This third installment of the series was an engaging story that just grabbed my heart for both the hero and the heroine, but particularly the heroine. Liam is the third Manley to get his story when he along with his two brothers loses a poker bet with his sister so that they must each give a month over to being put to work in her cleaning service as maids. Each story happens in the same time period and could operate as a standalone though there is a natural flow to the overall story arc in reading them in order.
Liam’s story is a seeming opposites attract plot, but I was pleased to note that it is loaded with a woman coming into her own story too. You won’t see me put it into a review often, but I really liked this heroine. She had some growing to do, but I respected her all along and was in her corner from the get go.
Liam is assigned by his sister to clean for spoiled socialite, Cassidy Davenport. He has already had his belly full of shallow jaded women who use people, but he lost the bet fair and square and he doesn’t have to like someone to clean up their home. His first day begins in a predictable way, but then it turns south when Cassidy does some really unexpected things that make him wonder if he really has her pegged or if there is more to her. He finds himself sympathizing and pitying her and most amazing of all, giving her a place to land when her play to break out of the mold her father has set for her makes her end up homeless and destitute. He doesn’t want to feel anything for this waif of a woman, but he does and his grudging admiration and attraction grow to something else the longer he’s exposed to her. Dare he believe that she’s not really like his ex-girlfriend and she’s safe to open his heart to?
Cassidy knows what Liam thinks of her and she doesn’t care until he, a total stranger, ends up being her only friend after her dad gets finished taking everything away because she won’t marry his handpicked choice or stop trying to get up on her own two feet. Liam may burn hot and cold when he takes her in and lets her work off room and board by cleaning for him, but the sweet part is that he truly listens and he sees her for who she is apart from her dad’s name. Liam gives her a chance to start over with her furniture art business and even grudgingly takes her advice about a home remodeling job he’s doing. The heated attraction and gratitude has always been there for her, but dare she take a risk on something more with a guy that seems as mistrustful as she does?
If there is one thing I learned while reading this book, it is to be ever so grateful for the parents I have. Liam lost his though he had his lovely gran to raise him and his siblings. Poor Cassidy! She totally got the rough row to hoe with hers. One deserted her when she was little and the other treats her like an object and not a person. Grrr, that father of hers made me have thoughts of all the ways I wanted to bring down a world of hurt on him. He was totally missing some essential components that make up decent human beings.
And Cassidy’s parents are one of the pivotal issues in the story. The other issue is Liam being burned badly by a past relationship. The two of them have no reason not to see where things go with their attraction other than these issues hold them back. Normally, I get impatient with these types of barriers to a romance, but the author told this story in just such a way that I engaged with both the characters quickly and was willing to ride things out. It never felt like things were stringing along unnecessarily. And the sexual tension was crackling from the first ‘how do’. I actually found it amusing how they both went around with a strong case of arousal to the point where they couldn’t even think straight or function.
I loved Cassidy’s ‘Can-do’ spirit that no matter how much her dad’s words and actions just crush her, she gets up and pushes on. She believes in herself and her artistic talents. I loved that she had the heart and capacity for loving and caring that allowed a brush with a terminally ill child to change her life around. Liam is cranky with her even while he is helping her, but she doesn’t let him get to her any more than her dad. I was so impressed how she handled stuff with Liam too. Oh, she had a lot to learn about how the other half lived, but she recognized that behind Liam’s prickly exterior was a good guy.
Now Liam, for all Cassidy’s issues with her dad and her uber-rich background, he had the most growing to do in the story. He opened his heart to a woman who played him, used him to get things, cheated on him, and laughed at him as she made her exit. He spends a long time locked in his past and unable to see the wonderful treasure that has been dropped into his lap. I itched to slap the back of his head when he got grabby with Cassidy. Common decency and pity motivate him at first, but then he slowly starts to thaw as he lets himself see the real Cassidy. Once he’s on board though, he had no trouble being the man Cassidy could depend on even in the face of her dad’s very real threats.
So, in the end, this installment was a fantastic read and I would recommend it to Contemporary Romance fans who like stories with a strong family component, slightly spicy romance and engaging characters. I can’t wait for the final Manley sibling story with Mac and Jared, Liam’s sister and best friend.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this story in exchange for my honest review.
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