This book was provided from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All quotes taken from the pre-published copy and may be altered or omitted from the final copy.
WOW! A bang-up start to a new contemporary series, this book is filled with romance, suspense, mystery, and nostalgia.
"I want you," he whispered. "I always want you."
The book starts with Finn MacBain and his brothers drooling over their new neighbors' pool. But they were already caught and punished for a previous unauthorized use... So as Finn contemplates another go, he sees cute little 6-year old Peyton get too close and tumble into the pool - with no one else around. Finn rushes to her rescue, pushing his neighbor's party guests out of the way and yelling at them to call 9-1-1. He pulls Peyton from the pool and administers CPR until the little girl comes back to them. And thus begins Peyton's long relationship with her "hotshot" hero, Finn.
Fast forward several years to Peyton starting her new job at a culinary magazine in Dalton, Minnesota - an hour or so north of the Twin Cities. Peyton's got a degree in Journalism and spent time in France at a culinary institute, so the job offer at a renowned magazine that reviews restaurants is right up her alley. Peyton will be the new assistant to Drew Albertson, son-in-law to the mogul who started the magazine.
But immediately, we discover that all's not right. Peyton finds herself being sexually harassed by Drew, and no one seems to care. Not HR and not his wife. As Drew escalates his demands and even attempts to break down her hotel room door to get to her, Peyton decides she needs to take action. So she tricks Drew into confessing all in a recording. But Drew's not fooled, and he sends one of his goons to take care of her. As Peyton's leaving Minnesota to return home to Texas, she's nearly run off the road by Drew's goon.
When she returns to Texas, Peyton learns that her Uncle Len wants to give her and her 2 sisters one of his hotel properties in Florida, Bishop's Cove. His deal is that the 3 sisters make at least a 20% profit on the place within a year. He's got some renovations going on that he's paying for. And his only stipulation is that the sisters use his manager, Christopher. Peyton loves Bishop Cove and sees it as her chance to really kick her culinary career into gear. Her sister, Lucy, sees it as an opportunity to put her interior design skills to use. Their youngest sister, Ivy, is finishing up her teaching degree, so she agrees but is mostly out of the picture.
Finn comes back into the picture when he spots Peyton at his brother's wedding, before Uncle Len makes his deal and Peyton goes off to Florida. Finn is HOT! He's now an FBI agent who's somewhat jaded by what he's seen and done and by an on-again-off-again girlfriend, Danielle, who cheated on him after they were engaged. Finn's decided that there's no place for a wife or kids in his life. Until he sees Peyton again....
Then Finn discovers bullet holes in Peyton's car - bullet holes that Peyton didn't know were there. Finn gets the whole story of Drew Albertson out of Peyton in no time. And he determines to help her, especially after Peyton discovers another bullet hole in the roof of her car not long after she's in Florida.
The chemistry between Finn and Peyton is off the charts! Which leads Finn to continue his involvement in protecting Peyton and nailing Drew Albertson.
It takes awhile for Finn to realize that he can't live without Peyton. But when he does... wow!
"I've seen some pretty awful things," he continued. "There's real evil in the world, and when you come face-to-face with it, it sticks in your head. You can't get away from it. Even when you're asleep." "As hard as some of those situations have been, I've only been scared...really scared...twice in my life," he said....The first time was when I was fourteen and looked out my window and saw you go under water. I almost forze, I was so scared. To this day I haven't forgotten that feeling." "The second time was when Braxton sent me that text that your car blew up and you were on =the way to the hospital. I didn't know how bad it was, didn't know if you were going to live or die. That same god-awful feeling of real terror was there inside me. I love you, and I don't want to live without you. I'm better with you. It's as simple as that...and as liberating."
I really loved the HOT HOT HOT chemistry between Finn & Peyton. It was sweet and sexy. I loved the banter and interaction between the two of them. I loved how Finn was always modestly in the background, but constantly doing heroic things. And I loved their sense of humor.
At times, the book seemed to lag. I didn't know why I cared about all the details with Drew Albertson until AFTER I realized what she was going to do about it and how that related to Finn and his FBI connections. And when their cousin Debi was involved and obviously sabotaging the sisters at Bishop's Cove, I was frustrated. A little too much of those "extra" details could be trimmed without losing anything.
But overall, I really loved Finn, Peyton, and this first book in what I hope will be an exciting new contemporary romance series!