Published: December 6, 2016
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
You might enjoy this book if you like: Second chance romances, small town romances, big Italian family dynamics
When it comes to her heart, Arabella D’Angelo has moved on—even though she still lives in Mirror Lake, Connecticut, a little tourist town with a long memory for mistakes. Ever the dutiful daughter of a cantankerous widower who holds grudges, Bella has spent the past twelve years raising her younger brother and making a name for herself as a successful psychologist. Now, when she isn’t counseling a lonely-hearts club for senior women, she’s humoring her matchmaking girlfriends. Bella resists the romancing of their blind dates, yet her friends hope she’ll fall for a local and scrap plans for a fresh start in Chicago.
Then, just before Bella’s thirtieth birthday, her first love, Roman Spikonos, returns to Mirror Lake. When he moves next door to her family’s garden-center business to run his grandparents’ orchard, it stirs up gossip—and a tempest of passions—just in time for pumpkin harvest. As Roman and Bella once again get caught up in a swirl of desire and heartache, not to mention her overprotective father’s fury, Mirror Lake will soon find out whether the Italian hometown beauty and her unforgettable Greek god can stand a second chance.
Of all the romance tropes, the "second chance" romance is the one that hooks me in the fastest and the most completely. If I know nothing about a romance other than it fits into this trope, I am there for it. Because of that, this book was a no-brainer for me. Not only does it fall into the second-chance bucket, but it also has elements of the small town romance (another trope that is growing on me).
Bella immediately pulled me into this story. I think I could relate to her slight air of desperation, her need to escape the shackles of her small-town life, and her undeniable adorkableness. I will admit that her character isn't even throughout the book--she has a few personality shifts here and there that don't quite fit in with the general fabric of her presence in the book. However, these tended to happen in more emotional scenes and, while I do think it could have been rewritten more seamlessly, it didn't bother me too much.
Roman is a pleasant enough, albeit stereotypical romantic lead. He's very good looking (of course), has an undying love for Bella (of course), and is willing to fight for her (of course). I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with all that--it is, after all, exactly what I would expect from a romance. However, Liasson missed more than a few opportunities to make him a bit more nuanced and a bit more human--both of which would have made him a more memorable romantic hero.
Liasson's voice is clear and light. While she does do a bit more than just dabble in cliches, the overall tone of the book allowed me to forgive that. There are some very amusing, RomCom-like scenes in the book, which I quite enjoyed. Even the darker scenes had the requisite amount of emotion to keep me reading.
Here is what confused me about this book. Looking at this title's entry in both Goodreads and Amazon, as well as on the author's website, there is no indication that this is not a standalone novel. Yet, at several points while reading it, I felt like I was reading a latter title in a series. There was a lot of explanation of the backstories of secondary characters--something you see quite often in latter books in a series (and something that drives me crazy! It really breaks up the momentum of the narrative and I wish authors would just do away with it completely). When I looked online, I saw that Liasson has a series, the Mirror Lake novels, that are set in this same world with the same characters---so I'm not sure why this book is not considered to be part of that series. Personally, I think the ideas that books in a series can be read out of order or standalone novels existing within a series is almost always a myth and authors should just tell readers to start at the beginning. If I had known that I was reading a 4th or 5th book in a series, I might not have been quite as irritated when these things happened (or I would have taken the time to read the previous books). Instead, I was left feeling a little hoodwinked over this one.
All in all, I enjoyed this book, but it had its issues. However, this book was at least strong enough to prompt me to possibly go back and read the earlier books in this series that this book is supposedly not a part of. If you are like me and need to read things in order, I'd recommend doing the same. But if you are one of those readers who can just jump into a series, I would suggest giving this one a try.
I won an electronic copy of this book from Goodreads. I was encouraged, but not required, to write an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.