Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Blog Stop & Review: Taking Heart by T.J. Kline


Taking Heart
Healing Harts #2
By: T.J. Kline
Released June 2, 2015
Avon Impulse


Taking Heart

Healing Harts Series


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.

“Tomorrow?” Dylan stared at his brother. “Have you lost your mind? We can’t leave in the morning.”
“Dylan, it’s already arranged. All you need to do is pack.”
Dylan had hoped that letting his brother do the legwork would dissuade him from this pointless pursuit. There was nothing a dog, even a therapy dog, could do. He’d already seen the brochures and read the information about how they were supposed to help with mood swings and anxiety, but if pills and alcohol couldn’t touch them, how was an animal going to do anything? He ran a hand over his beard-roughened jaw, his fingers running over the marred flesh on his neck. The burns and scars had been covered with intricately colored tribal tattoos starting behind his ear, but they didn’t make the truth hurt any less. He’d been the only man from his unit to survive the attack, and he still wasn’t sure why. This wasn’t living.
Dylan saw the hope in Gage’s eyes. He really thought a dog was going to make a difference? Whatever. It wasn’t worth fighting over. If Gage wanted to take a few weeks off work and stay at some training facility, fine. He’d see soon enough that this wouldn’t help.
“Fine.” Dylan shook his head in defeat and ran a hand over his close-shaven head. “I’ll have to call Dr. Miller and let him know.”
“I’ve already called him.” Gage tossed a basket of Dylan’s laundry onto his bed and began to fold it. “For the record, he thinks it’s a great idea.”
Dylan clenched his jaw. He appreciated his brother’s help, but he wasn’t completely incompetent. He felt the always-present anger simmering just below the surface. “I’m not an invalid. I can still do my own laundry.”
Gage looked up, eyeing him curiously. “I know you can, Dylan. I wasn’t implying you couldn’t.”
“Then stop coddling me like I’m going to break. I’m already broken.” Dylan felt the familiar curtain of rage coming down over him, but he was helpless to stop it. It didn’t matter how many pills they gave him or how many behavioral exercises he tried, when an episode came on it was like a flash flood that drowned him every time. He reached out, throwing the hamper from the bed. “This is pointless.”
“Dylan . . .”
“You know damn well I can’t get on a plane, what that will do to me.”
“Fine, we’ll drive. It’s only all the way across the country.” Gage grabbed a pillow from the bed and slapped it into his brother’s hands. “You want to be pissed? Go ahead. You want to throw things? Be my guest. But use this, and you clean up whatever mess you make.” Gage turned on his heel and left the room.
It wasn’t the reaction Dylan expected. But instead of cooling, the storm inside him built, gaining momentum until he felt it swirling in his chest. He growled in rage, throwing the pillow at the wall and looking around the room for something else to throw. It only pissed him off more that every surface was already cleared. His brother had learned that lesson after Dylan’s last episode. He clenched his fists, trying to still the fury building within. Every muscle in Dylan’s body seemed to tense as he fought for control, bracing his fists on each side of the door frame. He couldn’t stop his fist when it rose of its own accord and slammed against the wall, putting a hole in it.
The pain radiating up his arm was enough to shake him from his fury, but self-loathing filled the vacuum left behind once his anger dissipated. He backed up until his legs hit the bed. His knees lost strength, unable to hold him as the adrenaline left him weak, and he dropped to sit on the edge of the mattress. Dylan looked at the bottle of pills on his nightstand, sweet oblivion that would make him forget, at least for a short while.
Just this once.
It was a lie. It wasn’t the first time he’d made that promise to himself, and he was sure it wouldn’t be the last, but he wasn’t about to take the steps down that dark path again. He looked away. He wouldn’t cave. Dylan buried his forehead in his hands, rubbing at his temples with his fingers, his right hand skimming the scar that ran from his temple to the back of his ear. He’d have been better off if that bullet had killed him.


All the previous books I have read by T.J. Kline are beautifully written and Taking Hearts is no exception. It is a heartwarming book filled with hope whilst tackling a difficult topic with such sensitivity and compassion.

I instantly grew attached to Dylan Granger's character as his story begins to unfold. Struggling with PTSD, he's just about given up hope...not able to see any future as he battles with nightmares and flashbacks. However, it is admirable that he finds the strength to try out his younger brother Gage's suggestion, even though he has no faith at all in his idea. The positive decision taken grudgingly alters the course of his life, offering a future he never dreamed would be within his reach again.

Julia Hart takes great pleasure in knowing that the therapy dogs she trains really make a difference to their new owners. Something she's learned from personal experience too, when a relationship ended badly resulting in her fighting for her life. Now with her constant four-legged friend by her side, Julia relishes her re-found freedom, knowing her protective family are always close. Everyone is on high alert when her new client and his brother arrive to find a therapy dog, only Julia sees beyond the prickly facade of the veteran soldier.


The attraction between Dylan and Julia is instant, although never felt forced or rushed. Both protagonists have a common, traumatic link that acts as a positive trait as both are able to understand each other and the struggles they both face on a daily basis. This becomes most apparent as they deal with a stalker from Julia's past that resurfaces and puts them both in danger. Their close connection and understanding of each others likely reactions, helps to keep them one step ahead of the perpetrator.

Like all the authors' other books I have read, Taking Hearts has a well researched plot offering something extra to the readers. This attention to detail adds that extra sparkle to what is already a fabulous read. This a touching, enlightening, sexy story, with some added angst. Not forgetting Julia and Dylan's story is built on trust, hope and of course love. Highly recommend!

4½ Stars

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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.


Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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