Lately the only series romances I pick up are by authors who are known to me, and those are getting to be pretty few and far between. I gave up on new authors around the time when all the baby, cowboy, virgin books started to dominate the field. So I was actually looking forward to dipping my toe into the area again and met with a pretty mixed bag.
Funnily enough this one has a baby from the past. And it was the part of the plot that was strongest. Jack Thomas and Laura Kincaide were highschool sweethearts who broke up because he got another girl pregnant. He married that girl and is now raising their child as a divorced dad. They’ve been brought together again after almost twelve years to restore a Victorian house in their hometown of Laroche on Whidbey Island.
Once the two are working side by side it doesn’t take long for the old attraction to kick in. Their dialogue during these initial run-ins was funny. And I loved the small battle that ensues when Laura insists that Jack work, at all times, in a different part of the house then she is. It was geniunely funny when the tape is put up and she has to leave the room by climbing out the window.
Which brings up he major dichotomy that is this book. Jack’s having a child with another woman was a betrayal but believable given their circumstances. What’s a little more difficult to swallow is the fact that Laura has never recovered from the breakup. Early in the book she’s told she has intimacy problems and she “realizes” that it’s because of Jack. She was sixteen at the time! Now she’s twenty-eight and it’s almost impossible to believe that the loss of her high school love would be so traumatic that she can’t commit to anyone else. If she was that traumatized, shouldn’t she have had some therapy before now?
All this forced angst doesn’t fit with the funny, charming parts of the book. Yes, she should be angry with him for his actions when they were kids. But for it to have ruined her for any other man for life is just silly (and not in the good funny silly way like the interchange mentioned earlier). There was ample opportunity for their relationship to have challenges in the form of his single parenthood and any lingering feelings Laura has about that. Another missed opportunity for a real exploration of their relationship is Jack’s fear 44that she’ll up and return to her business in Seattle. He worries about it a lot, but never once asks her, so instead of being a realistic test it almost becomes a Big Misunderstanding.
Jack and Laura are otherwise extremely likable, as are most of the supporting characters. A special mention should be made of Jack’s ex-wife, Cory, who was so far off the usual romance stereotype of the other woman that I wanted to find the author and shake her hand. Her scenes were universally interesting and several times elicited a grin from me.
When Ms. Warren’s next book comes out I’ll be tempted to take a look because of her strong ability where humor and dialogue are concerned. What might make me wait until I see it in a UBS or at the library is the fear that the relationship testers will be as forced as these were.