Sunset in Central Park
Grade : A-

I loved Sleepless in Manhattan, the first in Sarah Morgan’s From Manhattan with Love series. In that book, it was clear Frankie Cole was going to be matched up with Matt Walker, the brother of the heroine, and I have been eager to read their story in Sunset in Central Park. I fully expected to enjoy it, but what I didn’t anticipate was how Ms. Morgan would sell me on the depth of Matt and Frankie’s friendship. I also didn’t predict the many facets of Frankie’s personality; she’s so much more than the cynic about love I anticipated. I truly loved this book, enjoyed revisiting the three friends, and look forward to the final instalment.

First, a tiny warning: I’m not certain the opening of this book will be as meaningful if you haven’t read Sleepless. In the beginning of Sunset in Central Park, we’re thrown into a conversation between Frankie, Paige, and Eva, the three owners of Urban Genie, a personal concierge service. This conversation – occurring over headsets during a crisis at a bridal shower the women are running – reveals a lot about the three women. Paige, the heroine of the first book, is the organizer and takes charge, turning things aright when the bride-to-be is jilted. Eva, the soft-hearted romance-lover, is devastated. And Frankie? Well she’s our cynic, the one who doesn’t believe in love. The event gives Frankie the chance to let us know how skeptical she is about weddings. The entire opening scene is a wonderful reunion with three beloved friends.

When the trio gets home, instead of joining the other women for drinks on the rooftop garden of their brownstone, Frankie opts to be alone and read a horror novel (and I just love a heroine who reads!). She’s first interrupted by Matt’s nearly feral rescue cat, and then Matt comes knocking at her door.

The previous book didn’t reveal a lot about Frankie and Matt’s relationship, other than dropping hints that Matt had feelings for Frankie. But in her apartment we learn the two are very good friends. In this, and subsequent early interactions, their friendship comes to life. We see them talking about work, talking about books, sharing an impromptu meal, talking about the care and feeding of Matt’s cat. For Frankie, her friendship with Matt is one of the most important relationships in her life; it’s her secret she also thinks he’s sexy.

We quickly learn the depth of Matt’s feelings for Frankie. He’s been biding his time, waiting for the right time to make his move. But when he catches Frankie without her thick, ugly glasses, and realizes she  wears them as a shield, he decides it’s time to do something about their relationship.

Matt owns a successful company specializing in rooftop gardens. When his horticulturist quits in the middle of a big project, he asks Frankie to step in. Frankie’s love affair with plants began when she was young and the garden provided an escape from the turmoil of her parents’ lives. Yet while the opportunity to help Matt seems perfect, she initially says no. She can’t imagine being around him all day (exactly Matt’s plan). But her love of working with plants soon wins out; that and avoiding being involved with all the wedding-related events on Urban Genie’s schedule.

Matt is a wonderful hero: in fact, he’s nearly perfect. He’s smart, hardworking, an over-protective brother, a good friend and employer, and a romantically patient friend and lover to Frankie. And Frankie is so much more than I thought. Yes, she’s definitely cynical about love and marriage as a result of her childhood. After her father abandoned them, Frankie’s mother began a series of notorious affairs with essentially any man she could find. Since they lived on a small island, Frankie was tainted by her mother’s reputation, marked as easy prey by high school boys. At first I thought Frankie was just hard, but we soon learn she feels almost too much, cares almost too much about people. Her cynical attitude – like her fake glasses – is a protective shield.

Sunset in Central Park  works well as a standalone; however, if it sounds even remotely appealing, go back and read Sleepless in Manhattan first to learn about this trio of women and the men – well at least the two men so far – who love them. As for me, I absolutely can’t wait for Eva’s story – Miracle on 5th Avenue – due out on November 29 of this year!

Reviewed by LinnieGayl Kimmel

Grade: A-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : August 28, 2016

Publication Date: 08/2016

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LinnieGayl Kimmel

My first memory is sitting with my mother on a blanket in our backyard surrounded by books and she is reading one of them to me. My love of reading was encouraged by my parents and it continues to today. I’ve gone through a lot of different genres over the years, but I currently primarily read mysteries (historical mysteries are my favorites) and romances (focusing on contemporaries, categories, and steampunk). When I’m not reading or working, I love to travel, knit, and work on various community projects.
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