This was my April TBR pile vote winner book which was originally chosen because I was trying to expand my horizons. I actually picked up this harmless, innocent book with trepidation. Paranoid, much? Yeah, I do when it comes to simple, sweet, stand on its own Contemporary Romance. For years, I always needed the romance to come with another element or genre blend to pick it up, but it has been a personal goal to expand my reading tastes to include the sweet, heartwarming types too. Suffice to say, that is exactly what this is: a sweet, heartwarming, ‘what you see is what you get’ romance- or rather pair of romances. Yep, bonus for me, there were two romances to enjoy.
The setting is a small town in Kentucky called the adorable name of Cricket Creek. The town made it through the recession and is now revitalizing in leaps and bounds including Gabby Goodwin’s cute flower shop in Wedding Row and Reese Marino’s Italian pizzeria in the restaurant quarter. As with the town, its residences are getting their second chance and revitalizing too it seems. Reese and Gabby along with Reese’s Uncle Tony and Tessa are feeling it in this installment.
I accidentally grabbed the sixth book in the series, but I had no trouble getting up to speed and enjoying the story though some of the previous characters do slide in and out of the scenes.
The story opens when Reese Marino moves back to his childhood town along with his uncle to open their pizza place and move closer to Reese’s mom and give them all a fresh start. Reese was once an angry, brooding teenager after his dad left him and his mom with no explanation, but he straightened out with Tony’s help. Tony went through a hard time when his wife cheated on him and left when the family business became a struggle. So all of them: Reese, Tony and Tessa are going into this new venture together.
Reese discovers that the girl he always had a thing for is also a new town business owner and he would love a shot at Gabby Goodwin, but unfortunately she is timid about his past and seems to want a stable guy like the mayor. It is frustrating, but he decides to keep trying with her. He’ll show her that he has staying power unlike his own father.
Gabby can’t believe how being around Reese stirs her up again like he did when they were kids. He looks as good as ever and he seems to have really changed, but dare she count on that? Her mother cautioned her about trusting bad boys or even reformed ones. No, Drew is the safer bet and the guy she should want. Only Drew doesn’t stir a thing inside her.
Trish is starting over after many years of marriage. She let her dreams go and remade herself all for a guy who cheated on her and replaced her with a younger model. Maggie tells her that it was on Steve and that Trish is beautiful and wonderful and so needs to get back in the game with a guy who will appreciate her. Meanwhile, she is starting over in Cricket Creek and picking up her dreams of writing again. It doesn’t hurt that her tenant in the next bungalow over is a hotter than sin Italian with an adorable dog. Tony has his own issues just as she has hers and it would probably be a really bad idea to start something up, but somehow her heart just isn’t listening to her head.
This story is one of those curl up in your seat and get cozy for some ooey-gooey sweet stuff. The setting is a cute little perfect town, adorable characters, and people with a few hang-ups, but no real barriers to romance and happiness. The pace is even and gentle. The four primary characters share the narration. I was glad for all their perspectives as it made for some lively change. This book really didn’t have any spikes other than one crisis near the end for Reese and his mom. It really does just meander along for the most part.
I enjoyed my bit of time immersed in the drowsy little world of Cricket Creek and meeting its characters. I really loved Reese and Tony and Trish with their stronger emotions and more colorful personalities. Tony and Trish were so hilarious the way sparks shot between them and they were constantly rubbing each other wrong or fighting off the irresistible attraction. Reese is still carrying around a lot of anger toward his dad and he really puts himself out there even after getting snubbed big not once, but twice by Gabby. He feels it, but thinks she’s worth it. Gabby was just meh for me. I didn’t take to her from the start. She’s just a little timid mouse and yeah…that’s it. Reese made all the grand gestures it seems and it was like she sat back and let him do it to test him or like it was expected that he should have to court her when really, what was so special about her and it wasn’t like Reese owed her? He courted her back in high school too with the same results- Gabby not believing he was sincere or real. Honestly, I really didn’t see the attraction he felt for her.
This brings me to the romance. Tony and Trish are fire, spice and fireworks and perfect second chance late Summerish-Autumn romance for these two middle-agers that learn they have a lot of living to do now that the exes are in the rear-view mirror.
Reese and Gabby is a more cautious gentle pressure while Gabby resists and denies giving a little at a time. I was glad that Reese was all that he should be. He waited patiently, he took her mistrust and he kept trying. Right when he thinks he has her, she jumps to conclusions not once, but twice. Sure she’s sweet- to everyone else, but I just couldn’t get into the romance when she always was poised to pull the cord on the relationship. He never did wrong by her and he knows what it’s like to have someone leave, but that doesn’t stop her from treating him like he was a bad sort. So yeah, that part was disappointing.
All in all, I liked the small town with its interesting characters, I liked the gentle storyline for a change up, one of the romances did it for me. I would recommend this for Contemporary Romance fans who want an uncomplicated, easy-going, slightly spicy story.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
Romance Roundabout #187 CR
Cliché Klatch #106 ‘Really Tore Him Up’
Mt. TBR #86
New to Me #93 author/series
Books N Tunes #34 Frank Sinatra ‘As Time Goes By’
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