Summer on the lake visiting with old friends while grilling and listening to the radio. Does that bring back fond memories for you? It does me. This is why I enjoy coming back each time for the latest book in the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series. Okay, so that’s not the only reason. I come back for those dream-worthy bad boys and the women who are perfect for them though it’s always a heartwrenching struggle for each pair to achieve their chance at happiness/
This is the third- and I think- final installment- in the series with Mac and Lily’s story. Mac was introduced in the first book as one of the Crystal Lake Bad Boys and he has been there all along. Lily acted the femme fatale part in the second book and now has her own story. Yep, this one must be read in order. The characters, story lines and background wind through each story. I love how there are still little ongoing storylines about the other characters so I can keep up with them. That being said, this story is very much all about Mac and Lily.
Each book centers around a holiday time and this one opens when Mac returns home for the Memorial Day weekend. He has a lot on his mind and decisions to make. All his life, he has had to hide the darkness that is his family shame even to a certain extent from his closest friends. As a kid and teen, his only respite from the abuse was to sneak out and sleep on the floor at the Edward boys or hang out with Cain Black, Jesse and Jake Edwards or go mindlessly from girl to girl. Now, even though he loves coming back and visiting friends, he is deciding whether he wants to wrap things up for good and never come back like the rest of his siblings who ran as fast and far as they could. His sadistic dad is still in county lock up for his last violent spree and he plans to take this time to fix things up around the old family home and take care of his mom. He feels ambivalent to her because he wants to love her, but can’t quite forgive her for passively allowing the abuse against herself and worse, against all her kids by doing nothing. Even now, she has no plans to get shut of her husband when he gets out.
Mac’s plans get all snarled up like fishing line when a few things happen. First, Jake wants him to go into a business partnership to put in a housing development on the other side of the lake that will revitalize the area and has everyone’s full approval. Then he bumps into his New Year’s Eve one night stand at the Edwards family Memorial Day BBQ and boy does Lily St. Claire make him have thoughts of doing what he’s never done before. He wants more of Lily even as she skittishly tries to run away and play like she’s uninterested.
Mackenzie set his beer down on the countertop and rolled his shoulders before glancing at her. “When I look into your eyes, I see New Year’s Eve. I see every moment of that night, and you remember every bit of it as much as I do.” Damn, there went her heart again, p. 78 Mac and Lily from The Day He Kissed Her
Mackenzie set his beer down on the countertop and rolled his shoulders before glancing at her. “When I look into your eyes, I see New Year’s Eve. I see every moment of that night, and you remember every bit of it as much as I do.”
Damn, there went her heart again, p. 78 Mac and Lily from The Day He Kissed Her
As for Lily, she was the perfect and calmly collected ice queen in Jake’s book, but now just one glimpse of Mac Draper and she books it out of the family party like Carl Lewis running for the gold. Her hormones go wild like a teenager and she doesn’t know what end is up. The loss of emotional control and sense freaks her out. Lily is always in control- has had to be as a defense in dealing with her wealthy and prominent family. She needs to avoid Mac at all costs, but now she is living in Crystal Lake which is a small town and her best friend is also one of Mac’s bestfriends. Avoidance is off the table. So she’ll just have to maintain the upper hand with this nameless thing he wants to get going. Neither of them do the relationship and romance stuff so this should be fine, right?
Hell, yes. Lily nodded and moved aside. “After you, Mac.” Now if she’d been thinking clearly, the grin on her face would have faded immediately, and she would have run away as far and fast as she could. Because Lily St. Claire was not in control. She was so far from control that she wouldn’t know what control was if it bit her in the ass. As it was, Lily pointed Mac toward the fridge and headed outside, toward the deck and the grill. She missed the wicked smile on his face and the way he eyed her up, as if she was the tasty bit of meat he’d be having for dinner. Lily St. Claire should have treaded lightly… Because from the looks of it, Mackenzie Draper was hungry. p.80 Lily and Mac from The Day He Kissed Her
Lily nodded and moved aside. “After you, Mac.”
