Reviewed on 05/13/12: Okay, I'll admit I'm turning into a Nora Roberts junkie. I like 99% of her books, and probably am a little biased. But there's still a part of me every time I pick up one of her books that questions whether she'll be able to make me happy again. I mean, no one is that good, right? Wrong. At least for me. This book I was anticipating the least in the series, and so far, it's my favorite! Beckett's book was good, but I love Owen more than I thought I would.
Owen was a little bland in the first book, always the taskmaster and the over organized, happy-go-lucky, nothing seemed to phase him type. Not that this is bad, just I didn't see how he would make a good lead character, and his attraction to Avery was never really mentioned, or vice versa. Of course, in his own book he's a much more interesting character and I'm so glad I just jumped in. Admittedly, it started off a little slow for me, but I found myself falling in love with Owen's steadiness and easy going nature. It takes a lot to rattle Owen, but when he's rattled it's kinda cute, and he does have a temper, which is equally cute and fun to watch this always-in-control man lose his cool. I like that Avery is the one who unbalances him, and he balances her out. They work well together this way, and it's nice to see.
Avery was cute in the first book but in this one we get to know her a lot better and she's easy to love. Determined, scatterbrained outside of business, a romantic heart with an unromantic upbringing, she hopes for the best but expects the worst. She's always had a small thing for Owen, he was her first boyfriend, a big deal for a 5 year old. Where Owen is calm, she's wild, he's a planner and she's fly by the seat of her pants, he's organized and she's got wrapping paper all over the place. They often tease each other about their respective traits, and it works because they accept the others flaws easily. They are a pretty cute pair!
The conflict comes from an external source, but one that very much plays on Avery's mind. Her mother just up and left when Avery was 13, no explanation and never a word on where she went. Until now. When Avery's mom shows up crying, broke and homeless, it was enough for me to feel gut-wrenched for Avery's behalf. How could a woman turn her back on her child and then come and ask for money? I could see why Avery didn't want to talk about it with anyone, she has a lot of pride and didn't want any pity while secretly wondering if she was anything like her mother when it came to her love life. It's a lot to take on and the fact that Avery internalizes it, really since she was 13, makes it something pretty big to overcome. Like most of NR's characters, she works it out in her way, for Avery this means cooking up a storm, and rationalizes it out in a few days. This might be my one complaint about NR books, all her characters seem to work things out rather quickly. For me, it'd probably be a slower process to work through my feelings of my mother showing back up, but romance books can't go on forever so I guess it has to be worked out faster than normal. Either way, it still feels like a genuine conflict that needs to be dealt with, so I don't mind how quickly it's resolved.
We also get to see a preview of how things might be between Ryder and Hope when they share a New Year's Midnight kiss, and all I can say is, Please don't make me wait until November to read more! I wish it was sooner, and since NR is so prolific, I often wonder how books ahead she is, and why can't we get the trilogies much quicker?
If you've read the first of the series, I think you might be pleasantly surprised at how nice this one is. It'll definitely make you anxious over the ending of the trilogy!