Kyle Coleman and Ella Fisher were high school sweethearts until one fateful night when their siblings caused their world to come crashing down. Kyle left Woodmont, IL ten years ago, broke and determined to make something of himself. Now living in Chicago, Kyle is a part owner of Premier Realty with his 3 best friends, and a successful multimillionaire.
After that fateful night, Ella dropped her dreams of college and took over running the family grocery store since her father was unable to. Now that the old building next door to the grocery story has finally gone up for sale, Ella has plans of buying that building and expanding the family store. Imagine Ella's surprise at the bidding sale when someone else also makes a bid on the building....none other than Kyle Coleman...the guy she still has never gotten over. She may have recently broken off an engagement to another guy, but her heart has always been with Kyle. Kyle knows he is crushing Ella's dreams, but he has plans of his own....he want to fulfill his mom's dream of owning a bakery and an event center.
In the beginning there was some fun sparring between these two. It was obvious that the chemistry between these two was still strong. When Ella tries to convince Kyle that he should sell her the building that is when the fun begins! Car trouble, stuck in Chicago, Kyle's place....etc....it didn't take long for these two to give in to their feelings. Afterwards, Ella lets Kyle know that their hookup has to be a one time thing because her father couldn't handle her being with a "Coleman boy" and she couldn't risk his health any more. Of course this doesn't last long and soon they are sneaking around like they did back in high school. Eventually problems arise and all hell breaks loose. It takes some long and hard soul searching for these two to finally make it back to their happy ending, but they finally do.
I just adore these characters. Kyle was just a perfect dream man...exactly what someone would want in a guy. Ella had a hard time standing up to her dad because she was always the "good" daughter and this caused her to really end up putting her life on pause. Once she stood up for herself you just wanted to tell her...way to go Ella! Overall this was a great, second chance story of two characters who never really gave up the thought of the other, even 10 years later.
Very impressive debut novel!
We are first introduced to Alex, 23 and a little naive, who has just defied his mother and dropped out of college, after which she has kicked him out to couch-surf with his friends from his band and cut off his cash-flow. Undeterred, Alex takes his box of things and his guitar and his last bit of cash to celebrate his freedom in the local bar. While there, a little drunk, he's almost mugged but saved by a hot hunk named Liam, and Alex has an epiphany while being pressed against Liam - yep, he's gay.
As his Liam. Alex wastes no time wallowing in angst, embraces what he's feeling, and goes home with Liam. Who's a perfect gentleman and doesn't take advantage of the slightly younger and much drunker man.
And that's basically the first couple of chapters. From there, the story takes off, and the author does a great job mixing the suspense with the budding romance between Alex and Liam. Except Liam isn't exactly who he says he is, but he's mostly honest with Alex about all the things he can be honest about.
The relationship between Alex and Liam develops quickly, and love is rather insta, but I didn't care, because the two characters just made me want them to succeed. And the drama/intrigue plot is action-packed and had me more often than not on the edge of my seat.
I suspended disbelief on occasion, but the unrealistic moments didn't bother me all that much. What felt real are the complex characters. Not only in Alex and Liam, but also the supporting cast. Alex's bandmates (one of whom will also get a book, I'm told), the crime-boss Liam works for, and his son were fully fleshed out and not just cardboard characters. The villain was perhaps slightly over the top, but that was to be expected.
Alex as a baby-gay was well done, and I suppose I chalked it off to his age and lack of romancing girls before that there was little angst for him when his body reacted to Liam's hot bod saving the day. He just accepted it, though I would think he had to have had some inklings before. Jumping feet first into exploring his sexuality, with Liam as a willing subject, burning up the sheets - oh yeah, that was fun to read.
Alex's best friend and bandmate Jake has a confession too, and there's a little bit of drama when they come out to each other, but Jake definitely has Alex's back, and is a bit suspicious of Liam at first.
I don't want to give away the plot itself, and don't want to spoil the experience for anyone, but I will say this: If you like romance mixed with suspense and action, and you like when two men just completely fall for each other and make it work against the odds, this book is for you.
I cannot wait for Keegan's story - that's coming next. Sign me up!!
** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **
I'm glad to say I enjoyed this even more than Eve Chase's first book, Black Rabbit Hall. While both books were beautifully written, I thought The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde was a more involving story. I also noticed that both books revolved around an old building which appears as an old wreck in the present day but a vibrant home in a previous era, and both include families of four children.
In current time, Applecoat Manor is purchased by Jessie and Will, who need to leave London to get away from negative influences in Will's teenage daughter's life. Will is recently married to Jessie after the death of his first wife, Mandy. Jessie had moved into Mandy's house and she is hoping the move into the countryside will also clear some of the memories of Mandy's presence. Her own child, Romy is still young and adores her step-sister, Bella, but Jessie isn't sure she can trust Bella to be alone with Romy. Circumstances necessitate that Will is in London for most of the week so Jessie has to juggle this new life alone, with a young child and a resentful step-daughter.
The house they buy had been the home of Sybil, Percy and their daughter, Audrey, until Audrey's disappearance in 1954. Sybil refuses to accept the possibility that Audrey might be dead and has kept her bedroom as it was when she last slept there.
Sybil's sister is an unconventional single mother to four vivacious daughters, Flora, Pam, Margot and Dot, and when the opportunity comes up for her to work a few months in Morocco, she asks if her girls can spend the summer at Applecoat Manor. The girls have not been back to the old house since Audrey's disappearance, although prior to that they had spent every summer there. Now, five years later, they return with trepidation. Their Aunt and Uncle welcome them but appear very different to the carefree parents they had once been.
What had happened to Audrey, and who is the young man being dragged across the grass in the dramatic opening pages of the book? What exactly went on during that long hot summer of 1954?
There is a wonderful collision between past and present, though I won't say any more about that.
As with Black Rabbit Hall, Eve Chase writes beautifully and with humour:
'At each corner of the pool stands a goddess statue, fragile, beautiful, broken, like survivors of some terrible natural disaster.' (Loc 625)
Romy: 'Where does the sky end and space begin?' 'If God is everywhere, is He in the bristles of my hairbrush?' (Loc 268)
I loved this book, wonderfully atmospheric, with totally convincing characters. The interactions between the four sisters were fascinating and the story held my attention. I did have a bit of a problem adjusting time frames but I'm sure that just reflects how involved I had become in the narrative.
Loved the cover too.
Black Rabbit Hall (3.5 stars)