You know those short, surprisingly pleasant reads we get from time to time that are generally inoffensive at first glance but you can't really bring yourself to give it anything beyond a polite cheerio and carry on? (note: I don't say cheerio and carry on IRL. I don't own a monocle.)
This is one of those reads.
Alice Jaye is a single mom, struggling to make ends meet for her son by working two jobs: one is a mystery the other is still in the works as she is being interviewed for an administrative position at Foster's Garage's by, also single-dad Dean Foster at the beginning of the story. Living in small and (I suppose) rural Hintertown where everyone knows everyone and their businesses in between, it's no surprise that they knew each other as kids and so do their children from school. A childish scuffle between Dean's Rowan and Alice's Ben over Nina (Dean's daughter) and Alice's presence in the garage serve as the impetus for them to move away from lives that have been halted by death and desertion, towards a future that may involve each other.
I'm kind of sore that there wasn't much Parent Trap action that happened in this one as I was hoping (insert Lindsay Lohan joke here). The matchmaking task was relegated to Dean's friends and their wives (who I suppose has their own books in this series) who were fun on their own but somehow, their backstories and ties with Dean just pushed Alice further out of the limelight. For a romance novel, this felt a little skewed to the favor of the hero which isn't groundbreaking but did take me by surprise. Maybe because I was hoping the build up surrounding Alice's mysterious second job would lead to a reveal that would balance things out (it didn't. It was a big bowl of meh.)
I did like Dean as a hero. He's probably the sole reason I'm rounding this up to a 3 instead of a 2. His awkwardness and his lack of a brain-mouth filter around Alice was endearing. A little stereotypical for a single father, working as a mechanic but no less amusing. He committed a great deal of don'ts and faux pas in the Hunky Hero Handbook that was refreshing but at the same time confusing because nobody calls him out on his derp moves.
"You didn't kiss me back," Alice said, her voice altered almost beyond recognition.
"What? Why would I kiss you back?" His thoughts a fraction behind his words, he held up his hand in apology. "Not that you're not - but… What are you doing?"
"What am I doing? What did you say all that for if you're not -"
"I thought you were depressed!"
Clearly, Dean never saw the memo about holes and digging.
But he's a bit of a goof whose idea of seduction is a wet t-shirt strip show at lunch. So all is forgiven. That or he just really likesThe Notebook. In which case he's just weird.
I was bothered by Alice who sounds this side of irresponsible and immature. Leaving your son alone in your house while you work at night? Throwing an immediate jealous fit when you hears through the gossip grapevine that the boy you fancy was kissing another girl in a car? How old is this chick?
I did like the secondary couples Liv and Caleb (why does it always have to be a Liv and a Caleb?) and Ethan and Sammy's excerpt looks interesting enough for me to give this series another go, with hopes for a better heroine and greater character depth from both leads.
This was a pretty short read and if that's a good enough excuse for you for the lack of character depth, out-of-nowhere profession of love and abrupt resolution of conflicts in the face of all that face-melting love then you might enjoy this a little bit more than I did.
ARC provided by Penguin Books Australia - Destiny Romance thru Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.