Leaving Shadow Creek nine years ago was the hardest thing Molly Mayberry’s ever had to do…except maybe returning. She’s never regretted her choice, but a chance of a lifetime position at the local hospital means going home and facing her past, including her shrew of an estranged mother and the fiancé she ran out on. Ben Matthews is still the sexy, sweet man she left behind…and apparently still her fiancé.
Ben has been doggedly pursuing the position of fire chief since he was a teenager. There’s just one problem—he has to show his boss he’s ready to settle down. No matter how silly the condition, Ben will make it happen. And apparently so will his brother when he opens his mouth and decides to tell everyone Ben and Molly are engaged. Now the one woman he never stopped loving is living with him in a fake relationship, driving him crazy. Pretending only reminds him how right they were once, but if Ben gives in to the heat building between them, heartache is sure to follow.
Oh, the feels! Victoria James's stories manage to pull me into that amazing reader space where everything that exists is the story and the characters, where there are laughter and tears, where the angst ties you into a knot yet the jubilee of life and love breaks all the shackles in your heart and mind.
This series has been an emotional roll-a-coaster for me from the start and finding this pearl on my backlogged TBR file made me stay up at night to read it through in one sitting.
There is so much to love about Molly Mayberry and Ben Matthews, and about their love story. Both Molly and Ben are driven professionals, dedicated, caring people, who feel deeply, who are protective, loyal, honest, and kind, willing to go the extra mile for their loved ones. Or walk away from their lives, if they believe that is the right thing to do.
I loved the honesty between Molly and Ben, yes, that might seem a contradictory term with all the secrets, but when they are now facing each other, they have this raw honesty about their feelings towards each other that they are unable, or even willing, to deny or hide. It went directly to my heart, oh, the agony, hurt, and pain, from the past and the in the present, it was so tangible and true.
My heart went out for Molly, everything she had to go through, for everything she had survived, and for everything she hid in her heart. She is such a strong, amazing woman, I admire her immensely.
Ben's forgiving, understanding character just blew me away. He is headstrong, yet so tender with Molly when needed. He can be a daredevil in his job, yet so patient and caring with Molly's heart.
It honestly broke my heart to read about the adversity Molly had gone through. To top of that, her mother's manipulation and controlling attitude, and I wanted to run to hug her, to protect her, and to stand up for her, not that she would have needed it, cause this lady was capable to stand up for herself, she had to learn that in the hard and painful way a decade ago.
All that ache and angst of life and love is beautifully balanced with witty dialogue and humor between the siblings and their friends. The supporting cast and grew, especially both Molly's and Ben's siblings, are a delightful addition to the tale, and I so hope they all get their own HEA as well.
Another balancing act for the relationship drama was the details of both Ben's firefighter job and Molly's work at the hospital and at the shelter as a doctor. Those details and events gave front row seats to the hero and heroine's lives, soul, and mind, to see what they were made of to having to be able to deal with things they did, on a daily basis, and still continue on.
The love scenes in the book happen behind the closed doors and in the reader's imagination. I didn't notice any major issues with language in the tale, yet I do feel compelled to mention that some might get trigged of issues surrounding detailed conversations about rape.
Not even family drama and past mistakes can stop the true soulmates finding their destinies, in this deliciously adorable love story that pulled all the emotions to the surface, and had me up till wee hours of the morning light.
I just love this series, the small town and its characters, and the easy, effortless flow of the author's writing.
~ Five Spoons
Victoria James is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Victoria always knew she wanted to be a writer and in grade five, she penned her first story, bound it (with staples and a cardboard cover) and did all the illustrations herself. Luckily, this book will never see the light of day again.
In high school she fell in love with historical romance and then contemporary romance. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, Victoria pursued a degree in Interior Design and then opened her own business. After her first child, Victoria knew it was time to fulfill her dream of writing romantic fiction.
Victoria is a hopeless romantic who is living her dream, penning happily-ever-after's for her characters in between managing kids and the family business. Writing on a laptop in the middle of the country in a rambling old Victorian house would be ideal, but she's quite content living in suburbia with her husband, their two young children, and very bad cat.
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