I just finished the prequel (which I would highly recommend reading/listening to first so the reader is up to speed) where I met the main characters and the situation. It was cute, but also showed that there would be tough times for romance between the main players to win out so in I dove for the rest of the story.
This story takes place eight years after the prequel. Some things haven’t changed while others? Brooke has her friend rules clutched tightly before her keeping Luke at the distance she needs to keep him even though she refuses to discuss or analyze why. He has to stay in the friend camp or it will destroy everything- or so she thinks. Besides, Brooke has a fiancé and she loves him- loves him, she tells herself and everyone else who doubt this. Antonio is perfect since the computer has them matched at like 70%. And besides, Luke is a player just like her womanizing dad who is on his third marriage break up and more kids left hurt by a dad who cheats just like she. Yeah, he’s a player because every time she turns around Luke’s with a different woman- and she won’t listen to everyone- and I do mean everyone- telling her that Luke is her perfect match and he can’t make a relationship work because he is hung-up on her. She needs to grasp at the perfect match with Antonio and move with him to Italy even if the very idea of leaving Luke behind pierces her heart.
Luke’s latest public fiasco made the tabloids so that now his company board is threatening to remove him as head of the company and his competition has the edge. Luke doesn’t have time to remain in grief with his life spiraling out of control. Luke is forced to watch the woman he loves with another guy and then she comes to him for help to save Toujours, her matchmaking business, by letting her match him up. Having a celebrity in the dating pool for Toujours will revitalize the business and bring in more clients. Luke will do anything for Brooke so he agrees and at the same time he agrees to an all out effort to clean up his act and work hard for the company for himself, for his dad’s memory, and for Brooke. He will fight to keep her until that moment she walks down the aisle. If only he can break through her fears about love.
Alright, so this story went way past my expectation of how difficult it was going to be. I got vested in these characters and seeing them happy while reading the prequel. I didn’t want to see Brooke permanently broken by her dad’s infidelity and I wanted to see Luke get his dream gal. And by the time I finished listening to this story, I was exhausted and had a lot of thoughts pinging around in my mind.
This was one of those stories that felt out of balance for me. I wasn’t completely satisfied. We all have thoughts on what makes a good romance for us. With me, I enjoy seeing both characters grow as characters and I like seeing them grow together. I don’t mind conflicts and barriers and enjoy a hard-fought romance. But, I have to believe there is something worth fighting for and that both are vested in the romance. I didn’t feel like I got that with this story. I felt like Luke did all the romancing and the growing while Brooke was static. Now, as to their friendship, that was different. She was there for him and he was there for her, but my issue was seeing some evidence beyond friendship on her part.
The author did a good job of showing why Brooke struggled. My heart went out to Brooke because she was so handcuffed by her past. She has to make up rules and has to feel control. Love doesn’t stay neatly behind the boundaries she has set and it terrifies her into playing it safe with a lesser love that has no chance of being more. And because most of the book, Brooke is hung-up on her issues and pushed Luke away all the time, it would have gone a long way toward making me comfortable with their romance to see her get past her mistrust and make her own gesture of romance. But she doesn’t. Even when saying the words he wants to hear, she qualifies it. The story was all about Luke trying to prove that he wasn’t her dear old cheating dad and Luke didn’t deserve that. It might be more realistic that she would always have doubts, but it didn’t make for a satisfying romance.
The narrator, Tiffany Williams, continued to captivate me. I felt she was a good pairing for this book and she got the characters, the emotions, and the timing down pat. Look forward to more of her work.
So yeah, I wanted more balance in the romance. That said, I do love the world the author created and her writing style was engaging. The matchmaking element is fun and I love all that was going on with the Toujours dates. I am intrigued by the supporting characters and the potential stories there. I would recommend this one for those who enjoy sweet contemporary romance that like them emotional and hard-fought.
Romance Roundabout #39 CR
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