Within minutes of arriving in her hometown after an eight year absence, Julianna Markum runs into Pace Carter, the last person she expected to see. Pace was her best friend during high school, but she left town without telling him, knowingly breaking his heart. Now that she’s back to help care for her ailing aunt, Julianna wants to make things right with Pace. If she could only find the words to explain why she left and why she didn’t tell him goodbye.
A Reason to Stay is a standalone contemporary romance novella, and it begins when Julianna Markum returns to her hometown, Hartfield, after leaving abruptly eight years ago. L.S. Murphy writes beautifully, and she drew me in right from the start.
Julianna and Pace have been best friends for years. Growing up, they were always there for each others, and Pace was the only one who could comfort her when she found out about the death of her parents. Julianna has a lot of childhood memories which are embedded throughout the novella, and every single one of them involves Pace.
I ran my hand over the blanket, hearing our laughter as we pointed out shapes in the clouds or constellations in the night sky. Pace was my childhood.
They have a history together, something that can't be erased even by eight years of absence. I loved the chemistry between them - it was deep, interesting and full of sparks. They start out a little awkward around each other, which is expected. Pace has been waiting for Julianna for so many years, and now that she's back, he's not sure how he feels. He's mad at her for leaving without saying goodbye, but at the same time he's just relieved she came back. His feelings for her haven't gone away, and neither have hers. A Reason to Stay shows us how Julianna and Pace overcome obstacles in their relationship and finally tell each other how they feel.
I loved Pace's character in this novella. He's a cop, which I find really cool, and he's also kind, compassionate, loving and loyal. Plus, he'd do anything for Julianna.
“I would’ve gone to China if you’d asked me.”
That's how much he loves her. Julianna's lucky to have grown up with a friend like him, and she's lucky to have him after returning to Hartfield as well.
Julianna, though, I have slightly mixed feelings for. I admire her for her strength and independence. She left Hartfield to find out what happened to her parents, and she did it all on her own. I didn't like her real reason for leaving, though. She has a lot of irrational fears, and I don't think there's any place for those in her life. Not anymore. I also thought she was quite paranoid when it came to Pace. I mean, the reason she didn't come back after three months was because Stacey, her cousin, told her Pace was seeing someone else. What kind of a reason is that to not go back to your home? Her Aunt Helen is there, Stacey is there, and it's the place she grew up - the place where all her memories are tied. To stay away for so many years because the guy she loves is seeing another girl seems kind of weird to me.
A Reason to Stay had a fairytale ending, which was expected but at the same time really touching. Julianna finally realizes her parents are dead and she can't do anything about it, and the rest... Well, I don't want to give it away! My only problem with this novella is that it was too short. I really wish it had been a full-length novel, so there would be space for character and plot development. It felt a little rushed to me, but I loved a lot of aspects about it. It's short and sweet, and I think it's worth the read. If you're into light and contemporary romance, you'll love A Reason to Stay!