I’d heard good things about this, but it far exceeded my expectations – I absolutely loved it! It felt so original, focusing on the strength and determination of the single mom heroine and the issues with making assumptions. There’s a great neighbors to lovers romance, and seeing the subtle shifts in the dynamic was immensely satisfying. Our hero is a grumpy jerk who isn’t all that likable at the start, but he had totally and completely melted my heart by the end. Major swoons. It’s a torturous slow burn with some definite sizzle towards the end, and there was never a dull moment for me. Sure, it’s heavy on the single mom element and the story tackles difficult subjects like domestic violence, abuse, and sexual harassment, but that just made it feel richer and more unique. The build in intimacy was incredible, and it’s the kind of story that will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended.
The story follows Madison, a 25-year-old who got pregnant at 16. Her son is the best thing in her life, but he does make it more complicated. Madison works three jobs to provide for her son, and that means she has zero time in her life for anything else. So when she moves into a new place and her new neighbor assumes that she’s a lazy twenty-something with no ambition… well, it stings. Garrett (36) judged Madison before he got to know her, and as the two neighbors continue to run into one another, he soon realizes that he spoke too soon. The grumpy jerk seems to want to lighten Madison’s load, and the two slowly develop a friendship. Madison has experienced so much bad in her life that it’s a breath of fresh air to have someone truly get to know her, and that leads to some unexpected feelings.
Told exclusively from Madison’s point of view, we see her struggles and the toll it takes on her firsthand. This isn’t some uplifting romance where the heroine just so happens to be a single mom; the story is all about how becoming a mother has changed Madison’s life – for better and for worse. We get to know Garrett one step at a time, and I loved peeling back his layers to find the genuinely good man inside. Having him be mysterious for so much of the story added a little something extra, and I couldn’t help but turn the pages late into the night to see how it all played out. The tone isn’t overly heavy or angsty, but the complexities of the storyline certainly added plenty of depth. The relationship between Madison and Garrett is front and center, and I loved their connection. Even when they were feuding, I wanted them together – and I was SO ready when they finally crossed that line. It’s a compelling, one-of-a-kind romance that kept me hooked the whole way through, and one of my recent favorites.
Madison gave her heart to a boy at the age of sixteen, but all she got in return was a broken heart and a swollen belly.
Alone with a baby and desperate for the love she hadn’t found, she turned to a man who sealed his claim of devotion with a diamond ring.
He promised her a family. A life. A future. But his lies had only been a cover for the personal hell he introduced her to daily.
Now, at twenty-five, Madison has long since stopped believing in love. Balancing single parenthood, three jobs, and online courses, she doesn’t have the time anyway.
So when the broody neighbor living in the other side of her duplex leaves a rude note on her door, she’s not interested.
Not in his dark hair, not in his physique, and definitely not in the dimples she’s only seen a hint of. She’s one hundred percent, absolutely, not interested.
Not even a little.
**Author’s Note: This novel is for readers age 18+ and contains sensitive content that some readers might not wish to read. Please head to the author’s website for a more detailed content description.
About the Author:
Lilian T. James was born and raised in a small town of Kansas until she finished high school. Enrolling at a University on the east coast, she moved there with her son and obtained degrees in Criminal Justice, Social Work, Psychology, and Sociology. After graduating, she met her husband and moved to the west coast for a few years before they finally settled back in Kansas. She has three kids, one miniature dachshund, and has been an avid fantasy and romance reader her entire life. Lilian was finally able to publish her first novel, Untainted, in 2021 and has no plans of stopping.
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