Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Jove
Released on December 1, 2015
As we arrive at book five in the Hope series, we finally get the third McCormack brother’s story. I was intrigued by Reid all along because he was the brother that left Oklahoma to live and work in Boston as a well-respected architect and builder. The brothers were all affected when their mother walked away from the family, the ranch, and Oklahoma. But Reid had come back for a wedding in book four and promising to renovate one of the old, run-down buildings in Hope and catching the eye of one of the group of friends, Sam Reasor who runs the florist.
The slowly paced and gently plotted small town romance series has become one that I welcome each new release. I like this for a change of pace between my more exciting, action-packed, and dramatic reads. It’s cozy, heartwarming, and can still dial up the passion in the laid back setting of a small town in Oklahoma.
The books work best in order as there are the tanglings of a group of friends and family in Hope that are very present in each new story and new plot threads begin in one book and cross into the next. But I will say that I managed to read the series just fine by skipping one of the earlier books.
As I noted, this is Reid and Sam’s story. They are already known to each other, but they hesitate to do something about their attraction since Reid makes it abundantly clear that he doesn’t do relationships and he isn’t planning on sticking around. He’s going back to carry on with his successful architectural firm in Boston. He loves his family and he likes Hope, but he really doesn’t want to stay past getting the old Mercantile restored as new retail and office space to help revitalize the downtown area.
The project is one he loves and it allows him to spend time with his old friend, Deacon, along with his brothers and their wives, and other old friends. The part that makes him nervous is his attraction to Sam. But he encounters her everywhere and eventually decides to go with the attraction as long as they both know the score.
Sam loves living and working in Hope. She runs the florist shop that was her grandmother’s. Sam was raised by her grandparents after her parents died and her gram is the last of her family. Unfortunately, her gram is starting to get turned around and forgetting where and when she is at. Sam loves her independence, but for once, she is glad that Reid is around. He doesn’t plan on staying and he discourages any thought of deepening feelings, but he helps and listens. Sam doesn’t know what to do with the feelings that are growing for Reid and it will hurt when he goes back, but for now she will go with it.
Alright, this one is a relatively simple and uncomplicated story. Bland in fact. The conflict is Reid needing to be convinced to stay where he really wants to be and Sam accepting change in her life through her gram’s mind deteriorating. There are lots of fun things like the gathering together of friends and family, Reid’s stray dog that becomes known as Not My Dog, local events, and Reid and Sam’s attraction, but not much to really engage me with this romance.
[quote]He grabbed the dog’s leash and headed for the park.
“Nice dog, Reid.”
Reid nodded at Bobby Jameson, owner of the barber shop. “Thanks. It’s not my dog.”
“That’s what I keep hearing,” Bobby bent and scratched the dog’s ears. “How you doing today, fella?”
The dog totally ate up the attention especially when Megan came out of the bakery and stopped to pet the dog, too.
“Hey Reid, how’s Not My Dog doing today?”
Reid frowned. “Huh?”
Megan looked up at him. “Your dog. Not My Dog.”
“That’s not his name.”
“Really. Then what is it?”
“Everyone’s taken to calling him Not My Dog since that’s what you keep telling everyone.”
- 79 Reid, Bobby, and Megan from Make Me Stay[/quote]
The characters aren’t too deep nor are they mysterious either. Sam is a ‘what you see is what you get’ gal who likes to speak her mind. She clings to the need to care for her Grammy Claire because she feels she’ll be alone when Claire is gone.
I had to chuckle when she decided it was her business to prod Reid about something personal in his life when they were first getting to know each other and then she gets all starched up when he calls her on it and he wasn’t even more than mildly out of line the way he did it. Always a source of amusement to me when outspoken people don’t tend to enjoy having it turned back around on them. Haha!
And then there is Reid. Reid is fairly well-grounded and a nice guy. He is one of those rare contented people. He has accepted the thing with his mom and happy that he still had his dad and surrogate mother, Martha, the ranch housekeeper. He was set in returning to Boston and it was because of the successful business he built up from scratch.
[quote]”Life doesn’t come with guarantees, Sam. And family is what you make of it. I got lucky that I had Ben and Martha in my life. And they may not be blood family, but they’re like parents to me and always have been. I have Carter and Deacon and a lot of other friends I’ve made over a lifetime here in Hope.”… He swept his knuckles over her cheek. “Family isn’t just blood relatives, Sam. It’s the people who hold your heart, the people who know you better than you know yourself. You might think you’re alone, but you aren’t. You’re well-loved, Samantha Reasor, by a lot of people in this town. You will never be alone as long as you are loved”
p.234 Reid from Make Me Stay[/quote]
The romance is a slow-burn sort. First, they are both in denial, then cautious not to let it grow past friendship and temporary bed buddies, and then trouble just being honest with themselves and each other. Nothing that was more than mildly frustrating that a direct conversation would have solved. Again, had to chuckle that this was the moment Sam picked not to speak her mind when she had no trouble poking and prodding before. And Reid was hilarious the way he used Not My Dog as his sounding board and conscience. They were a nice couple and I was glad to see them get together.
The best part for me wasn’t the romance so much as the overall larger picture of friends and family going about their lives in this engaging small town. Each of the previous pairs gets good page time and some future pairs have ongoing minor plot threads. I love the meet ups at Bash’s bar, the barbecue at the ranch with Logan, Des, Martha, Bob, and the clan of dogs, the sightings of the rest of the gang here and there. The author makes one feel close to the people and the setting.
All in all, this was a mild story. I was moderately drawn in. The romance got hot, but again, was mildly engaging for me. It was just a nice feel-good romantic distraction. I would recommend the series to those who enjoy gently-paced small town contemporary romance.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.