I love my regular visits to the fictional town of Porthkennack, not to mention the diversity of residents and family set-ups we encounter on each adventure. Having taken on a historical journey for her last outing, this time Joanna Chambers roots us very firmly in the present with a thoroughly modern blended family, whose background lies in the world of 1980s popular music.
Nathan Bridges returned to his hometown when the business run by his mother and stepfather – a musician turned ice cream maker – ran into financial difficulties due to overlooked tax bills. Having averted that crisis, he is faced with another: his half-sister has a rare genetic disease and now requires a liver transplant in order to survive beyond her teens. Since none of the adults in her local immediate family are suitable as live donors, all hopes are pinned on tracking down estranged members of her father’s – Nathan’s stepfather’s – more geographically-distant family.
In an effort to relieve some of his tension, Nathan agrees to go clubbing with a newly single friend and hooks up with a cute guy who claims to be merely passing through the area. That ought to be the end of things; however, the cute guy reappears in Nathan’s life as his stepbrother: the potential liver donor for their joint half-sister.
Mack, Dylan MacKenzie, lost touch with his father following a row over his sexuality at Mack’s mother’s funeral. A drifter, Mack has come to Porthkennack only to find out if he is a match for his half-sister, whose story has aroused his sympathy, and has no intention of staying. When the two turn out to be a match, Mack agrees to stay only so long as it takes him to recuperate from the operation, and he and Nathan agree not to get involved with each other again. Of course, that idea is doomed to fail…
Mack and Nathan find themselves living and working together: Mack’s savings won’t cover the cost of his B&B for the full length of his recovery and he has no intention of staying with his father’s new family. Meanwhile, the obvious way for him to pay Nathan back for the accommodation is to help out in the cafe, both waiting on the tables and providing music to draw in extra customers at quiet times for the business. The two try to keep their relationship along strictly business lines, but the attraction is stronger than either Nathan’s worry about what people might think of them, even though they grew up apart, or Mack’s conviction that he needs to move on again without creating new ties to Porthkennack.
Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed the time I got to spend in Porthkennack, as well as the new residents I was introduced to along the way. Nathan’s attempts to modernise the ice cream business and his stepfather’s resistance to anything that broke too much from tradition felt very real, as did the snippets we get of the story behind the band and song that made his stepfather famous for a short time. All in all, another great addition to the series.
Nathan Bridges hadn’t intended to settle down in his hometown of Porthkennack—he just ended up staying after saving the family business from ruin. The truth is, Nathan can’t stop himself from stepping in when problems arise. He’s a fixer, the man everyone turns to. But even fixers can’t solve everything.
When Nathan’s sister needs an organ transplant, it’s his stepbrother, Mack, who the family turns to as Rosie’s only potential living donor. Nathan’s curiosity about the stepbrother he’s never met turns to shock when he realises that Mack is his latest—and hottest ever—one-night stand.
Nathan and Mack agree to forget their single night together, but that’s easier said than done. When Mack moves in to Nathan’s place to recuperate after surgery, it’s not just the sexual tension between them that keeps growing. Against all the odds, and despite Mack’s wariness of intimacy, the two men grow close enough that Nathan begins to wonder what it would take to mend the rift that’s kept Mack and his father estranged for over a decade… and whether Mack might consider staying with Nathan in Porthkennack for good.
Read an excerpt.