Sweet Sexy Heart
by Melissa Foster
Release Date: August 4, 2021
Publisher: World Literary Press
Book #8 in the Bradens and Montgomerys series
Part of the larger Love in Bloom series
Number of Pages: 364
Source: Amazon Pre-order
Contemporary Romance Ages 17 and up
Amber Montgomery is perfectly happy with her quiet life. She loves running her bookstore, taking long walks with Reno, her Labrador retriever seizure-response dog, and spending time with her close-knit family. She’s never needed thrills the way some of her sisters have. In an effort to control her epilepsy, she tries to avoid anything that creates too much excitement or stress—including relationships. When Amber hosts a book signing for famed-athlete-turned-author Dash Pennington, he’s everything she’s spent her life avoiding: loud, aggressive, and far too handsome, as proven by the hordes of women who surround him everywhere he goes. Amber can’t ignore the sparks flying between her and Dash, but this is a no-brainer for her: Ignore their chemistry and hold her breath until he leaves town.
Dash Pennington has spent his life running. Running the ball in for a touchdown, running from town to town to appease his public relations reps, and for years, running into the arms of too many women to count. He’s also an expert at protecting—his reputation, his family, and lately, his sanity. But he’s ready to make a change. When he comes to the sleepy little town of Oak Falls, Virginia, and witnesses the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen living the life he craves, she refuses to have anything to do with him. But now that Dash has found the one thing he doesn’t want to run from, he’ll stop at nothing to win her over.
I think readers of this series all knew it would take someone extra special to catch Amber’s eye and win her heart. When I realized she would be paired with a famous NFL player who has a very public life, I knew things would get interesting. It was a pleasant surprise to have Dash written as an outgoing person, but not someone who chases the spotlight. And what a joy that he wasn’t, nor was he ever, a player when it came to women. I love those stories, don’t get me wrong. But it was nice to have a famous athlete that has not given into those trappings as a main character.
There was a bit in the beginning that I found Dash to be a bit overbearing. Charming, yes. Sweet, of course. But still overbearing. Thankfully, that didn’t persist throughout this story. He gave Amber the room she needed when she needed it, but was always there to back her up. Dash quickly realized that Amber always has to have a semblance of control. Not just because of her personality, but also for her health.
Amber’s need for control does tend to be very strict. On one hand, all those that know and love her understand that need and help her to achieve that goal. But they also worry that she doesn’t let her true self out enough, if ever. Hence, the reason they all jump on the “teaching Amber to flirt” bandwagon when they realize she may be interested in someone. It turns out they needn’t have bothered since Dash is instantly enamored, awkward blushing and fumbling conversations and all.
This story is a great escape. There is so much joy and love coming off the pages. Amber has her health issues and Dash has to find his footing after retirement, but when there is angst that pops up in the story it is generally dealt with within a chapter and with both characters working together.
There was only one thing that bothered me in this book, to the point I’m going to actually say something about it here. It’s been something that has bothered me in more and more of the books in this series lately. This is a HUGE series. Although this is book 8 in the Braden/Montgomery branch of the series, Love in Bloom has close to (if not more than) 100 books thus far. Often, the author will go into too many details about who a certain person is in relation to the series. Even though I’ve read most of them, it still gets confusing. Not because she includes these characters, but because she insists on giving a bit of back story on them. If it doesn’t pertain to the current story, I don’t need the character’s backstory. Sometimes I understand that the author is setting up future stories. But I still don’t need the bio on the people to the extent that she gives. I appreciate her efforts, but tend to skim those areas because, as I said, it’s actually more confusing that helpful. And since it doesn’t pertain to the current story, I don’t think new readers of her books need the information. In fact, it may scare them away!
That being said, I want to reiterate how much I adore this author’s books. They always give me what I need. Love, family, joy, and an escape. Don’t let those random character bios keep you away.