by Marina Adair
Release Date: August 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 286
Source: Amazon Purchase
Ages 16 and up
CW: abuse, kidnapping, alcoholism
Sweet Plains, Texas, wasn’t so sweet to Cody, Noah, and Beau Tucker. But now the Tucker boys are men, ready to take on the questions that have haunted them since they left home…
Cody Tucker shook the dust of his two-bit hometown off his boots ten years ago—right about the time his college sweetheart, Shelby Lynn Harris, married his so-called best friend. But when his dad dies, Cody finds himself home again and knee deep in the past. Except now his rowdy beer buddy is the sheriff, his housekeeper is a blue-ribbon chili chef, and the family ranch is in the red. The only thing that hasn’t changed is Shelby Lynn…
Shelby Lynn has gone through a lot of heartache thanks to Cody. But that’s all over now. She just wants a chance to live the life she’s made for herself in peace. The trouble is, the Sweet Plains chili cook off is heating up, the Ladies of Sweet are as riled as hornets, and as soon as Cody gets near, she’s forgets all about peace. Cody is pure temptation—and she knows just how good it feels to give in…
This book has been on my TBR for many, many years. I’m a huge fan of this author and, at one point, I was all caught up with her books other than this one. Last year I read a holiday compilation that included a novella that seemed to be a book 2 (or 1.5?) to this series and I loved that story. It was Blame It on the Mistletoe, which was included in the book Christmas Kisses with My Cowboy. I already had a copy of this book waiting, and yet it took me anther year to get around to reading the darn thing.
From what I can tell, this may be the author’s first published books. Or, at the very least, one of the first. I hate to say that I could tell. Now, that doesn’t mean the story was bad. It just wasn’t up to the standards I have in my mind for a Marina Adair story. There was quite a bit of repetition and definitely some issues with the flow of the story. I found myself skimming a lot.
Shelby and Cody have great chemistry. I don’t think I’m giving anything away, especially since it comes out really early on in the story, by saying this is a secret baby book. Not at all close to being a favorite trope of mine. In fact, I generally dislike this trope more than any other. While I don’t think I’ll ever be okay with this trope, there are times the author handles the particulars in way that I can at least understand how a mother came to keep a child’s existence from its father. The author gives a good enough reason here that I didn’t come away hating Shelby. Yet, the more I learn about Shelby’s ex and her own feelings about the man, the more I question her reasoning skills when it came to Cody and her pregnancy.
It’s hard for me to reconcile Silas, Cody’s dad, with Silas, Jacob’s grandpa. There are a lot of story holes in my mind with respect to Silas. Why he did and didn’t do certain things. I understand alcoholism and addiction. That’s not where my issues lie. I just felt there was something not fully fleshed out and/or explained when it came to this man that started it all.
All in all, I’m glad I read this story. I would have always wondered. And while it’s not her best work, it’s not a bad book either. It’s interesting for me to see how much she’s grown as a writer since these earlier days.