Reviewed by Helyce
Tonya and Trent have been friends for over a year now. While Trent’s two brothers and Tonya’s two best girlfriends have hooked up, moving forward with their lives and getting married, Trent and Tonya have remained solidly in the friend zone. Tonya has a boyfriend who is away in the military, and Trent totally respects that situation.
Trent is carrying around a lot of baggage. He’d been hurt badly in a previous relationship and it’s shaped how he views all women. His biggest problem is his inability to trust a woman. He expects her to fail him, in every way. Tonya is safe, because she has a boyfriend and she’s been completely faithful to him while he’s been away. This is a quality Trent admires in Tonya so he’s content with the friendship and being there for her in every platonic way.
Unfortunately for Tonya, the one thing that Trent admires most about her is about to blow up in her face. There is no boyfriend in the military. He broke up with her in an email two months after leaving Tonya when he met someone else and got her pregnant. Tonya didn’t know how to tell anyone what a scumbag he’d been so she just let everyone go on believing they were still together.
Now over a year later, Tonya is regretting that decision as her feelings for Trent stray far away from the friendship they’ve shared. She wants more, but she knows that when she tells him the truth, she stands the chance of losing him for good.
Of the three books in this series, Rough Tumble was probably my least favorite. I didn’t like Trent very much. We know Trent was hurt in a previous relationship, but we don’t get many details about exactly what happened until later in the story, so it’s hard to understand his stance on relationships. Because of this, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that he had hardened his heart and put up so many walls around himself that he literally expected every single woman that came into his life to hurt him in the same way. I can understand being leery and cautious, but to all out expect someone to betray you didn’t work for me.
Tonya’s “fake” boyfriend had come up in the previous two books and by the time we get to Rough Tumble everyone in their small circle knows Tonya’s secret except Trent. I found this difficult to believe. That everyone perpetrated the lie over such a long period of time didn’t work for me. I can’t imagine pretending to have a boyfriend just because you were embarrassed and didn’t know how to tell the town what he had done. How is that a reflection on you? He’s the one that was unfaithful. He made that choice. He’s the bad guy. Not you.
Once Tonya’s secret is out, things do move rather quickly between Trent and Tonya and considering page length, I was okay with this. Trent is still cautious, but once he realizes how he feels about Tonya and that she feels the same way, these two aren’t going to waste any time. They’ve been hungry for each other for a year and they have a lot of time to make up for. But Trent won’t open himself up to Tonya, not in the way she has, and his attempt to keep his past in the past just keeps that wall up around him because he thinks he’ll be safer that way. But I see how it was a necessary evil because it sets up Trent for the conflict the author introduces to test the relationship.
With all that, though, there were parts of this story and this series that I truly enjoyed. Most especially it is the relationship between the three heroines of this series, Gretchen, Flora and Tonya. These three strong women, who are independent, smart and courageous, have been there for each other in one way or another over a period of time. Together they have forged a strong bond of friendship that was only enhanced by the relationships they found with the men they let into their hearts.
I also loved the fact that these women were not afraid to eat. Their love of pie and their pie eating contests made for many humorous moments throughout the series. The camaraderie among the three women would stand the test of time as long as there was pie or the occasional pitcher of Sangria. I really liked that their bond remained important even after they fell in love and married.
While I had definite issues with Trent’s character, in the end, it was the realizations that Trent made that pulled the story together for me. His love for Tonya becoming more important than the worries and fears he had harbored for so many years.