This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Indie/Self Published
Released on Semptember 15, 2020
Desperation and a heart for helping others leads a flower grower-florist into taking an ex con for her new help. I liked the sound of this set up and had been meaning to try this author’s books for a while. Light, sweet small town romance, a group of lively friends, and some adorable characters left me delighted.
If You Cherish Me is the third of the Sugar Maple series and read easily as a standalone or out of order.
Felicia Hughes has been familiar with swift to judge attitudes her whole life watching her dad get harassed by local business owners for the color of his skin and she shared this from bullies at school. So when her cousin flakes out on her once again during a big day setting up for the festival, she makes a gutsy move and hires the man most of the town wants gone. Declan Mills might be an ex-con, but she has observed him and knows he is trying hard to get his life back on track if someone will just give him a chance. Doing good by Declan changes everything for her as she feels the spark of attraction to the quiet, hardworking man even though he pushes her away because he thinks he’s not good enough and doesn’t want to cause more trouble for her. Her friends think she needs an intervention, but her grandmother perks up at Declan’s arrival on the flower farm and pushes her to go for it. If only her friends and family would side with her and Declan would give them a chance.
Declan Mills has to have a job soon or his probation officer will send him back inside. Two years was plenty to make him cherish the freedom and fresh air. He lost a great deal from the charges leveled on him and his mother hates him now, but he wants to earn back respect and move forward. Working for Felicia is a dream, but he struggles to keep his heart and his attraction tamped down. He knows that no one in the small town wants him working for their sweet Felicia and her cousin is filled with malice that he was given her job. He has to watch his step and not just to keep from getting set up to take a fall. If only things had been different so he could approach Felicia without his past.
If You Cherish Me is a light and swift read. It doesn’t dig deep, but still manages to present good characters, romance, and strong conflict in the plot. I keep thinking of it as light, but it covered some pretty serious topics nonetheless including abuse, prejudice, abandonment, and life as an ex-con. The romance has a lot of Declan blowing hot and cold and Felicia has her own moments. It was understandable though I did get a bit frustrated with them both. He tries to set boundaries, she blows through them and then acts like a wounded puppy when he reminds her and then he feels badly so bends his own boundary rules. What a pair!
Felicia’s grandmother was a hoot. She’d had a stroke and was in a funk until Declan came along. I loved the way she guided this struggling pair to get their act together. The five friends that included Felicia were an interesting quirky group. I couldn’t get a bead on a couple of them. Jackie didn’t sound like much of a friend to me, but she was around and stood by Felicia in the end with the others. The secondary story with her young cousin was sad in how an abusive man really manipulated her need to be loved so she gave Felicia and Declan so much grief.
The romance actually happens quickly over the course of a month or maybe even less. It was all sweetness with kisses and yearnings mostly. I liked that it focused on the pair figuring out the issues that were holding them back. They worked well together even with things holding them back.
All in all, it was engaging without digging too deep. Those who want a quick and easy small town contemporary romance with a moderate amount of conflict should give this one or one of the earlier books from the series a go.
I rec’d this book from Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.
New Release #175
About the Book
Ex-con Declan Mills bursts into town on an good-will errand believing he is reuniting a father and daughter, but the miss-lead adventure almost landed him back in jail. Something doomed to happen anyway since he has no job, no income, and no way to make restitution for his former crime.
Tranquil Maple Nursery owner, Felicia Hughes, spends her life tending to plants, her Nana after her stroke, her friends, and any stray she can find, but little time caring for herself. But when her plants don’t show for the filming of Bronx Revard’s new segment on Tranquil Maple she nearly breaks from the stress until Declan offers his camper to transport everything in time.
Desperate for help to keep up with the demands of business and caring for her Nana, she offers Declan a job that has to accept if he has any hope of making his first restitution payment to the courts in time. But when the town elders and Felicia’s friends want the man who brought trouble to Sugar Maple run out of town, can she show them, and Declan, that he’s not only a good man, he’s the right man-for her.
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