Almost Like Being In Love
Almost Like Being In Love is the second book in a series revolving around three girls separated as children by the death of their parents. Whereas the first book (Just The Way You Are) centered on sweet, good girl Hope (the eldest daughter), this second in the series focuses on Pepper, the rebellious middle daughter of the family. As in many of Dodd’s books, this story is fast-paced with multiple storylines.
Pepper Prescott has issues, major issues. Not only is she a middle child, her parents died when she was only eight years old. When Hope promises Pepper that they will stay together, she is instead ripped from her big sister’s grasp and installed in multiple foster care homes. Pepper spends her life basically being a brat, hoping that by acting out and bringing attention to herself, Hope will be able to find her. Yet, despite her efforts, her sister never comes to her rescue, resulting in Pepper spending her childhood feeling abandoned. She finally ends up on a ranch in Idaho with old Mrs. Dreiss, a motherly and wise woman. The ranch, along with being the first real home Pepper has ever known, is also where Pepper falls for Dan Graham, a neighbor and fellow classmate. But as much as she cares about Dan, Pepper’s fear of rejection and her past hurts get the best of her. After only a few months, Pepper leaves her idealistic home, thinking never to return.
Even without a degree, the adult Pepper becomes a successful landscaper in the D.C. area, but, since she still has trust issues, she has no one to share her success. Pepper does, though, have one particular person she looks up to: Jennifer Napier, a very high ranking female Army general. But when Pepper learns that her heroine isn’t everything she believes her to be and when her own personal safety is in jeopardy, Pepper returns to the only place she can: The ranch in Idaho.
With the kindly Mrs. Dreiss no longer living, Pepper is surprised to find her old boyfriend Dan living on the ranch. It’s obvious to Dan that Pepper is keeping secrets and, even though he’s still greatly attracted to the woman who turned his teenage years upside down, he wonders if can he trust her. And, since unbeknownst to Pepper, Dan is waiting for his own enemy to appear, Dan is forced to protect Pepper from the man who is after him, while also protecting his heart from Pepper. Pepper has her own challenges: How will she protect her own heart from the only man she has ever loved when he is constantly at her side?
Many reviewers criticized Hope for being too good, and readers may be annoyed with Pepper, who, at times, is almost too bad and untrustworthy for an adult heroine. The evil characters are also a bit too distant and underdeveloped to be taken seriously. The on again/off again relationship between Dan and Pepper and their distrust in each other at times drags on too long. There are three main storylines: Dan and the man he is after, Pepper and the woman who is after her, and Hope and her constant search for her sister. In the end these storylines all come together a bit too perfectly. Yet, these problems were minor when compared to the overall book, which reads quickly, is action-packed, and passionate.
I have to admit I was rather leery of reading a contemporary by Dodd since she is, after all, mainly known for her historicals. Yet, after reading the first chapter, and even with the minor problems mentioned, I knew immediately that this was going to be an interesting read. In fact, Dodd does a brilliant job of transferring from the historical world to the modern era. Readers will enjoy catching up with Hope from the first book and many will appreciate the fact that Pepper is not the typical do-gooder heroine. The flashbacks that Dodd provides are well done and help to make clear Dan and Pepper’s past relationship, as well as Pepper’s current issues.
There is no doubt that with all the multiple storylines, Almost Like Being in Love is full of action and suspense that, for the most part, keeps the story flowing. Whether you believe that Dan and Pepper still have an enduring love after so many years and after such a brief period together in the past, there is no doubt of the passion that Dodd is able to convey in her scenes of intimacy. In the end, the book is so full of passion and suspense that it will keep readers eagerly turning the pages until the end.