I have to give Helen Scott Taylor credit for an unusual way in bringing the main characters in this book together. For a page or two, I questioned it, but then I reminded myself about the fantasy of romance, the main reason I read the genre, and everything clicked into place. The hero is perfectly happy with his “solution” to his current problem; it’s the heroine who needs a little more convincing, just as I did – of course, for very different reasons.
Jack Summers rebuilt his life with Greyfriar House Hotel, which he owns and operates. He’s currently in Barbados to marry his lawyer fiancee, Stephanie. Only he’s having huge second thoughts. Deciding to just be honest about their impending nuptials, Jack tells her he can’t go through with it, but Stephanie soon backs him into a corner – a hazard of her job – and he admits to having fallen in love with someone else – Melanie, the manager of his hotel – all of which isn’t anywhere near the truth. At least yet anyway. Now, of course, this is going to cause problems when he returns home, since he hasn’t looked at Melanie in this vein before and Stephanie will sniff out his falsehood faster than a real bloodhound.
However, Jack takes his time giving Melanie this piece of news, and after a little chat with Stephanie, Melanie is flabbergasted. She tries to tell the woman that nothing has ever happened between her and Jack, but Stephanie has her mind made up. After facing Jack to find out what the heck has happened to cause such a dilemma, they agree the thing to do now is damage control. But Jack is suddenly seeing Melanie in the new light he’s shed on her. She’s efficient, the guests and staff love her, she’s a terrific mother. He’d definitely like to get to know her better.
As much as Melanie would like to get to know Jack too, such a wish is impossible. She has her son to protect from a past that will eventually have people staring and gossiping and threatening, all of which will leave her with only one choice – to move on to a different town to start over. But Jack isn’t so easily deterred. He tries to convince Melanie at every turn how good it would be between them. And then there’s Melanie’s son, Ryan. He’s starving for a man in his life and Jack is his choice. Jack takes to Ryan too. Those are some of the best scenes in the book, and I sure wish Melanie could have really seen those much earlier. Lovely father and son interaction. She’s too focused on what may happen if her past is revealed, though.
And this is where my only problem with the book comes in. While I understand Melanie’s reluctance to have such an awful past known, to have her own parents not believe in her, to have her instinct to run kick in at the very first sign of idiocy by people who don’t know her, she’s not willing to truly give Jack a chance to prove to her that things could be so very different if she stays. I realize her trust was pounded into a million tiny pieces before, but Jack more than proves himself trustworthy. Melanie can’t see this for the longest time, and when the tough times come along again, just as she expects, she begins to run. Despite anything Jack says. Despite the pleas of her son, who loves Jack just as his mother does. I’d rather have another source of external conflict with Jack and Melanie working together to solve it than stringing out her refusal to compromise, to nip things in the bud, to face the problems head on. Especially because she says she loves the man.
I absolutely love Jack too. Considering this is a short story, he’s fleshed out rather well. You get to know him and what you find out is honorable and very likable. I kept telling Melanie if she doesn’t want him, send him on over to me. His family is also a big part of the story, especially his mother. She wants grandchildren, for heaven’s sake! Therefore, she’s working very hard to make sure her son is married as soon as possible, even after admitting her mistake with backing Stephanie as her daughter-in-law. All of that is another reason Melanie’s skewed sense of reality after so many years tends to rub me the wrong way at times. Jack comes from good stock, something she’s not used to.
Again, another heart-warming romance from Helen Scott Taylor. There’s fun in between the confusion and emotional pain to keep the characters front and center, just where they belong.
As manager of the charming Greyfriar House Hotel, Melanie Marshall loves her job and spending time with her young son. But she can never forget what she ran away from: her late husband’s crimes and her own terrible guilt. Though lonely, Melanie can’t afford to let another man into her life.
But when her boss, gorgeous hotel owner Jack Summers, returns from his supposed wedding without a ring or a wife, Melanie discovers there’s more to him than she ever thought. For one, the ex-soccer star is her son’s idol. But the closer she gets to Jack, the more she pulls away. She can’t share her past. Ever.
For too long, Jack’s protected his scarred heart by letting gold-digging women make him think love didn’t matter. But a sweet single mother and a soccer-crazy little boy change everything. He knows Melanie has secrets. Secrets she’ll have to share if he’s to help her realize she’s finally home.
Read an excerpt.