This is one of those books that feels entirely too long at the start, just right in the middle, and not long enough by the end. I loved it! While I think the story might be too slow-paced at the beginning and there’s a LOT of focus on the small town feel, it’s those quieter moments that make this sparkle in the back half. Our hero is a growly jerk who pushes our heroine away with his words while holding her close with his actions, and their tense interactions slowly simmer into something sweeter. I loved the subtlety and the transformation of the broken hero – and broken heroine – and the growth in intimacy was so very satisfying. These two opposites attract in the best of ways, and their chemistry was both smokin’ hot and seriously swoony. Yes, it’s really long. Probably too long. But this was such a satisfying read.
The story follows Naomi (36), a runaway bride who finds herself in a small town she’s unfamiliar with while her life falls apart. Naomi is now single, jobless, broke, homeless, and the 11-year-old niece she just found out about is suddenly in her care. It’s a lot to handle all at once, even for someone who has spent most of her life cleaning up everyone else’s messes. As Naomi struggles to make ends meet, there’s one man who becomes her unlikely ally: Knox (43). Everything about the surly man’s words and attitude tell Naomi to stay far away, but the devastatingly sexy jerk keeps coming to her rescue. He wants nothing to do with a needy, high maintenance woman – or her adorable niece – but Knox can’t seem to help himself. And with every interaction, it becomes more difficult to stay away.
I will openly admit that I found the length of this book to be really frustrating at times. It took awhile for me to settle into the laidback, small town feel, and there’s a lot of time devoted to characters other than Naomi and Knox – which is not usually something that I’m looking for in a romance. After awhile, it became clear that all of those quieter moments were necessary, and those other characters will likely have stories of their own down the road. The pacing is also necessary to make Knox’s transformation feel authentic. He’s a major jerk in the first half, and a total teddy bear by the end. It’s his compelling character that makes the slow build worth it; I really wanted to find out what made him tick. Naomi was also an interesting character, and I loved the contrasts between the two. This definitely had more of a slow burn feel than other books I’ve read by Score, even once things started to heat up. It’s not page after page of steam, it’s more page after page of character and world-building. I still think the page count could’ve been trimmed down a bit, but now we have this beautiful foundation for future books in the series – I’m already looking forward to the two other love stories that are hinted at in this.
Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon.
Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride.
Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way…with fists and beer. Usually in that order.
Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.
There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life.
At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.
About the Author:
Lucy Score is a Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author. Small town contemporary rom-coms are her lady jam and she enjoys delivering the feels with a huge side of happily ever after.
Her books have been translated into several languages, making readers around the world snort laugh, swoon, and sob. Lucy lives in Pennsylvania with the devastatingly handsome Mr. Lucy and their horrible cat.
In her spare time she enjoys sleeping, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and reading all the romance novels in the universe.
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