In this heartfelt romance from the author of the All About Love series, two people who thought they’d given up on passion turn to each other for emotional support—and maybe something a little more physical.
Kennedy Walters has had a tough year. Now she’s come to the lakeside town of Lyra Valley to finally say goodbye to the memory of her first love. But while she’s staying at his sister’s B&B, Kennedy is shocked to find herself undeniably drawn to a handsome local heartthrob—especially since she isn’t sure if she’s ready to move on.
Aaron Sheppard returned to Lyra Valley because he was fed up with the big city and everything it didn’t have to offer—like the beautiful, down-to-earth girl staying at the B&B. Aaron’s enjoying a little flirtation until he realizes that she’s Kennedy Walters, the girl who was dating his best friend. But after a power outage strands them together, Aaron and Kennedy wind up sharing some intimate conversation. And over the course of a night that neither will ever forget, they learn just how compatible they could be—if only they knew how to let go and fall into each other’s arms.
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion. (and actually, I sort of alpha/beta read this story as well)
I was kind of worried about rereading this one, just because it does pack an emotional punch, and sometimes when I know that going in I’ll avoid it (I do this with movies and TV shows too — *cough*Season 3 of Rectify*cough*). But I hadn’t written a review after beta-reading this one (which I normally do), b/c I knew parts of the story were going to change and I wanted to read the final version before giving my final thoughts. I’ve also been in a really picky reading mood, so I didn’t want that to affect my reading either…but alas, with release day coming up (and being here today) I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer! Unfortunately I feel like my mood did affect my reading a tiny bit, so I’m trying to channel my earlier thoughts as well to compensate. Because I truly adored this story BOTH times I read it, and I want to do it justice.
So that sounds like I’m going to say something bad about this book, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ms. Mae is one of my favourite authors because she always manages to give me very *real* characters, and she has done it once again with Kennedy and Aaron. What I mean by real is that I feel like these are real human beings out in the world, that they are inherently flawed, but are the kinds of people I’d like to know. And in this story they BOTH go through a whole gamut of emotions, and some of the most difficult ones: grief, betrayal, and guilt. Ms. Mae didn’t just sluff off her responsibility while giving them the love story they deserve, she sucked out all my feels.
I could understand Kennedy’s grief so much. Even just imagining losing the love of my life to that hateful disease, I’m not sure how I’d ever pull myself out of that grief. I felt like the road that she traveled in this book was one that I could empathize with. Yeah, she’s under a very silly misapprehension for much of the book, but I can honestly see my brain making such weird assumptions when in the thick of that grief. Perhaps if you’ve never experienced grief, you might not understand how consuming it can be, but as someone who’s lost her father as a teen, I can wholeheartedly say that it can mess you up big time, and that everyone deals in different ways and at different speeds. And so I felt for what Kennedy was going through, and how much she struggled between what she thought in her head and what she felt in her heart.
When I first heard of the concept of this story from Ms. Mae, I hadn’t understood just how impactful *Aaron’s* story would be. I kind of thought the heartache would mostly be centered around Kennedy’s side. But oh no, we get so much more in this story. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be Aaron and living with his own guilt and remorse and never feeling like he had the chance to resolve it. I felt just as many feelings for him as I did for Kennedy. And I felt his grief over the loss of his best friend too. I thought it was kind of perfect that they were able to share that, it wasn’t something I had anticipated, but it was something that I loved about their dynamic.
And hoo boy, Aaron is MEGA book boyfriend. Quiet, unassuming, a bit more nerdy? DAMN. I want him. I do. I want him. And his dog, Charlie, too. And his glasses. GAH!
And their chemistry together really worked for me. Not just in the steam section (which OMG, from the laundry room to the boathouse to the bedroom, DAMN), but I really felt their connection as friends too. I felt the intimacy of their bond. It happened pretty fast, but it worked for me somehow. But I don’t mind insta-love sometimes, especially when people are older and know what they want.
There were a million favourite scenes in this book for me. From the tree party to the dirt biking to the lake party for making me smile and swoon. And then there’s the moment in the closet and on the dock for making me cry. I felt everything, from light to heavy. And it flowed seamlessly in the book, just as it did for Kennedy and Aaron. And the ending was sweet and perfectly satisfying. Which pretty much sums up how I feel. It may have taken me on a rollercoaster of emotions, but it left me feeling sweetly satisfied.
And that’s what I have to say about that.