Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Can I make a little confession here? When I first started reading this book, I didn't really like it. It wasn't bad or anything but it was just... kind of... meh. I'm REALLY glad that I stayed with it and kept reading. This one took me on a roller coaster ride and for once, I didn't want the ride to end!
Leah Baron is the Town Manager of Sweetwater, Oregon and she's pretty great. She's not had an easy life. When she was a kid, her mom ran off with the man who swindled the entire town and Leah's father has made it his mission to make that man pay. That man is Charlie Hanover but he's now dead and Leah hopes that the rage that her father has held on to for so many decades will start to fade. Leah has no such luck though because Charlie's sons have come back to town to deal with what's left of Charlie's estate: Shadow Hill, a rundown property and house that used to belong to Leah's father. I mean, can you already see how juicy this is going to be?? Unfortunately, I did NOT see the potential right off the bat. What I did see and what made me keep reading was what a great heroine Leah was. Her dad has pretty much raised her on a steady diet of hate and an inhuman desire for revenge, retribution, restitution, whatever they can get their hands on. But Leah is still a pretty modern girl so she sees that all that rage and hate isn't good for anyone. Sure, Charlie was a terrible man and he ruined a lot of lives but there is a simple and practical solution to this. Leah's going to offer the Hanover boys a reasonable amount of money for the rundown estate, the boys will take it and leave and everyone will be happy! That's another great thing about Leah: she's so practical and logical! And it's a good plan... why would they turn it down?
Well, Leah hasn't met Declan Hanover yet, otherwise she'd know why they would turn it down! Declan doesn't like being told what to do. And after years of being told to Get Bent (probably some more colorful phrases were used) because of Charlie's schemes, he does what he likes. But Declan has a temper and before he went into the military, that temper would get him in a lot of trouble. The military taught him how to reign in that temper and also taught him all about discipline. All of that discipline goes right out the window when he meets Leah though. He thinks that Leah is bold and gutsy and he admires that in her. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he finds her insanely attractive! LOL! I think that when reading this book, you can see a not-so-obvious similarity between Leah and Declan. Just as Leah was raised by a man who was hurt and angry, Declan has had a lot of hurt and angry people come into his life. See, the people of Sweetwater, Oregon are not the only ones that Charlie Hanover scammed out of their hard earned money. And Charlie's victims have sought Declan out to give him a piece of their mind. So Declan has seen just as much rage and hate and anger as Leah has. Anyways, I totally loved Declan. He's sort of a reformed Bad Boy but he's not really a Bad Boy and he's not quite reformed either!
Together, Leah and Declan are awesome! The best thing about them is that they're hilarious! Declan knows how to get under Leah's skin and you can imagine this mischievous little twinkle in his eye whenever he's goading her about whether or not their business dinner is just a business dinner or a real live date. Of course, Leah could NEVER date a Hanover... right? Well, certainly not without her dad blowing a gasket! That's actually my only complaint about this book. I wish that Leah had stood up to her dad, like in a big way. But she lets him say some nasty, nasty things to her and she just walks away. Sure, he's just really pissed and is overreacting but I wish there were some consequences to the crap he pulls with her. He's truly a bully and he doesn't think for one second that he may have made a mistake by practically drowning Leah in hate for her whole life. BUT, this is only book 1 of a series that I would guess will last at least 3 books. So maybe her dad WILL get his comeuppance in future books?
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There is NOT a lot of Sexy Time but the sexual tension between Leah and Declan is pretty great (I can't believe I'm saying that). Be aware that there's a teeny bit of a cliffhanger at the end of the book. Book 2 isn't scheduled to come out until this summer so keep that in mind (there's a little preview of Book 2 at the end of Book 1 and it looks really cute and funny!). I loved all the characters, even when I hated them (Leah's dad)! The side characters are fully fleshed out but I think that might be because some of them will be featured in future books (fingers crossed for Leah's BFF Mallory and Declan's older brother Callen to become a couple)!
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind a little less Sexy Time, a little more intrigue and lots of laughs!