Reviewed by Helyce
As we return to the town of Serendipity, we now focus on the Marsden family or more specifically Michael Marsden. He’s back in Serendipity in order to help out the local police force and take over as Chief while his father goes through his chemo treatments. As a young man, Mike couldn’t wait to get out of Serendipity, and he’d done just that. Though his ties to his family are strong, he’s made it clear to everyone that he doesn’t plan on sticking around and will be heading back to New York as soon as his dad is ready to come back to work.
Cara Hartley is a cop in Serendipity. She’s determined not to let the fact that she had a really hot one night stand with Mike a few months before, affect the working relationship she now finds herself in. Mike is very professional at the office, but the sexual tension continues to grow until they can’t help but give in to it. But Mike and Cara have an understanding and Cara knows that he’ll be leaving at some point. That doesn’t mean she likes it and totally expects to have her heart broken.
As Cara and Mike work together on an old cold case for the mayor, it becomes clear that Mike’s biological father might have been a little more involved in the old case than originally thought. When he surfaces out of the blue, it opens old wounds and forces Mike to face up to many things, most especially his feelings for Cara.
I was so happy to learn that Ms. Phillips was continuing her Serendipity series. I enjoyed the first three books and while I didn’t remember Mike from the previous books, it became clear why as I began the book. Mike is the eldest Marsden son, but his dad, Simon, is not his biological father. Though Simon never did anything to make him feel any less loved than his younger siblings, Sam and Erin, Mike was well aware of the type of man that his biological father was. This gave Mike a big chip on his shoulder and he convinced himself that he was just like his biological dad; that all his negative traits passed through to Mike via their blood. So Mike avoids commitment, preferring to keep his relationships with women simple and carefree.
Cara has shied away from relationships having grown up in a house where her father abused her mother. Unable to help her mother, who willingly chooses stay with her abusive husband in spite of Cara’s offer of help, Cara is estranged from her mother and it kills her every day. When she and Mike get together, she agrees to his terms, convincing herself that she’d rather have Mike for a little while, than not at all. It was an excellent strategy until she couldn’t keep her heart out of the equation.
I enjoyed Mike and Cara together. While their relationship does start out as more of a friends with benefits situation, but it is clear to the reader that for both characters it was never just sex between them. They could ignore it all they wanted, but with each encounter, they both fell deeper without even knowing it. Mike’s rant about not wanting a relationship because he felt he was just like his biological father started to drive me up a wall after a while. It was clear that Mike was a good man. He used the fact that his father left his pregnant mother as a crutch to explain his inability to love rather than face facts and deal with his feelings of abandonment.
The cold case in the story that is assigned to Mike and Cara by the mayor is used throughout the story and provides an avenue to “push” the characters together more and more. It succeeds in that it brings out things that help not only Mike, but his mother and father to get closure on things that happened in the past. But I was disappointed in the revelations of the case as a whole. There seemed to be some build up, but I felt let down.
I loved that the author revisited characters from the previous three books as we get little updates on everyone. Young Tess is as brash as ever and continues to entertain! I hope Ms. Phillips continues to include them in future books. Perfect Fling is next up and will be Mike’s sister Erin’s book. There’s a teaser at the end of this book and it promises to be a good one. I for one am looking forward to it!