Now if she’d been thinking clearly, the grin on her face would have faded immediately, and she would have run away as far and fast as she could. Because Lily St. Claire was not in control.
She was so far from control that she wouldn’t know what control was if it bit her in the ass.
As it was, Lily pointed Mac toward the fridge and headed outside, toward the deck and the grill. She missed the wicked smile on his face and the way he eyed her up, as if she was the tasty bit of meat he’d be having for dinner.
Lily St. Claire should have treaded lightly…
Because from the looks of it, Mackenzie Draper was hungry. p.80 Lily and Mac from The Day He Kissed Her
But then just when he gets things started with Lily, he is confronted by more family drama from a direction he wasn’t expecting. His sister Becca is back with her son Liam and man does the apple not fall far from the tree. Becca is battered and bruised and in serious denial about her husband just like her mother. Mac looks at the quiet, surly, scared and confused Liam and only sees himself at that age. All the old issues come barreling to the surface and Mac’s emotions are building up for an explosion. The past is there and it won’t stay pushed down where he hides it.
Mac and Lily both must come to terms with their pasts and with each other. The thing they have together grows bigger than they were expecting or know how to contain. Will Lily take a chance on something permanent that puts her heart on the line? Can Mac overcome his past and see that he is not his dad and he deserves a chance at happiness?
Just like the books before, the only easy thing about this story is the scenery. Slow pace, small town Crystal Lake with its characters and tradition are a huge draw to the book. The romantic plot line is very much character driven. The attraction is there from the get go and the heated encounters and sassy teasing (tormenting) dialogue, but the relationship stuff is a harder and slower process.
As to the characters, I’ll start with Lily. I didn’t really connect with Lily. She is alright and I didn’t hate her and I definitely was fine with her getting her chance at romance. I guess I didn’t get how her family hang-ups translated into not being interested in a relationship of her own. Yeah, sure, her parents and sister were messed up, but she has been surrounded by Cain and Maggie and Jake and Raine along with Jake’s parents- ample evidence that relationships work. So yeah, didn’t really see the barrier there. To give her credit, she was the first one to figure out that she wanted Mac and was willing to take him on his terms.
That leads to Mac. I knew going into this one that Mac had a warped opinion of things and I knew why. Not only did his dad verbally and physically abuse him and his family, but he did something even more crushing. He left poor Mac believing that this dark abusive bent was hereditary because the grandfather was that way too. Or, to be fair, the dad didn’t necessarily teach him this, but it was the lesson Mac took from it. Mac fights the darker tendencies, but he does have anger issues and is right on the edge of tumbling into alcoholism. Truthfully, he could have probably used counseling even though that was never on the table. He almost does that self-fulfilling prophesy thing because he is so messed up. Anger at his dad and mom, frustration with his mom and sister, drinking to forget, and accidentally hurting people when he lashes out in anger, then the fear and remorse that it all happened. Yeah, I felt pretty bad for him, but I wanted to boot him when he had to really consider helping his sister and nephew because he was so caught up in chasing tail. Now, I get it. Pursuing an affair with Lily or having to confront the family trouble he likes to hide from? No brainer on the preference, but he made it clear to both of them at first that his help was reluctant making them feel worse than their situation already did. He hit a real low toward the end of the book and said some pretty hateful things that left me near tears for poor Lily. And there it was…the heartbreaking scene I have come to expect from Ms. Stone. But fortunately, his friends ride in for the last minute rescue. I tell you, these books are not for those who like easy. Each of these bad boys really have a flaw that makes the title earned.
All in all, it was good and I liked it to a certain extent, but it doesn’t surpass the first book- Cain’s story as my favorite. Those who enjoy Contemporary Romance in a small town setting that is heavy on the drama and passion might want to try these.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review thoughts.