Aaron – Hathaway House Book 1 by Dale Mayer

Welcome to Hathaway House,
a heartwarming military romance series
from USA TODAY best-selling author
Dale Mayer.
Here you’ll meet
a whole new group of friends,
along with a few favorite characters from
Heroes for Hire.
Instead of action, you’ll find emotion.
Instead of suspense, you’ll find healing.
Instead of romance, … oh, wait …
There is romance—of course!

Hathaway House Book 1
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer


Welcome to Hathaway House.
Rehab Center. Safe Haven.
Second chance at life and love.

Former Navy SEAL Aaron Hammond has no idea how he wound up at Hathaway House, Texas. Nor does he particularly care. All he can see is his anger. Anger at the betrayal that destroyed his physical body and at the loss of the future he wanted but that he’ll never have now. He’s a cripple, less than half a man, and all he can look forward to is a half life, alone with himself and his pain.

Dani Hathaway runs Hathaway House with her father, an ex-military man nicknamed the Major, and she knew Aaron and his brother SEAL Levi in another life. Levi was a good friend to her through her difficult teen years, but it was Aaron who caught her eye more than a decade ago. When she heard what happened to him, she moved heaven and earth to get him to Hathaway House, where she could help him regain his health and return him to the man he used to be.

Old feelings resurface as Dani continues to push Aaron to acknowledge that his life is not over, and that, if he chooses, he can find both love and a future at Hathaway House.

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This book became a favorite from the very first chapter. It contains all of my favorite things. We have animals, and not just any animals, rescued ones as well as family owned. Then we have Aaron, an injured Navy SEAL one who would not be returning to duty. The administrator of Hathaway House, Dani, knows Aaron, on a personal level from a very long time ago, so that gives us the possibility of a second chance at love.

Now Aaron is angry, not only because his career is done, but because of the way it ended. No one believed him and he has been blamed for the ‘accident’ that caused his injuries, injury to two others the death of two of his team, and other person there considered MIA. All this anger and the depression has stalled his healing. He needs to find peace of some sort to move forward.

Dani has to keep some secrets from him, the most important who is funding his stay. The focus has to be on getting Aaron’s emotional and physical injuries back on the healing path.

The path here isn’t much different than other places with the exception of the animals. There’s medical treatments, physical therapy and of course the therapist. For Aaron a big thing would be the animals.

This is a favorite scene.

Once they reached the common room, she could see still a good dozen people sitting with Helga. Dani stood beside Aaron in his wheelchair and said, “Helga, somebody else is here to see you.” The Newfoundland lolled on her back, twisting to look at her. She gave a small snuffling bark, seeming to say, “Good. You come here then.”

Dani laughed. She’d seen the same behavior in animals and humans alike. They could do whatever the hell they wanted to when nobody was looking, but the minute somebody was there, it was all about getting more attention. She crouched down and clapped her hands lightly. “Come on, Helga. Not everybody has to come to you. You need to get up and work that leg a little bit.”

Helga woofed quietly, her big bushy tail wagging in a full sweep across the floor. But Dani refused to move. Instead she sat cross-legged on the cement floor and called Helga again. Then, in a surprise move, Aaron snapped his fingers beside her and said, “Helga, come.”

Helga looked over at him and gave a deep woof. She got slowly to her feet. She was quite able to walk, but now, without the prosthetic leg on, her gait was rather awkward as she made her way to him.

“Nice touch,” Dani murmured to Aaron. “Why did you think that would work?”

“Big dogs are usually well-trained. They have to be, otherwise they’d hurt somebody,” he said. “But often, when the animal gets injured like that …” He shrugged. “They get lazy.”

Exactly the same for people, Dani thought to herself. But, by then, Helga had already laid her great big head in Aaron’s lap, accepting his strokes of attention.

Dani let the two of them enjoy meeting each other, and before long, it was a full-blown cuddle session. Helga crawled into the wheelchair alongside Aaron. He laughed as Helga’s big head snuggled up against his face. In another move that half-surprised Dani— she’d seen so many miracles between animals and humans before— she watched as Aaron wrapped his arms around Helga’s great big chest and hugged her tight.

