Two outcasts shared a friendship in childhood, but for Asher Swain, his memories were tortured by an accident that claimed his only friend.
Years later, he met a woman reading as she sat by a pond in a park. The two strangers began a friendship over a love of literature that developed into love for each other.
But, when Asher realized they shared a past as well as their present, he kept his secret, afraid for Penelope to find out who he really was.
When the truth is revealed, will they be ripped apart or will their love make them stronger?
Loosely based on the fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling.
Language and sexual situations similar to what you would find in an R-rated movie.
Asher Swain suffered horrific abuse as a child at the hands of someone who was supposed to protect him, his mother. She allowed men into her life that abused not only Asher, but herself. Asher’s only comfort was in his best friend, Penny. She and Asher met at school and became instant best friends. All hopes of happiness dashed in an instant as his mom’s drunken boyfriend’s truck slammed into Penny. Even though Asher lost his best friend, he’s lucky to have landed with Miss Ethel and her boys. But he never forgot Penny...
After Penny’s mother passed away, she was left alone with her stepdad. He wasn’t physically abusive, just resentful of being left to care for a child that wasn’t his. When Penny was involved in an accident, her stepdad decided he couldn’t make it work. Penny was released from the hospital into the foster care system. Moving from one abusive family to the next. As soon as she’s saved up enough money, she moves into something that’s finally her own. Never forgetting her best friend and wondering whatever happened to him.
This was, by far, the best and most emotional Maryann Jordan novel I’ve read! Asher was so drawn to Penelope, sitting on the park bench that he couldn’t pass her by. After realizing who she was, he didn’t want to risk losing his best friend all over again. I loved the meaning and thought behind Asher’s tattoos! Very powerful. This story was so hauntingly realistic. The foster system has flaws. Even though there are good people willing to care for and love children that are not their own, there are those that are just in it for the money. They may not physically abuse the children, but mental abuse is just as bad. Maybe worse. It was enlightening to see the very different sides to a loving foster homes vs non-loving. Very few children that are treated as Penny was, come out on top. I’m glad Penny and Asher found their HEA. I read a gifted copy and all opinions stated are my own.
A truly touching romance!
I love nothing better than a romance that hits me right in the heart. BULLSEYE! This is book 6 in the Heroes at Heart series and it features Asher and Penny. These two have a past that stems back to kindergarten and tragically ends in first grade. Their story is so very sad and had me in tears. 24 years later he’s jogging in the park and meets a woman sitting on a bench reading. They click right away. This woman’s childhood stories broke my heart. Her adult story still brings tears to my eyes. His childhood during foster care was such a blessing. I think Miss Ethel was sent from above. With her strangely accurate intuition, she just might have been. She is amazing and I truly hope there really are some Miss Ethel’s out there.
I can’t tell you much without giving it all away but just know if I could give it more than 5-Stars I would. The story line is brilliant! The characters are fabulous! I can’t wait for more.
Review This was a heartfelt twist on The Ugly Duckling. No one was ugly in this story except for the niece of Penny’s boss. Nice tribute to classic reads and Asher is an awesome alpha. Penny learns to accept herself and Asher is able to let go of guilt he was holding onto for years. Completely safe and inspiring story.