Take My Breath Away
This latest offering and the first book in a new series by contemporary romance staple Christie Ridgway was a decent summertime read that will keep the reader turning the page. However there were a few problems with the story (the main one being a BIG SECRET) that prevented this from being a keeper for me.
Poppy Walker is a native of the resort town of Blue Arrow Lake. Tourism is what keeps this picturesque town alive as Blue Arrow Lake is a winter resort for the famous and wealthy. But Those who live in the town year round are not so well off. Poppy Walker is one who is trying to scrape out a living for herself and her five-year-old son Mason. Mason was the result of a brief affair between Poppy and a wealthy, winter tourist. Mason’s father wanted nothing to do with Poppy or his son, so Poppy is raising him alone. The Walker family has some property with a pristine view and a number of dilapidated cottages that she wants to refurbish and rent out to vacationers. Her siblings believe the property is cursed and refuse to assist her in her project. As she is tackling one of the cottages, a stranger drives up and wants to rent one for a month. As they are not in any condition to rent out, Poppy declines, but Ryan Harris aka Hamilton is determined to get the seclusion he desperately needs. So Ryan keeps offering Poppy more money to rent the cabin until the amount is too much for Poppy to resist.
Ryan Hamilton is famous and has been since he was a teen idol. The paparazzi follow him incessantly and he just wants to get away from everyone…especially in March. Each March seems to find Ryan in the midst of a disaster and the cause of those disasters are related to THE BIG SECRET. Because of whatever happened with the big secret, Ryan gets in trouble every March. This March, he plans to keep his head down and avoid the disaster the paparazzi have come to expect from him. The isolated cabins on Poppy Walker’s property seem like just the thing to keep him hidden and out of trouble. When he realizes that Poppy has no clue who he is, he knows he has come to the right place. He convinces Poppy to rent him one of her cabins and everything seems to be working out fine with his plans until…disaster strikes. A March snowstorm collapses the roof on his and Poppy’s cabins and they have no choice but to find shelter elsewhere. That shelter is Ryan’s mansion on Blue Arrow Lake. With the paparazzi staked out in the town, it is inevitable that Ryan will be discovered and Poppy caught up in his drama.
What was good about the book? Poppy is a great protagonist. She has been burned once by an “outlander” and doesn’t intend to be burned again. So the caution she shows in not wanting to get involved with Ryan is understandable and true to her experience. Even though she had been through a tough time, she was still an optimistic sort that was true to her name. Ms. Ridgway did a great job writing the character of Mason, Poppy’s son. Children are, in my opinion, very difficult to write authentically. Authors either tend to give them too many grown up characteristics or they are merely wallpaper in the background of the story. Ridgway writes a very credible and adorable child and he may have been my favorite character of the bunch. Ryan Harris/Hamilton is also a good character, although his mysterious angst begins to wear after a while. He is a good person just trying to get through life the best he can. All in all, you really want the hero and heroine to have their HEA.
What was not so good? The BIG SECRET. This was my biggest problem with the book. Ridgway took way too long to reveal what trauma caused Ryan to implode every March. I was ready to pull my hair out by the time the reasons for his March Madness was revealed. Also, the fact that he was such a large public figure and had been for years, along with the yearly implosions that kept him in the public eye, it was a little unbelievable that Poppy had never heard of him. A side story with the father of Mason, while interesting, did not really add all that much to the story. Ryan’s best friends were based on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and the comparison was not even thinly disguised. I personally found that a bit cheesy.
Criticisms aside, the book was well paced and plotted, the main characters likeable and realistic for the most part and I would recommend this book for those who enjoy a light, contemporary romance.