Summer in Good Hope
This is the second in a series focused on four sisters and set in Door County, Wisconsin, a gorgeous tourist area on the shores of Green Bay. I’ve read a few too many contemporary romances set in small towns lately, but this one completely worked for me. I appreciate that the residents feel real, and are busy with their lives, rather than meddling in everyone else’s. The author brings the setting to life, with a true Wisconsin, Door County flavor (and no, she doesn’t resort to adding in a lot of beer drinking and cheeseheads). I liked both the hero and heroine; while they’ve each faced challenges in their lives, they’re not deeply tormented by their pasts. I hadn’t read the first in the series, but this works well as a standalone.
Primrose Bloom Delaney’s husband died two years earlier, leaving her to raise her young twin sons by herself. When she lost her job in Milwaukee she decided to move home to Good Hope. Her sister Ami – the heroine of Christmas in Good Hope – and her father both live in town. While at her sister’s wedding, Prim runs into Max Brody, her geeky high school math buddy and debate partner. Max isn’t so geeky now, in fact, he’s downright gorgeous. Prim quickly learns that Max is her next door neighbor.
Prim isn’t looking for a new relationship, in fact, she’s told her family she doesn’t plan to date until her six-year old twins are in high school. But then there’s neighbor Max, who helps her out with odd jobs, makes her laugh, makes her boys laugh, and who makes Prim feel things she hasn’t in a while. Soon, they’re working together in a local community organization.
The Cherries, a group of prominent residents, arranges an amazing array of events throughout the tourist season. When Max, a CPA, audits the group’s books he discovers financial problems. He knows Prim is a wiz with numbers and organization, and encourages the group to bring her in to help manage their finances. Despite objections from the head of the board – a thoroughly objectionable woman – Prim soon joins them, and as part of her role, she’s assigned to organize the town’s Fourth of July parade with Max.
It’s clear from the first that Max and Prim are a perfect match. It’s also apparent they had feelings for each other in high school, when Prim was dating her future husband. But as the two get involved more and more in each other’s everyday lives, they each hold back. Max is afraid Prim’s heart still belongs to her dead husband. In his last serious relationship the woman left him to go back to her ex-; he can’t risk that again. But Max doesn’t know the truth about Prim’s marriage.
Prim loved her husband but over time it became clear he wasn’t her soul mate. She knew he had cystic fibrosis when they married, but instead of taking care of himself he took ever increasing physical risks, leaving her and their young sons while he went off on adventures. Ultimately one of those cost him his life.
Overall this is an enjoyable read. The obstacles placed in Prim and Max’s relationship feel real, and I liked that both Max and Prim, as well as some secondary characters, showed growth.
The ending feels a bit heavy-handed with some rather obvious hints about who will be the heroes for Prim’s two remaining sisters in future books. But despite that, I liked the setting, am intrigued by Prim’s sisters, and will definitely pick up Be Mine in Good Hope when it’s released in February of 2017.