Please note that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
Well this was really good! I enjoyed the two main characters (Ellen and Unity) and their "list". I also felt frustrated with both of them while still rooting them on. I also really liked the epilogue we got in the end. I think Mallery typically does not include those in her romance novels. Both of the heroes (Thaddeus and Keith) were great though I wanted to shake Keith a lot especially when it concerned his daughter. I thought that all of the plot lines were realistic and I think that Mallery did a great job of capturing teenagers who (shocked gasp) actually do have sex. It was nice to see parents in this one talking about it as a known thing along with discussing safe sex and making sure that they are enjoying it and ready.
Ellen and Unity are long time best friends in their mid-30s. They love their sleepy little home town and are content with their lives. However, Ellen overhears her 17 year old son is scared to leave home for college since he thinks his mother needs him too much. Unity is still in love with her dead husband who passed away 3 years prior to the start of the novel. People have been patient with her, but now even her grief counseling group is telling her she needs to move on. (ASIDE FROM ME: Girl she needs to...badly). When the two friends have a falling out, they both separately realize that they need to move past things in their lives. They settle on having separate lists that they will accomplish over that summer with the winner getting an all expenses paid weekend spa trip with the loser.
So I actually really did like Ellen and Unity both. Even when I wanted to shake them both. Ellen had cold fish for parents, so after getting pregnant as a teenager she really didn't do much besides go to school and take care of her son. She hasn't had a romance since that time and is scared to lose her son. I did love that she realizes that and takes steps to make sure that he is moves on from her though.
Unity, woo boy. She got kicked out of a grief counseling group! Honestly at first I thought Mallery wanted us to dislike her since she was so obtuse about things. When she was rude about Ellen's problems, I didn't like her much. But she started to grow on me. She's stuck in her past and doesn't know how to move on from it. I know some romance readers don't like romances with widows or widowers, but I think Mallery did a great job with this character.
The heroes in this one have some..pizzazz? I think I can say that. Thaddeus's backstory was unexpected. Think Magic Mike. Keith was kind of stupid about things here and there, but in the end showed he was a very good dad. Though he was pretty invasive with his daughter's privacy.
The writing was really great and the dialogue was crisp. I loved the secondary characters like Dagmar, Cooper (Ellen's son) and Lissa (Keith's daughter). The flow worked nicely and I found myself rushing through this one.
The ending was pitch perfect and we get to see a Happily Ever After (HEA) for both characters. The only reason why I didn't give this 5 stars was that I did not quite the initial connection between Unity and her hero. It just didn't work, but then it did and I loved it. Other than that, things were fantastic.