Desert Isle Keeper
My first thought as I closed this book was “Dammit, why isn’t there more!” which should go a long way to explaining why this second book from Ms. Martin is a DIK from me. As far as I’m concerned, here are the criteria for you to buy this immediately. Do you like contemporary romance? Do you either enjoy or tolerate American football in said romances? What about strong female friendships that, while formed through the dude, are not dependent on said dude? How about a child who is a fully realized human and not a trope machine? Finally, do you love second chance romances? Yes? Buy this now.
If you answered yes to any or all of the above, you can skip the rest of this review because you don’t need me to tell you this one is worth your time. The dialogue is sparkling, the characterizations are so grounded that this could be non-fiction, and I am kind of in love with most of the characters.
If you’re still looking for some convincing, here’s the skinny: Poppy Patterson is a single mom who, when we meet her, is making ends meet without the help of her child’s father. They were high school sweethearts and he abandoned her when she was pregnant, so Poppy did what women throughout time have done – she made it work. When we meet her, she’s working as a cocktail waitress at a joint that involves corsets and stilettos (that’s a pass from me, y’all, and gave her hero points in my book), and raising her son, Ace, largely by herself.
Turns out that Ace’s dad – TK Moore – is actually one of the prime stars of the local NFL team, but Poppy had never gone out of her way to contact him since she revealed her pregnancy. Now, this is where the oft-maligned “secret baby” trope could easily take over the story, but Ms. Martin deftly does not allow it to do so. We learn why TK wasn’t involved in Poppy or Ace’s life and it’s entirely plausible. When TK and Ace do meet, there’s not a lot of hand wringing over past decisions and both Poppy and TK choose to make the new relationship work.
Through that process, the readers get an inside peek into the behind-the-scenes life of NFL players and their partners, just as we did in Ms. Martin’s first book, Intercepted. Both are stand-alones, by the way, so don’t hesitate to just dive into this one, but both books are DIKs from me.
What I appreciated about this book – beyond the fact that I laughed out loud many times and feel like I know these folks like they’re my own – is that the confrontations were emotional but never angsty. TK and Poppy have a lot to work through and they do it through conversations, negotiations, and – let’s be honest – suuuuuper hot sex. They’re both honest with themselves and each other as they learn to be this new version of family they’ve found themselves in. The resolution to everything may come fast for some readers – it’s perhaps a tad rushed – but it didn’t bother me as it fit with TK’s personality as we had come to know it.
All in all, DIK from me for all the above reasons and more that I can’t reveal without spoiling specifics. We’re heading into summer reading season and this one will easily be one of my key recommendations for any and all vacation reads.