I read this one as part of the Red Hot Lovers Box Set. This was a new to me author and I was looking forward to the story after reading the blurb.
The story jumps right in with Hope coming late at night to her friend Mark and asking for his help and his discretion. She needs ready cash to get out of town no questions asked. Their friendship is something a bit more, but had to stop with friendship because Mark is married. He gladly turns over the funds Hope needs and watches her disappear into the night.
Brennan is stopped at a gas station with his annoying girlfriend when he encounters someone from his past. Hope is startled to see him and even fearful. He doesn’t know what to make of her quick request that he forget he saw her. But Brennan can’t forget even after he has a long overdue break up with the latest girlfriend. Hope was his childhood friend and he loved her- still does, but he pushed her away when his demons got too strong. He can’t give her what she needs. Now, though, once he sees the news, he will not let her go on the run by herself.
Hope took baby Michelle from the grandparents’ home at the wish of Michelle’s mother because the grandfather is an abuser and pedophile. The court ignored the mother’s pleas when she went to jail and as far as Hope is concerned the system let them down by refusing to investigate the claims before handing the baby over.
Now she is fearful and on the run with the last person she wants with her. She loves Brennan, but he has made it clear that he doesn’t want her love. He struggled with addiction and anger and the guilt over not being around when his mother died. She hasn’t seen Bren in three years and now she has a hard time believing that he has changed or that he will stick around and really help her. Bren not only wants to do that, but he also wants to finally connect with his estranged Rawley roots. Being on the run together may be the restart they both need.
Alright, this story had some engaging points, but it also left me wanting. I struggled to buy into it from page one. And speaking of page one, it dove right in with not a lot of set up and not in that exciting thriller way. More of the ‘I’m so confused’ way. The flashbacks that filled in the backstory of Hope and her connection to Mark and Brennan were clearly delineated, but they were distracting and made the story advance in stops and starts. Hope’s choices left me scratching my head because it was over the top stuff. I think it didn’t help that almost from the beginning I thought of more than one way she could have achieved the result she wanted- Michelle’s safety- without resorting to the antics that she did.
It wasn’t just the overall kidnapping plot that was troublesome. I also wasn’t comfortable with the heroines’ ‘friendship’ with the married guy, Mark. They are friends, they say I love you and mean it in a romantic way, but he’s married so they don’t act on it. She needs several thousands of dollars to go on the run and Mark says sure here you go. O-kay… She ended up being with Brennan and they worked through stuff, but that thing with Mark just seemed odd. Can’t figure out why it had to be there to be honest.
Now what did work for me and made this a worthwhile read was Brennan. Brennan is a really messed up guy. He was a partier and got into alcohol trouble from his youth onward. He has anger issues. His dad left them and it was just him and his mom with whom he had strained relationship. He was out living it up when she died and he can’t forgive himself for that. He drove Hope away because he was afraid of having something serious and didn’t love her as more than a friend at the time. But now, three years later, he wants to prove to her that he’s changed. He’s gotten cleaned up and he’s a stable person. He still doesn’t want a relationship and he plans only to be with her until she gets settled, but he wants to show he’s a better person. I enjoyed seeing his feelings change and how he started to see baby Michelle as his and even Hope. His girls. He started to dream of love and family and I rooted him on all the way.
I found the revelations about Brennan’s Rawley connections a distraction from the romance and the existing situation with being on the run with baby Michelle, but at the same time I loved the inclusion of the other Rawleys.
So this one was a bit of this and a bit of that. It was moderately good and I liked it for being a quick heartwarming story.
Additional note: This book is free in Kindle and Nook formats if you want to pick it up for a try.
Romance Roundabout #146 CR
New to Me #61 author/series
Mt. TBR #61
Blogger Shame #15
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