The Last Woman He'd Ever Date
Liz Fielding has given me some of my best category romance reads of the last few years. This one isn’t a bad read, and large parts of it are quite enjoyable. But at the end of the book I felt as if something was missing. It’s just not one of my favorites by the author.
Cranbrook Park estate has been in the hands of one family for centuries. The most recent owner has frittered away his money and is forced to sell the property to the last man he wants on the land –the illegitimate son he refused to acknowledge. Hal North’s biological father thought of him as nothing more than a thief or poacher, and actually had him kicked off the property as a teenager. Hal vowed to get revenge on his father and on his father’s employee who banned him from the estate. The employee is now dead, but his daughter – Claire Thackeray – still lives on the estate.
Claire was brought up privileged, and wasn’t allowed to attend school or socialize with other girls her age in the town. Her parents intended for her to go off to university and become a success; they didn’t plan on her becoming an unwed mother. Claire works as a low-level journalist on the local paper, hardly the success her parents hoped for.
As he leaves his father, Hal runs smack into Claire and gets tangled up in her bicycle. The accident brings them into close physical contact for an extended period of time as they try to get untangled from the bike and each other. Claire assumes Hal is still the bad boy she had a crush on as a young girl. She never imagines that he’s now a millionaire, and the new owner of the estate. She’s still attracted to him physically, but wants nothing to do with a bad boy.
Claire and Hal are thrown into constant contact with each other when Claire’s editor gives her the assignment to find out more about the new owner of Cranbrook Park.
I never doubted Claire and Hal’s feelings for each other. The author does a wonderful job, with few words, creating a feel for the sexual tension that exists between the two, in a touch, a look.
Parts of this feel very uneven. The scene where Claire and Hal meet felt too long. In contrast, the ending felt rushed, and I wished that the last 20 pages or so had been stronger. Claire’s daughter was emphasized when she was needed to prove a point. At other times, when she was technically in a scene with Claire and Hal, they talked as if she wasn’t present. And after the big buildup with Hal’s father in the opening chapter, he never appears again.
If you want to try the author for the first time, check out AAR’s database. A number of real winners have been reviewed here in the last few years. Unfortunately, this just isn’t one of them. While I enjoyed many parts of this book, it ultimately left me feeling unsatisfied.