I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. At first I hard cringed when I started reading and the premise was that one woman (Clem) had a meet-cute with a man who has now come back to her life in a surprising way. This leads Clem to faking a relationship with her best friend Ronan who has his own reasons for agreeing to go along with things. Clem's stepsister, Belle, doesn't know what is going on with Clem, but the two of them seem to be constantly battling each other with Belle refusing to let Clem get the upper hand. Since this is a Mansell book there are some other characters we follow too, Ronan's mother Josephine, a woman named Kate, and another woman named Marina.
I honestly loved Belle's story-line the most. It was beautifully done and I loved the ending that happened there. And I have to say, that I was glad that Belle confronted Clem about her behavior and things she said. I was hard cringing anytime these two characters had scenes together. Clem believed the worst in Belle and was nasty IMHO to Belle as much as Belle was rude and nasty to her. I do wonder how these two parents were not in this book and thought that was a bit odd that Clem's mother and Belle's stepfather were just absent through the majority of the book.
Ronan's story-line was my second favorite part of this book. I don't know how realistic it would really be in the end. But I smiled throughout it and loved it. Ronan was also very well developed which was a nice touch. I often find sometimes the men in contemporary romance novel's are not developed as much as the women.
Marina's story-line was really good and it gets slowly revealed. I am a bit sad though that she doesn't appear to get a HEA like the other characters.
Clem I kind of ho-hummed about. Besides her meet-cute I didn't find myself that engaged with the character. I also thought it was stupid she faked a relationship. I didn't get any sense of chemistry between her and the love interest at all. And I don't want to spoil it, but the love interest's story-line turned me off a bit. It didn't help that besides that he wasn't really in the story properly. We just hear about his past in a info dump, he appears a few times to make Clem uncomfortable and then love.
I loved the writing and did laugh a few times. When Clem and Ronan go off to show listings it seems as if every odd person in the world is trying to sell their places. The flow was really good between shifting narratives too. You know if you read a Mansell book there's going to be at least 6 people you are tracking, and Mansell does that very well.
The setting of St. Cary's sounds wonderful. The beach, the water, and the people sounded delightful. A good book to read during the winter months in Virginia.
The ending was a surprise (for one side character I had not thought that much of honestly) but we get to catch up with Belle, Clem, Ronan, and others. I was really happy seeing everyone's HEA.