Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2
L.B. Dunbar’s The Heart Remembers is the perfect addendum to her Heart Collection series, a re-released series that showcases the Carter and Scott families. Through the course of this series, you meet Levi, the hero of The Heart Remembers, and Katie, Dunbar’s heroine. With a decided age difference, in the earlier books, you could not imagine their coupling. However, Dunbar deftly builds their chemistry in this story, so that you need Levi and Katie to find their happy ending.
Like all things L.B. Dunbar, this book is a sweet story that interrogates life choices. We know that Levi’s life has been difficult with many key people leaving his life. Even though Tricia, his ex-sister-in-law and the youngest Carter sibling, and Leon, her husband, do everything to help him through life, Levi’s heart has been broken by too many people. Add to that a tragedy during his time in the military and his new single dad status, and Levi’s complications are endless. Levi and Katie have been drawn together at various moments of their lives; however, her age and his status in the military keep them apart until the big family party for Tom’s (the oldest Carter sibling) 60th birthday party. There, Levi and Katie’s chemistry is undeniable, and they fall deeper into each other. Yet, Levi and Katie have complicated lives that seek to keep them apart. Will they find their happy ending?
What I love most about The Heart Remembers is Levi’s journey. This is a man who, even after the love and care of Tricia, has lived his life feeling unwanted and homeless. As he falls in love with Katie, Dunbar shows her readers the power of finding a home. She reminds us that “home” isn’t a place; it’s where you find peace and love. That is the beauty of this story.
Additionally, we revisit Katie’s past, and Dunbar grants us more information about Katie’s early muteness. I love the strength and intelligence that Dunbar has imbued in Katie’s character. Where she is weak, Dunbar strengthens Levi. And where Levi is weak, Dunbar crafts Katie to be a salve to Levi’s wounds. This makes it easy for the reader to forget that there is (I believe) a seven-year age difference between the two.
Along with their past traumas, Dunbar also points to veteran’s challenges, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and the challenges for the hearing impaired. Depth upon depth is found in Dunbar’s book. You also can’t help but love the intrusion of the Carters and Scotts, reminding us of the love we have for The Heart Collection.
The Heart Remembers is indeed a perfect representation of L.B. Dunbar’s ability to write thoughtful familial small-town romance. This book provides a wrap-up that satiates the appetite you might have for more of these families who make you fall in love with this small town in Michigan.
In love and romance,