I adored the first book in this series and was eager to pick things up with the sister, Lia’s romance. The small sea side town setting and focus on the sea with the whale watching business was a huge plus. I got a shock when I started reading because I was anticipating something much like I got from the first book in tone, pacing, characters and romance. It didn’t take me long to realize and appreciate that the author changed things up- two very different sisters in personality so two very different stories. The continuity was in the setting and writing style.
And because of what I disclosed just before, this also means that this story can easily be read as a standalone or out of order.
The book opens with Lia McCabe in a tizzy because she muscled through plans for her friend unbeknownst to him (hey its for his own good) that are now threatening to fall apart around them both because of Drew’s motorcycle accident that will keep him from captaining his whale watching boat for all the tours she set up and in particular the ones with wealthy potential investors particularly one that will help her land a dream position at her marketing company. Lia is a control freak and a fixer so in spite of Drew’s emphatic order to stay away from his brother as an option for replacement captain, she races over to Evan Betancourt’s boat to cajole the moody man into helping his brother. It doesn’t take long before she realizes that Drew might have had his reasons especially when she sees the mess that is his brother. Desperate times and all. She needs Evan to help land her dream job- oh, and help out Drew.
Evan has been numbly going through the motions for the last two years and still miserable from the death of his wife and son. Now he has Miss Perky Cinderella bull-nosing her way into his life and not taking no for an answer. She also doesn’t seem to mind her own business and thrives on managing other people. And she calls him bossy? But he owes Drew so he will do this. Captaining Drew’s boat, putting up with the tourists, and working with Cinderella aren’t as bad as he thought, but Lia pushes him in ways that force him to feel, to remember and to think. It’s painful and she just keeps pushing him for more. He can see that she’s a workaholic and her focus is trained on running ragged to please a demanding boss and a spoiled rich boy all to land her dream post in Paris for her firm. Evan is attracted and so is she, but he has his past and she has a boyfriend and it is just not a good idea, right?
Alright, so what did I think about this one, well…I wasn’t nearly as impressed as I was with the first book. In fact, I almost shut it for good several times, but I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt since I really liked the first book.
I’ll start with the things I liked. I liked the setting of Sandy Cove and the backdrop of whale watching industry. Very cool! The author did her homework and made me feel right there for such a fun activity. I have been on many whale watching expeditions growing up in Northern California and we had a few regular whale celebrities named just like in this book. I thought the conflict between the brothers a painful, but interesting scenario. I liked the pressure of the rich guy and the pushy boss as the external conflict. The problem the heroine faced between choosing her tight controlled world and the adventure of the romance with Evan was full of sparkle and sizzle.
So, why the disappointment. Well, the heroine’s pushy and controlling personality was instant turn off. The author wrote her true to type and wrote her well with her flaws hanging out there obvious to the world, but I couldn’t stand her from page one and almost quit by the end of the first chapter the way she was manipulating a guy she called friend and shoving her way into his brother’s life all to save her own butt and a little of Drew’s. You can wrap it all up in pretty paper, but ultimately her behavior was selfish and oblivious to the core. Evan sees her as his heroine for plowing through his grief and guilt and making him open up. I never saw her as that big of a catalyst in his change and I never saw a woman that inspired a romance which is the pertinent issue since this is a romance. She was just so all over the place like a busy bee on speed and quick with her stinger particularly at her love interest that I felt the romance took a small backseat to her issues. It was near the end that her eyes were opened and I saw hope for her. After saying all that I have about the heroine, I will offer up the fact that I’m well aware this was a personal peeve and others may absolutely adore Lia and have no problem with her personality type.
I suppose shuffling all my impressions into one pile leaves me with an overall moderately engaging read. There was a lot of good blended with the drama and there was some spicy passion late in the book. Since most of my issue was with the heroine and I did have a good time with everything else, I am willing to pick up the next book in the series. I am going to recommend this book/series for those who lean more toward character-driven than action-driven plot, characters who have flaws that work out slowly as does the hard-fought for romance and particularly those who like the small town cute Contemporary Romance.
My thanks to Penguin Group for providing the book in exchange for an honest review.
I was put off by the aggressive, controlling nature of this heroine who is oblivious to others particular personal boundary lines which is usually why I don’t warm up to heroines that are reporters or journalists. Out of curiosity, do you as the reader have any particular heroine personality traits or heroine careers that put you off ?
Romance Roundabout #148 CR
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