Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Sweetheart Secret - Shirley Jump (Berkley - Sept 2014)

Series: Sweetheart Sisters (Book 3)

The Sweetheart Sisters are ready for some good ol' matchmaking...

Colton Harper, Rescue Bay's resident physician, gave up his wild ways years ago, in exchange for a straight and narrow life. But then a one-night stand comes back to haunt him when the intoxicating woman he left behind shows up in Rescue Bay.

Once upon a time, fiery Daisy Barton was Colt's wife--and still is, thanks to a paperwork glitch. Now she's here in Rescue Bay, with a once-in-a-lifetime chance at a fresh start--renovating a crumbling B&B. The catch? The loan she needs requires her "husband's" financial backing.

Colt wants to turn Daisy away, but when he sees her coax a smile from his cantankerous grandfather, Colt realizes maybe she can help him, too. It's the perfect arrangement--until the sparks start flying. Suddenly Colt realizes he's still head over heels in love with Daisy, and that he'll have to risk everything...or risk losing her forever.

Good conclusion to the series and second chance love story. Colton and Daisy had known each other one summer fourteen years earlier. Daisy was staying with her aunt and cousin at the Hideaway Inn, getting a taste of what a normal family is like. Colton was in a rebellious period, reacting to the extreme expectations put on him by his parents. The two spent all their free time together, and as soon as she turned eighteen they eloped and settled in New Orleans. Three weeks later, Daisy came home to a note from Colton that he had to go and he'd call her, but he never did. She received divorce papers, which she signed and sent back, but never heard anything else. Until three months ago, when Colton was in New Orleans and ran into her. Sparks flew, one hot night together giving her hope, but then he was gone again.

Then Daisy's aunt becomes ill and asks Daisy and her cousin Emma to restore and run the old Hideaway Inn. Daisy is ready to make a new start in her life and agrees, but gets some unwelcome news when she applies for a construction loan. It seems she needs her husband to cosign the loan. Apparently Colton had never filed the paperwork, and they were still married.

Colton had left his wild ways behind and gone to medical school. He is now Rescue Bay's resident doctor, and a more boring and uptight man would be hard to find. He reacted to the tragedy that brought him home by becoming quite the control freak. Among his patients are the old folks at the retirement home, including Greta, who likes a little bourbon in her morning coffee. He is also the caretaker for his beloved grandfather. Unfortunately, the same tragedy that brought Colton home also drove a wedge between Earl and Colton. Colton tries to get Earl to be more healthy, with better food and more exercise, and Earl resists every step of the way. Colton is frustrated and Earl doesn't seem to care about anything. The last thing that Colton expected or wanted was to have his past, in the form of Daisy, show up in Rescue Bay.

The sparks really fly between them, which doesn't make either of them happy. It's even worse for Colton when Daisy connects with his grandfather and succeeds in getting him to do things that Colton has been attempting for years. So Daisy and Colton strike a bargain. Daisy will move in and help with Earl in exchange for Colton's signature on the loan paperwork. Then they will file the divorce papers and finally be done with it. 

Neither counts on the feelings that are still there between them, or the issues that keep them from exploring those feelings. Colton had never told Daisy what sent him home and drove him to stay there. He keeps that information to himself for most of the book, the guilt still haunting him. He can't see that by talking about it, Daisy might understand and forgive him, allowing them to move on. For her part, Daisy is afraid of failing. She grew up with a mother who could never stay in one place for long, so Daisy never learned how to put down roots. She continued in that lifestyle, working dead-end jobs and constantly moving, until taking in the Inn project. She discovers in herself a desire to settle down, but she's afraid that it won't last. Both Colton and Daisy have changed in the last fourteen years, but they still have to be able to talk to each other to make a relationship work. Daisy seemed to be more willing to open up, but she felt like she was getting nowhere getting Colton to reciprocate. I loved how her innate kindness and sympathy came through when she finally discovered what had separated them. I ached for Colton and the pain he was still in. I really wondered what it was going to take to finally bring them together. I loved Colton's big moment at the end, and the re-emergence of the man that Daisy fell in love with.

There was more to the book than just the story of Colton and Daisy. There was also the contentious relationship between him and his grandfather. Both were suffering because of the same event, but instead of supporting each other they were wallowing in their own guilty feelings. I loved seeing the effect that Daisy had on Earl, and how it brought the two men together. Daisy's cousin Emma also had her own issues to resolve regarding her marriage. She escaped to Rescue Bay and the Inn, trying to decide what to do. Her husband Roger seemed like a real ass and I thought for sure that she was going to find true love in Rescue Bay. She did, but not the way I expected. Then there was the ongoing saga of Greta and Harold. Those two were like oil and water. I loved Harold's optimism and refusal to let Greta's attitude discourage him. Greta was very much "the lady doth protest too much" when it came to Harold, and I loved seeing the two of them go at it.

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