Adult romance novels are not usually my cup of tea, but as my teen daughter and I are avid fans of The Bachelor (affectionately known as The Bach in our household) and The Bachelorette, I couldn’t resist this when I saw a review copy was available. It’s an engaging, if not particularly original story, that will please fans of Nicholas Sparks’s oeuvre as well as the built-in Bachelor Nation audience.
Leigh Merrill seems to have it all – she’s a highly sought after editor for a respected publishing house in New York, and she’s dating the handsome and rich Joseph Middlebury who is besotted with her. After ten years away from her home state of Texas, she returns for a writers’ conference, and opens up a whole can of worms when her past comes back to bite her. And her past includes Jake, a rugged, and occasionally shirtless, cowboy, just out of jail for a crime he, naturally, did not commit.
Of course Leigh is going to dump poor uptight Joseph for swoony Jake (even though few women in their right minds would actually do so), but Mr. Harrison does a decent job of making her decision process credible. He also does a fine job of creating the erotic chemistry between Leigh and Jake, though somewhat clunkily attempts to show Jake as an intellectual equal with Leigh by having him read Anna Karenina in jail.
Just when I thought I could see all the way to the sunset ending, in comes a whole new subplot. Mr Harrison is really good at writing skincrawlingly unpleasant characters – both Dale Tucker from Leigh’s youth and Russ Benoit from the present are genuinely nasty creations, who, in their own ways threaten both Leigh and her relationship with Jake.
So, yes, it is a familiar formula, but it slips down as easily as watching two hours of reality romance with a pitcher of margaritas and, speaking for the audience I’m familiar with, will be a pleasure, both guilty or otherwise for many teens.
Thanks to Dey Street Books and Edelweiss for the eARC