This gentle yet sizzling small town romance series are like well worn comfort jeans or home-cooked goodness when I want something cozy and familiar. They aren’t full of dynamic characters or explosive scenes, but just people trying to find a bit of joy and love along with some fun with their friends and family in Hope, Oklahoma. This latest tackles two characters, Brady and Megan, who have been around for a while in the books. Megan is bubbly and sweet and Brady has been a quiet loner so I was eager to get to know them better.
This is book six in the series. The books all connect in the sense that the past couples and situations have ongoing storylines that carry over so I don’t think it makes a good standalone.
The story opens with Brady Conners determined to finish enough jobs doing auto body repair at Carter’s garage and taking side gigs doing custom painting for motorcycles to earn enough to go out on his own possibly in Hope, but more than likely somewhere new and fresh where the memories of his brother won’t haunt him. Brady was very close with his brother, Kurt, and it broke him a little when Kurt’s drug habit led to an overdose. Brady had left because he couldn’t handle watching Kurt spiral down and Brady feeling helpless that his brother wouldn’t take or get help. He and Curt were supposed to open a shop together. Now Brady must continue the dream on his own and he won’t get close to Carter, Molly and their friends because getting close and letting people in leads to pain.
Megan runs the town bakery and loves making sweet things for her friends and caring for people through food. She sees all her friends settling down with men who love them and with babies and wants that, too. Only the only guy to catch her eye is one determined to be a recluse. Her friends challenge her that if she wants Brady then she should go for him. So she does. The way to a man’s heart is through food, right? Megan doesn’t let Brady’s quiet deter her and brings him coffee and sweets, but it is the little abandoned puppy who latches on to Brady that gives Megan her best ally. Slowly, Megan gets something going with Brady knowing full well that he is not a permanent sort of guy and she can’t get attached. Only, the heart and the head are not in accord and she starts falling. Can she and her friends help Brady work through his grief to give the hometown and her a chance?
Alright, I enjoyed this pair together. Brady’s pain was hard and it hit close to home since we’ve had a similar death in our family. I understood why Brady struggled and his parents responded the way they did to Kurt’s death. The author wisely gave time so that the grief and guilt wasn’t swept aside so quickly that it was insulting.
Now that being said, this was a very slow-paced story, but not because of Brady’s grief. I both enjoyed and was bored by the large chunk of the story taken up with the events in the lives of the larger group of friends. Don’t get me wrong, I liked seeing where past characters were at, but yet I felt like it was a progression of one event after the next baby showers, book club, Friday get togethers for the whole gang that didn’t do much for this current story. I wanted to see more of Brady and Megan striking out on their own a little and maybe having a separate story line beyond the attraction and working past Brady’s grief. The charity motor cycle ride was the bright exception and I enjoyed it. I think this issue I had will depend on how much the reader wants more romance vs the more general story of the group of friends. I like both, but I guess I was in the mood for a little more isolated romance.
That wasn’t a monster issue and I still enjoyed this latest visit with the people of Hope and look forward to what is coming from a certain book store owner and the construction worker she left behind after high school. I can heartily recommend this series for those who want tender, cozy and gently paced Contemporary Romance.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
New to the Hope Series?
Image links to reviews on Delighted Reader.
Romance Roundabout #249 CR