Some of my favorite types of books are those I don’t fall in love with during Chapter One. Those books that might even start out a little bumpy, but over the course of the story the author weaves her magic, casts a spell, and has me falling in love hook, line and sinker. Beth Andrews’ second book for Harlequin SuperRomance is just such a story. I’ll be honest, I was more than a little concerned about the doormat heroine, but for readers who have the patience? A Not-So-Perfect Past hits all the right emotional notes.
Dillon Ward knows all about being an outcast. As an ex-con, convicted of murdering his stepfather, the people of Serenity Springs haven’t exactly thrown out the welcome mat. He’s doing construction work, renting an apartment above a bakery, and his baby sister is about to get married. Sure everybody in town thinks he’s the devil, but he’s doing just fine. That is, until the sexy and sweet bakery owner, Nina Carlson tells him she’s evicting him from the apartment.
Nina tells him she wants to expand the bakery to include a tea room, but he knows that’s bull. Lucky for Dillon fate steps in when an SUV literally crashes through the front end of the bakery. With every other construction outfit in town booked up, Nina has no choice but to turn to Dillon Ward for help, and that scares her out of her mind. With two kids to raise, an odious asshole for an ex-husband, and an over-protective family breathing down her neck, it’s probably not a smart idea to be hiring the town pariah to fix the bakery. But Nina figures it high-time she grows a spine, and why not jump into the deep end head first?
I’ll be brutally honest – I wanted to smack Nina on several occasions during the early portion of this book. Doormat, thy name is Nina. Her ex was abusive emotionally and physically – but instead of leaving him, he left her for another woman. Everyone walks all over her, she hates to make waves, never stands up for herself, and is so very tired. This story is all about Nina taking baby steps to becoming her own woman. About her taking control of her life, doing what she thinks is best, and damn everyone else to hell if they don’t like it. It’s not always smooth, but by the end of this story I was madly in love with her and cheering her on as she found her spine, stood her ground, and stopped letting everyone push her around.
With a heroine that I didn’t start out liking all that much, Dillon carried much of the early portion of the story for me. What a hunky guy this hero turns out to be! He spent time in prison for killing a man in self-defense, and that time changed him. The man he was is gone, and what is left is a guy scorned by just about everyone in town except for his sister, her soon-to-be-husband, and the local bar owner. That is until he starts working for Nina – and he finds himself falling in love with her and her two kids. But a relationship between them would be beyond complicated, and even if Nina does learn to stand on her own, he knows a future between them is impossible.
Like all great romantic stories, it’s the journey that makes the reader fall in love. It’s Nina’s and Dillon’s journey, along with the conflict surrounding them, that give A Not So Perfect Past it’s emotional punch. It plucks all the right heartstrings and there is nothing more than I want right now than to read the story again, for the very first time. If that’s not a keeper, I don’t know what is.
Nina Carlson knows all about Dillon Ward. Knows he served time in prison. Knows nobody put out the welcome mat when he moved to Serenity Springs. But that doesn’t stop her from renting him a place to live. And when someone crashes into her bakery, he’s just the man to fix the damage.
And Nina isn’t the only one who thinks Dillon’s the perfect man for the job: her two kids have taken a shine to him. Still, she can’t afford to get close to Dillon, even if he is tempting her to toss out her good-girl shoes. Because it’s not that she doesn’t trust him. It’s that she doesn’t trust herself.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: