by Rebecca Brooks
Publication Date: July 20, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Standalone
Reeling from a sudden breakup, Casey Webb leaves Brooklyn, drives north, and settles in a sleepy mountain town in upstate New York. She’s convinced she’s happy being alone—until she reads the acknowledgments in her ex-boyfriend’s hit debut novel, thanking his new girlfriend “above all.”
Good thing Ben Mailer is in town. The hot, young Brooklyn-bound chef offers the perfect distraction. Soon the backwoods are heating up… But as their fling turns into more, the demands of Ben’s family and budding career make moving to her idyllic town impossible.
Now Casey must decide what she can’t live without—her life in the mountains, or the man she wants to be hers above all.
“You’re a little scary,” he whispered, turning to look into her eyes.
Casey knew he was trying to be serious, but she had to laugh. “Me? You’d pretty much only seen me in sweatpants and knew I had nothing but eggs and beer in the fridge. If I’m scary, it’s because I’m the loser monster that follows young kids around, providing ample fodder for their parents to issue warnings about what will happen if they don’t do their homework and wind up with too many cats.”
Ben smirked and shook his head. “Something tells me you always did your homework. And last time I checked, you don’t have any cats.”
“Only because I’m not responsible enough to take care of them. I can’t even keep a house plant alive.”
“Overrated skills,” he said. “And you should try a jade plant. You can neglect them to your heart’s content and they’ll live.”
“Tried it,” she countered. “I was expertly negligent and still it died.”
He pressed his lips together, trying not to laugh. “You are a special one.”
“See?” she said. “Not scary.”
“Only scary to a houseplant.”
“Which you are not.”
“But I’m serious.” Ben brought the conversation back around. “You are. You’re beautiful, smart, thoughtful, observant, kind, and an incredible artist—I mean really—and you withstand subzero temperatures—”
“The water’s not that cold,” she objected, but he shook his head.
“Don’t interrupt me when I’m complimenting you. It’s intimidating to be around someone who’s basically the whole package. And intimidating because, how do I even get her attention when she has no reason to glance my way? And then, oh my god, what do I do if she actually does?” He shook his head.
“You’re crazy,” Casey murmured, not sure what to make of this boy who clearly hadn’t been around enough women to know that Casey was anything but special, and far from scary.
“I guess I’ve never known anyone who felt this real,” he whispered so quietly, it was almost as if he hasn’t spoken.
There was a long pause. Casey had no idea how to respond. There was no way to explain how deeply she had longed for him to come back, and your dimples make my heart beat like a bongo set didn’t exactly have the right ring. It was crazy, when she thought about how little they actually knew each other.
But it was even crazier to pretend that after what they’d just shared, they could return to their lives pretending that nothing had changed.
“I think I really like you,” Ben finally said. Quietly, in that embarrassed tone he got that made her want to kiss him all over.
But instead she laughed. “You think?” She raised an eyebrow.
“I know,” he whispered in her ear, his breath shooting arrows down her spine. “I’ve had way too long to think about it, and I know.”
I absolutely adored the setting of this romance–summers in the Adirondacks make up some of my earliest memories, and Ms. Brooks captured the setting perfectly in this book. Casey and Ben are great characters, and so cute together. Plus, he cooks! And makes a perfect croissant. Paired with those abs, what more could you want? 😉
This is a re-issue of Ms. Brooks’ first published novel, and as such it has a bit of a different flavor than the later works of hers that I’ve read. The entire story is from Casey’s POV, and at times her insecurities do get to be a bit much. Ben makes some fairly predictable moves that sometimes lean toward the dickish side of the spectrum, and it would have been nice to know what was going on in his head at the time just to be reassured that the HEA was indeed on the horizon somewhere. (Their attraction is pretty insta-, but it takes more than a year for them to actually become a couple. There’s stretches of time we don’t see on the page, but still, it’s a good chunk of time from meet cute to HEA, and for a lot of that time they’re not together.) The ending is wonderful, though, and I really liked the choices that both Ben and Casey have made in their lives by that point.
Now I just need to grab the novella from the series () and take a week’s vacay up north (with an almond croissant or two, of course), and I’ll be good!
Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
ABOUT REBECCA BROOKS:
Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them. She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to a cold beer and her hot husband in the Bronx. Her books are about independent women who leave their old lives behind to try something new—and find the passion, excitement and purpose they didn’t know they’d been missing.