Series: #1 Magnolia Bay
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Signet
Released on May 2, 2015
I was in the mood for a warm small town setting and a back to the hometown story when I saw this one by a new to me author and a new series. A bit of southern flavor, a coastal small town, some quirky characters, and a woman who can’t seem to live down her past made for a bit of fun and enjoyment.
The story opens with Helena ‘Hell on Wheels’ Wheeler return to the small Alabama sea side hamlet, of Magnolia Bay where she spent her rebel rousing years. Grannie needs her or she wouldn’t touch this town and its people with their long, judgmental memories with a ten foot pole. Unfortunately, she needs to get renovations done to make Grannie’s old home more user friendly for an old gal who broke her hip so she must hire one of Magnolia Bay’s first sons and mayor, Ryan Tanner to do the work. Ryan was good at everything, the rule follower, the popular guy and it appears that things still haven’t change. Helena braces herself every time she goes out for the stares, whispers and criticisms because of her past escapades. It isn’t all bad because she reconnects with an old friend, makes a new friend, and gets close enough to Ryan to know that she might have been a tad judgmental herself. But that being said, she doesn’t plan to stick around and anything she gets up to with Ryan has an expiration date on it because why in the world would she come back when she fought so hard to break away?
Ryan remembers Helena as the angry girl who ran with the rough crowd and just barely stayed out of jail with her mischief only to run off with a wrong guy and never return again. He never had anything against her personal, but now he sees from an adult standpoint just how wrong he had read things back then. He fights the attraction to her knowing she feels prickly toward anyone from the town and that she doesn’t plan to stick around. Dare he try to change her mind? Did he want to change her mind?
The story is an easy going one that makes for a good lazy afternoon read. The conflict is all centered around Helena getting past the ghosts of her past and maybe getting a second chance which wasn’t that compelling of a conflict for me. Ryan also narrates and his part is that of the good guy accepting the new Helena and helping her get a bit of her own back. There isn’t really any action and its very much about character development and romance which doesn’t really develop until late. The town and the secondary characters have their part. There is a nostalgic feel to things because everything and everybody in the present is tied to the past.
When I first started reading this one, I almost set it aside. i didn’t take to Helena. She was bitter and just as judgmental as she accused others. She has a bad girl reputation that she both relishes and deplores at the same time. She was an angry, punk teen and she took it out on anyone who crossed her and doing mischief around town. She’s self-absorbed and its all about Helena other than her need to make sure her Grannie is cared for before Helena jets out of there back to Atlanta. I should feel badly for her because her issues aren’t all of her own making, but I really just wanted her get over it. Ryan wisely nailed the issue when he said she was the one who was hung up on the past and was so oversensitive about what people thought of her.
Ryan and the setting helped keep me reading until Helena began growing. I liked watching the romance develop and her eyes to be open toward the new start in the present. Ryan was a sweetie. He is the perfect guy. He loves his family, his town and what he does. He accepts Helena and he’s not afraid to apologize when he’s wrong. He also called Helena on her crap. I was so proud of him when he refused to be just a booty call or her guilty little secret because she freaked out at the thought of the town discovering their reputable mayor sleeping with the pariah.
In the end, I liked the story, but didn’t love it. I felt it needed something more because I couldn’t take to the heroine. It was a sweet, but spicy romance in a small town setting that I would recommend to Contemporary Romance fans.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #206 CR
New to Me #106 author/series
Cliché Klatch #122 ‘Everything’s Where You Left It’
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