Author: Ann Marie Walker
As a Certified Professional Organizer, everything in Paige Parker’s world is as it should be. Perfect apartment, perfect office, perfect life. And now, the perfect vacation planned to honor Singles Day. After all, what’s better than celebrating her pride in being single? Because who needs a man anyway? They have zero taste in quality television, leave the toilet seat up, and sleep with your best friend. No thanks. Her life is fine just the way it is.
As the owner of a now-dormant bed & breakfast, Lucas Croft’s life is simple and quiet. It’s only him and his five-year-old daughter, which is just the way he likes it. Because who needs a woman anyway? They nag you to clean up your stuff, want the toilet seat put down, and expect the dishes to be done the same day the meal is cooked. No thanks. His life is fine just the way it is.
But when Paige books a room that Lucas’ well-intentioned sister listed without his knowledge, their two worlds collide. If they can survive the week together, they just might discover exactly what they’ve both been missing.
Two people with two heartbreaking pasts come together to rebuild their faith in love. The cover drew me to this book as who couldn’t love a novel with a puppy on the front! It’s a very straight-forward slow burn romance as each character works through what they went through in the past in order to try and move forward to a new future. It’s a very sweet and heart-warming story that is a great read for the start of 2021. This was my first novel by this author, but it won’t be my last.
Paige Parker is a professional organizer based in Chicago. She owns her own business and employs her assistant turned best friend, Samuel – a super delightful character that I wouldn’t mind becoming a main character in his own story. Sammy’s character is over the top so you need to take him with a grain of salt, but he was a good balance to Paige. She’s been burned before by her past romantic relationship and has lost her faith in love. After scouring the internet, she discovers a holiday called Singles Appreciation/Awareness Day that falls the day after Valentine’s Day. Paige decides that maybe this is the year to begin celebrating it and she ends up taking a quiz about travel that leads her to a charming B&B in North Carolina. Unfortunately, the inn does not look like anything that was described online leading Paige to discover if she’s made a huge mistake or found a new opportunity.
Lucas is the owner of the B&B and lives there full time with his four year old daughter Madeline (“Maddie”). After suddenly losing his wife (and Maddie’s mom), Lucas has let the inn become in disarray with only one usable guest room. Thanks to his sister, Sophie, the room has now been rented by Paige and it’s a shock to Lucas when Sophie surprises him that he’ll be playing host again. As he is in financial distress, he chooses to let Paige stay and now has to figure out how to be a host when he is not in the mental headspace yet. An instant attraction to his guest from the city though might make this whole ordeal worth it in the end.
Paige and Lucas have the opposites attract as the foundation for their relationship and it’s propelled forward by the convenience of the proximity they share while being in the same house alone. Based on each character’s personality, I don’t believe they would’ve gotten together in another environment as they wouldn’t have gotten the chance to move past their initial differences. The reason they work and come together is because they are forced to interact with each other and being alone in the house together creates an environment for them to slowly reveal pieces of themselves that would have otherwise remain hidden.
The second half of the book is definitely better than the first as there are a lot of moments where it’s hard to see how Lucas has gotten this far in life as he makes a lot of sexist remarks that just doesn’t seem to match how life would’ve seemed with his wife, unless she did everything for him. He does grow a little as the story progresses, but his character might not be for every reader. Both Lucas and Paige’s relationship is built mainly on sexual attraction as their good looks are what draw them to each other. It’s another reason why the second half of the book is better because there is more substance behind their attraction to each other as they get to know each other little by little. I enjoyed their banter and you can’t deny that the two characters had chemistry, but I just wish there was little more behind it all towards the first half of the book.
Maddie was fantastic character as she was adorable. She was spunky yet not over-the-top which made her enjoyable and a standout whenever she was mentioned. Sophie was a fun character and it’s nice how close she is to her niece, Maddie. Sophie would be a fun character that I would like to read a story where she gets to be the main. The non-talking standouts are the mom dog and her puppies as they become an essential plot point when it comes to moving the story along and what read can resist a story featuring adorable puppies and their concerned mom. Every character was great to read about and they fit together well with our main two – Lucas and Paige.
Overall, the story was a fun easy read that gives a fun version of the forced proximity opposites attract romance. There’s the added dimension of each character experiencing past heartbreak and grief as Paige went through a tough break-up and Lucas dealt with the loss of his partner. It also gave insight into how to bring in an outside individual to integrate them into an established family. To be with Lucas, Paige must become a mother-like figure to Maddie without replacing her mom. The romance story is sweet and heart-warming with a good ending. A great read that I would recommend to others.
**I give a special thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for an ARC to read and review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.**