Blog Tour Review | Taking Heart (Healing Harts #2) by T.J. Kline

T. J. Kline's Healing Harts series continues as a soldier suffering from PTSD and a therapy dog trainer find that some scars can only be healed by love...

Julia Hart knows how much good she does training therapy dogs—it's what helped her overcome her own trials after a relationship turned unexpectedly violent. But moving beyond her mistakes meant trusting only her family with her heart.

Dylan, a former soldier, has run out of hope for recovery. Plagued by nightmares and flashbacks, he doubts anything will help him overcome his PTSD. When his brother convinces him to try one last time, he agrees to get a therapy dog.

Dylan didn't expect to find Julia or a chance for a "normal" future again. But when Julia's attacker is released from prison, Dylan and Julia will have to face the past together.

I'm already a big fan of T.J. Kline and TAKING HEART is just as amazing as her previous novels. You get so drawn in by the spark between Julia and Dylan, two wounded souls struggling with the enduring effects of PTSD. Though they both suffered very different traumas, they have a unique bond and an understanding of what it means to be pulled back into a pit of fear and anger at the drop of a hat. The attraction between Dylan and Julia seems to leap off the page from their very first encounter and is only strengthened as they work to heal each other with the help of some trusty canine companions. 

I think TAKING HEART was even better than the first book in the series, HEART'S DESIRE. There's a suspenseful, psychological element to the story which was really intriguing, but I also really enjoyed learning more about the struggles of PTSD and how animals can help alleviate negative emotions and keep someone centered. It was so interesting to learn how service dogs are trained for different purposes and that fascination I felt made me much more invested in the characters and their story. 

One of the amazing things about this series is the way in which T.J. Kline creates complex, developed personalities for the animals in the books, giving them the same attention most authors give human characters. Not only does this really allow you to connect with their emotions and the love and devotion they feel for their owners, but it gives you a greater understanding of the connection which Julia shares with the dogs she trains. Tango is almost an extension of Julia that helps her remain grounded and calm when fear and anxiety threaten to swallow her whole. Some of the strongest emotions I felt were caused by the actions of the dogs in the story. When Julia relives the moment in which Misty is killed protecting her from Evan's vicious attack, and later when Tango is shot in an attempt to protect her, I couldn't help but tear up. Those moments were just gut-wrenching. 

Julia and Dylan's romance developed quickly but their love felt genuine. They shared a great balance of sweet and sultry moments, with some laughs thrown in along the way. I loved the running joke of Dylan's brother, Gage, constantly walking in at inopportune moments, catching them in a heated embrace. I also laughed out loud when Julia and Bailey had to orchestrate a covert operation just to get a condom. I really appreciated the addition of Chase as a secondary character and hope to see him finally get the girl in a future novel. 

Go read this book. It's touching, funny, sexy and romantic, with a good dose of suspense thrown into the mix to keep you on your toes. The characters (both human and canine) are well-developed and really pull you in. Plus, who doesn't love watching two scarred, wonderful people find love despite thinking it would never happen for them? I know I do!

Disclaimer: I received this book free in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions shared are my own.

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Enter the tour-wide giveaway below for a chance to win 1 of 5 digital downloads of HEART’S DESIRE, book 1 in the series.

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T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and rodeo queen competitions since the age of 14, She has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She has had several articles about rodeo published in the past in small periodicals as well as a more recent how-to article for RevWriter. She is also an avid reader and book reviewer for both Tyndale and Multnomah.
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