Three Simple Words
Three Simple Words is the third story in the Kingston Ale House series, and is a fun look at the world of romance authors and bloggers, plus a sibling’s best friend trope romance (one of my favourites). The first in the series, The One That Got Away, is an okay read, but didn’t knock my socks off. The second, Six Month Rule, on the other hand, is one of my favorite reads of 2016. So I had high hopes for this one as well, and am pleased to say that it’s another winner.
Annie runs a small bookshop and has a romance book blog. Her younger brother Jeremy’s best friend Wes has landed himself in the spotlight with his story of Ethan, the man who loves ‘em and leaves ‘em in a story without a happy ending. ‘Not a romance!’ cries Annie on her blog, hating the story for getting all the publicity in the field where the happy ending should be sacred. Financially though, her store could use some help and having a book signing by the now famous Wes would definitely put it in the public eye. Wes is happy to help out his friend’s sister, a woman he had a crush on when he was younger. As adults, they meet as equals and to Annie’s chagrin, she finds herself attracted to Wes even as she despises his book. One favour leads to another, then leads to the bedroom where a heated affair begins. But is Wes just like the character in his book, ready to walk away without commitment? Or will he man up and admit that his feelings for Annie are deeper than he’s let on?
This is a fun and timely story that combines the current controversy facing the romance world over the ‘non-traditional romance’ with a sexy and lighthearted story that nonetheless contains some emotional scenes. We get the viewpoint of a successful author who has had a hit with his first novel but is struggling to come up with a second one. I particularly like that it’s a male author featured here, and the stress Wes is under to produce a second manuscript (with constant reminders from his agent to send in those first few chapters) I’m sure will resonate with most authors out there. Plus, Wes’s first book has been so well received that there is the possibility of a movie deal, but again it’s contingent on his second book doing as well as the first. Writer’s block is real and Wes’s struggles are both financial (having already spent the advance for his second book) and emotional. This is what leads him to stay with his friend Jeremy while he sorts things out, and brings him back into Annie’s life.
Annie’s blog is a delight, with the questions she poses to her readers resulting in multiple comments that will feel familiar to anyone who follows blogs on a regular basis. Wes’s fans clearly love Ethan’s character and the fact that Wes himself is an attractive man certainly doesn’t hurt. The signing Wes has in Annie’s bookshop brings in the sales she needs and opens the door to more ideas for future author signings, with Wes offering to use his contacts to secure some deals for her. But she’s torn about using his fame for her benefit when it’s come about because of a book she feels is a betrayal of the romance genre.
Wes’s reluctance to commit to women stems from his grief over his mother’s death, and he finds it easier to have one night stands than to contemplate a long term relationship that could end as his parents relationship ended. He turned those experiences into his bestselling story, blending fact with fiction. Annie quickly figures out that there is some truth to this fiction when they keep bumping into women who ended up as ‘chapters’ in Wes’s book in some humorous scenes. Their agreement to a friends-with-benefits arrangement definitely comes with some decent benefits, as the sexual encounters in Wes’s book turn out not to be exaggerations, to Annie’s ultimate delight. But it’s not long before she’s falling for him despite believing it’s not going to end up the way she wants, even as she doesn’t realize that Wes is also struggling with his deeper feelings for her. Annie becomes Wes’s muse, his writer’s block giving way to a flood of words, though his second story definitely takes a different shape than the first. The question is whether the book will be a commercial success if Ethan is no longer the playboy he once was. There is some small discussion at first about their age difference since Annie is a few years older than Wes but it isn’t dwelled upon. There’s also some of the requisite ‘don’t fool around with my sister’ conversations between Wes and Jeremy and as expected in most best friend sibling romance books this results in some conflict between them in the second half of the story. Annie’s desire to keep their affair hidden is bound to have consequences and they are fairly predictable bumps in the road to their happy ending.
Because this is the third book in the series, we get some cameo scenes featuring the other established couples, plus enough single characters (like Annie’s brother Jeremy) to give a hint as to what’s to come. The brewery’s purpose in this story is to serve as a meeting place for the gang so the beer making industry takes a back seat. The timely look at what happens behind the scenes in the romance industry is the real draw of Three Simple Words and the sexy romance between Wes and Annie is the icing on the cake.