A captivating read about a woman trying to take control of her life and the man who is fighting to remain part of it. I’m a big fan of second chance romances and enjoyed the twist of these two already being married – albeit a marriage of convenience – and finding their way to each other’s hearts.
Both Johnny and Tessa are trying to escape the patterns of their past. Tessa has spent her life shying away from everything and when she finally decides to take control of things that also means letting go of everything from her past – including her husband, a man who married her to protect and care for her, but has never treated her like a real wife. Even though she has very deep and real feelings for Johnny, she knows she needs to let him go so they both can move on with their lives. What Tessa doesn’t know is that she has always been Johnny’s anchor, and when he finds she has set him free he is set adrift and he knows he’s not ready to give up on Tessa or their marriage so easily.
“There’s more to the new me than some highlights and a trim,” Tessa said, her voice gone throaty. “I’m not the meek, mouse weakling you married.”
Frowning, Johnny slid his hand down to cup her tense jaw. “I never thought of you that way.”
Her eyes darkened. She turned her head away from his hand. “You would never have said that, because you’re too kind. But I’m not an idiot, Johnny. You’ve always seen me as a child.”
“I see the woman you are now,” he rasped, already missing the silken texture of her skin under his fingertips. “And I like what I see.”
She swallowed audibly, her brow crinkling in confusion. “I don’t understand why you’re talking like this. Why are you making this so difficult? It wasn’t even a real marriage.”
The words were a body blow, knocking the wind out of Johnny. But he’d never been good at going down easy. “It was real to me.”
I really enjoyed watching Johnny take a step back and acknowledge that his take control personality is not what is needed to save his marriage. And even though he’s never acted on his very deep and real feelings for Tessa, he needs to now figure out how to show Tessa just what she means to him without steamrolling over her – a tough job for someone who is always used to being in total control of everything. I did like Tessa, but at times she could be a bit annoying to me – she is trying to keep control of her new found life, which I get, but sometimes I felt she was a bit quick in assuming someone was trying to take control and I do wish she was a bit more upfront to Johnny about her feelings and her fears. I did like the fact that she broke out and was able to create a new life for herself and created a home for herself on the island, and I loved watching her find her sexy side when it came to Johnny.
There were a few mysteries that were intertwined within Johnny and Tessa’s story, and I really enjoyed meeting Marcus and Quinn and look forward to learning more about them in the next book. The couple of twists at the end were only slightly predictable and didn’t disappoint at all.
All in all, I think I’ve decided that I need to find this island and take up residence! This was a cute and quirky small town “in your face” kind of place that allows for some great fun (small town gossip and characters just can’t be beat!) and also some heartwarming moments between friends who are more like family. This was my first book in the series and I don’t think I lost anything starting here although I would like to go back and read the previous books. Definitely a book worth checking out.
I received an advance reader copy from the publisher via NetGalley which I voluntarily reviewed.