of his daughter, Anabelle, has resurfaced after a three-year absence determined to rip Anabelle away from him. Robbie needs a steady paycheck for a chance at custody, and now, on the eve of a grand adventure that could give Keira a chance to flee her old, troubled life once and for all, she is in need of assistance.
With so much broken trust between them, Keira and Robbie must keep an arms-length away to make this partnership work. But the more time they spend together, exploring majestic places and sharing new experiences, the closer they get–until their secrets and dreams threaten to cost them everything.
I enjoyed reading This Wandering Heart, set in a small town in Montana. Keira carries a lot of emotional baggage from her abusive childhood. She has returned to West Yellowstone to be closer to her long-suffering mother who is still experiencing domestic violence from Keira’s controlling father.
The story opens in Robbie’s viewpoint, and we first meet Keira when she turns down a very public marriage proposal. Robbie is a single dad who knew his ex-girlfriend and childhood friend had returned to town, but he didn’t expect to stumble upon a grand gesture wedding proposal featuring Keira and the high school principal.
Robbie has a complicated history with Keira, and it was his family who supported Keira in escaping her abusive and controlling father and moving away to college. Robbie is living on his family’s property by the river where they rent vacation cabins, and he’s now a builder who’s doing his best to support his three year old daughter, Annabelle, who was abandoned by her mother when she was a young baby.
Keira’s treading water as a geography teacher. Her dream is to turn her passion for travel blogging and her Kat Wanderfull persona into a full time career. She doesn’t trust people easily, and she is unaware the person she’s chatting with via online messages is Robbie.
A fun and messy romance develops as old feelings resurface and they both wonder if a second at love is possible. Robbie supports Keira’s dreams, but their relationship has to overcome major obstacles from their shared history. Keira’s desire to travel is at odds with Robbie’s need for stability for his daughter now his ex is taking legal action to get custody. Keira adores Annabelle and they share a close bond.
I loved the travel aspects in the story, especially the road trips that gave me a glimpse of the beauty in the national parks in Montana and surrounding states. Keira’s heart is torn between her desire for freedom that allows her to leave behind her difficult childhood and the prospect of a new life with love and family in the small town that holds bittersweet childhood memories. I recommend This Wandering Heart to readers who like second chances contemporary romances with a lighter faith element that aren’t afraid to sensitively address challenging emotional issues.