Helga didn’t mind in the least. She didn’t make any move to get away, and indeed, she looked like she was just cuddling closer. She was a big weight to support though. Dani gave them a few minutes, and then she worried it would be too much for Aaron, and he wouldn’t know when to stop. She stood and went to grab Helga’s collar to pull her back, but Aaron said, “Don’t.”

At the choked emotion in Aaron’s voice, she let her hand drop. If he needed a few minutes longer, then she would give him a few minutes longer. She let her gaze drift to the others in the room, but nobody was interested in what was happening with Helga. In fact, several card games were going on at the far side of the room. She laughed. So this was where her father was. Judging by the stack of busted toothpicks used as betting chips in front of him, he was taking his friends to the cleaners again. “Hey, Dad, how you doing?”

He glanced over at her and smiled. “Doing well. King of the toothpicks.”

Her grin widened as the others grumbled. She wasn’t sure if they were having a friendly game or if somebody was cheating, but with the particular men involved, she wouldn’t be at all surprised either way. At one point, they’d deliberately played games where they would cheat to see how far they could go before the others noticed. All in good fun.

She dropped her gaze to the big man and the big dog next to her. Amazing how Helga wasn’t even moving. She was tucked right up against Aaron’s chest, all settled in. Dani stroked her silky ears. Finally Aaron straightened and released his hold on the large animal. Helga slipped back slightly, at least enough so she could wash his face with a great big lick. With a chuckle, Dani walked over to the sink and grabbed some paper towels. She dampened them and brought them back for him. “Here. This will help clean up some of that slobber.”

“It doesn’t matter. She’s a beautiful dog.”

In fact, she was more than a beautiful dog. She’d make an awesome therapy dog. But Dani’d have to think that concept over. A dog like Helga required a lot of space. Here she would certainly have room for Helga, but Dani couldn’t keep taking on every injured animal out there. There were months when she couldn’t cover the bills as it were. Still, it was something to consider if Helga had the same effect on patients as she just had on Aaron. With a gentle woof, Helga got down and then sprawled to the floor, stretching out at their feet.

“Do you want to stay down here for a bit longer, or do you want to go back upstairs?” she asked Aaron.

He turned the wheelchair around with a last look at Helga and said, “Let’s go back upstairs.”

As he maneuvered to the doors leading to the elevator, she said, “You’re welcome to return and visit anytime. Just be aware that, on certain days, the place can be frenzied, depending on what surgeries are scheduled.”

“I’d like to come back down.”

“Have you worked with animals before?”

“I wanted to be a veterinarian, before I went into the military.”

“Oh, wow.” She felt a jolt at that news but couldn’t exactly say why. Levi hadn’t mentioned it. Then again he might not know. “I think the animals missed out on something then, during all the years you were in the military.”

He shrugged. “Only so many things one person can do with his life.”

“Only so many things one person can do with his life at one time,” she corrected. “You have a whole new future ahead of you. You get to choose what to do now.”

She hadn’t meant the last line to come out sounding a bit too blunt, but running a place like this made it hard for her to not interfere.

Still her words had an effect, and he was silent all the way back to his room.
Dale Mayer. Aaron (Kindle Locations 418-463). Valley Publishing Ltd.

When Aaron inadvertently mentions the events of the day he was injured, Dani knows the only one who can help is Levi but she can’t actually tell him. I loved that Levi called at that moment of indecision for her. Yes you read this right, apparently Levi is Aaron’s brother, and who better to investigate and clear Aaron’s reputation.

I teared up when Levi shows up with Ice and Slade. He wants clarification of some rumors he’s heard. This also keeps Dani in the clear for sort of telling Levi.

I loved every single page of this book as Aaron works toward healing, and the long ago crush takes on new life, as he and Dani get to know each other as adults. The animals stole my heart, dogs, cats, horses they are all in here too.

So much emotion, with laughter, tears and lots of family and romantic love.

I really can’t wait for the next book in this series!

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

Coming Soon!
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Dale Mayer

Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).

She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!

To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.

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