Saving Charlie by Anne Conley


 Welcome to the final (for now) installment of the Stories of Serendipity, where real people live life and find love in small town, Texas.100,000 children are sexually trafficked every year in the US. In the 1990s, Charlie was one of those children. She’s spent her adult life getting past that, trying to become a successful business owner in Serendipity, TX. Relationships are not goals for her. In fact, she’s not even sure she has what it takes to be a part of one.

Les is a fool for love. All he’s ever wanted was a girl. Now that every last one of his friends are married, and in happy relationships with families, he can’t stop thinking about the sexy lady who sells house parts, even if everything about her screams at him to stay away. He just can’t.

When they are thrown together on a cross-country road trip, Charlie’s past comes back to her full-force, long-buried memories inundating her. Les seems to be the only thing grounding her to the present, when everything else seems to be trying to tear her apart.

While it has a HEA, the road getting there is long, rough, and dark. Enjoy the ride.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23521488-saving-charlie?ac=1
Don’t be alarmed when you realize this is the ninth book in the Serendipity series.  Each is a standalone based in the same small town of Serendipity Texas, but I would recommend you read each one, as they all hold their own special message to the reader.  Saving Charlie though, wow, rarely does a book leave me speechless due to the amount of raw emotions I am feeling once I finish.  The topic in this novel is human trafficking.  The characters are Charlie and Les.  The message the author is trying to convey…….priceless.
Charlie’s life was brutal.  Parents who used and sold her, The Man who once again used her and sold her, Adam who was supposed to be her savior ended up being hurt by her.  Life was just one sex scene after another for her as her soul slowly crumbled to dust.  Not knowing her own worth, she went through therapy and came out a stronger, more determined woman, yet still that scared and bruised little girl lives inside of her.  Nightmares and anxiety become her daily life. She builds her own business and keeps to herself so she never has to answer any questions about her past.
She also has a few side projects that she does, but I will let you read about those in the book.  Charlie knows she is not meant for a long term relationship, she messed things up with Adam and she believes she will do it again.  Because of that fear she tries to deny her feelings for Les hoping she will never have to tell him her truth.
Les fell for Charlie the first time he saw her.  Not knowing who she was or what her name really is, he started calling  her Sweetness when he would come to her business to purchase the items he needed for construction.  He is also a main player in rescuing the girls who have been kidnapped and sold in the trafficking business.  He learns about
Charlie throughout this book and his response is beautiful.  While he is use to giving his heart to women after the first date only to be denied and left broken, he realizes he can’t rush her and has to decide if she is worth the work and effort to tear down the walls she lives behind.  How is this going to work when each is denying their feelings in order to protect the other? Les came from a great family, parents he is still very close to.  How can he ever understand the choices that were made for Charlie and the ones she had to make herself?
I won’t go into more of the story here as it will mean more if you read it and let it unfold before you but I will say the author was brilliant in the way she gave you the story of Charlie and Les’ romance, intertwining the facts of human trafficking and the damage it does to the victim.  She gives us plenty of suspense in the story as well; I once again won’t risk spoilers to inform you.  I started this book before Thanksgiving and with the holidays and family demands I had to put it down till last night.  I will tell you though that Charlie and Les never left my mind over the holiday.  I was so invested in them earlier in the book, their playful banter, the internal thoughts and desires they were both afraid to share.  The insecurities the each had, this book became a well-rounded and powerful story.  I not only recommend Saving Charlie I say it is a MUST read.