This one was the TBR Pile ‘To Be or Not To Be…Read’ Vote Winner. Thank you all or another stunningly good book. And for the kissing theme, I report that the kisses were delightful and sweet.
Staggeringly hard hitting on the emotions! This impressive first attempt at Contemporary Romance and at casting a story in the author’s own every day world went well beyond expectation. The heroine- oh this sad woman, who got none of the breaks in life many of us take for granted- yes, the author nailed it with her. All alone, her story would be dreary to read, but surround her with a precocious seven year old daughter with an imaginary unicorn friend, a beautiful man who sees through those high, cold stone walls she puts up and loves what he sees, and a few other loveable characters and it becomes heartwarming and poignant.
This is the first book in a new series and I love what I see here. There are three brothers who own a law firm as equal partners. They are loving family, but very different both in personality and their focus of law. This is Trent’s story. I look forward to seeing each brother find the special woman for them.
The story opens with Hannah Stark getting hired by the Knightley brothers to fill a temporary position in Trent Knightley’s family law division and then slated to move over to James Knightley’s corporate law. The brothers were all suitably impressed with her interview seeing her as coolly competent and a bit of an enigma since she gave very little away about herself or her private life. Trent is overwhelmed so he happily takes her and in so doing finds that the heart he thought was permanently crushed by his ex-wife still has some life in it yet. He is bewildered by this first attempt back into relationships and thinks he’s doing it all wrong because of Hannah’s responses to his gentle overtures. She hates his area of law and she has rather strong ‘keep away’ vibes. It is by slow and sure steps much in the way an abused wild horse is gentled that he makes any progress with her and pries a few of her secrets open. His heart is even more touched by this beautiful woman the more he learns, but will he ever truly get through and touch her heart in return?
Hannah Stark is hiding a lot behind the new persona she created when she left the foster system, changed her name and earned her degree and one of those secrets is Grace, her daughter. Hannah has been through many things and barely knows how to behave socially and casually, but her lovely daughter and now the contact with her new boss is helping. All her fears and need to protect Grace are still there, but for the first time she wants to reach out from behind her lonely walls and she wants Trent’s touch and his presence. Dare she hope for a kiss? Things are progressing well beyond her point of reference and she tentatively allows it until an unexpected vengeful man from the shadows turns her worst fear into reality.
This is one of those stories that requires patience to the pace, to the many law case-related scenes and to the heroine’s hang-ups. The story is almost entirely narrated by Hannah and Trent, but on a few occasions, side characters get some scene time. I didn’t find this distracting and it was helpful since the narrations didn’t overlap and cover the same ground.
Having Hannah as a primary narrator was part of the reason I could wait her out. If I just had to rely on exterior evidence, she wouldn’t have been a person I liked let alone would want to know better or cheer for in a romance. However, being privy to her thoughts allowed me to see a woman who just didn’t know how to interact with people. Trent was always nice and gentlemanly to her and at first she was very suspicious not knowing how to deal with kindness and thoughtfulness or someone who genuinely cared. And her attraction to him totally confounded her. I enjoyed watching her unfurl and open up letting Trent’s sunshine work on her. Now, all this didn’t happen easily or quickly. She had a lot to work through and I’m glad the author gave her personal and her romantic development time. It wouldn’t have been believable if she had.
Trent was a good choice of partner for Hannah. He is a gentle, loving, patient man. After years of working with a system that could eat the heart out and leave a person disillusioned, he still loved his job and worked hard to make a difference for his clients. This same big heart was what it took to win a woman as broken as Hannah. Trent has had his own past hard times when he made a mistake with the wrong woman, but he healed with the help of his brothers and by having the tender guardianship of his little girl. He was an adorable daddy and I loved it when he, Hannah and their girls were together even if it was briefly.
There is a lot going on in this book even beyond Trent and Hannah’s story. This book introduces the whole series and where it is headed since each brother is really given significant page time. There is another side story with two judge acquaintances and of course the villain’s story is told as it runs alongside Trent and Hannah’s story. There is also a significant amount of page time given over to lawyer-y stuff. Now I found it all interesting and fascinating, but most of all integral and relevant to Hannah’s story, but I can see where it might get tedious for others. Let’s just say, you can tell the author has a background in this world and for my part, I think she used this expertise well and keeps it balanced with the flow of the story instead of disrupting it.
All in all, this whetted my appetite for the rest of the series and left me warmed and pleased with what I had read. The romance is slow to burn, but gets spicy once these two finally shed the lawyer suits and let their hair down. For those who like a lot of heart in their romance and don’t mind things not getting there easily, you might want to give this Contemporary Romance a try.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.