Reviewed by Helyce
I’ve been a fan of Ms. Castle for years now. Her paranormals have always been an auto buy for me and I especially enjoyed her recent Dark Dynasties and Hearts of the Fallen series. So while I was surprised at her jump to contemporary romance, I looked forward to it. Excited to see what she’d come up with and I’m thrilled to tell you how much I enjoyed this book.
Sam is beyond worried about returning to Harvest Cove. When she left, 10 years ago, she considered herself a misfit-not fitting at all into the supposed or expected persona of a lot of the people in the small community. An artist, she expressed herself as such, wearing black, dyeing her blonde hair and keeping to herself, her sketchbook never far from her grasp. But for a short time in high school, she had a secret relationship of sorts with Jake Smith. Athletic, popular and good looking, Sam thought he was different. The time they spent together encouraging her to embrace the possibility that he felt something for her too. That is until he publicly denounced her, embarrassing her and breaking her heart.
Ms. Castle doesn’t waste any time introducing our main protagonists. Sam arrives home and the first person she sets eyes on is Jake Smith. Now the town veterinarian, he’s at Sam’s house helping her mother corral a bunch of feral kittens. Sam looks very different, but Jakes knows without a doubt that it’s her. The attraction is immediate for them both, but Sam’s heart still bears the cracks from years ago and she raises up all her walls, determined to keep Jake out.
I loved the theme of second chances explored in this story. With Sam and Jake, they have a second chance at something they started ten years ago, that clearly has been burning at a low flame just waiting for the right time to re-ignite. I loved that Sam did not play games with Jake. Yes, she’d been hurt and her teenaged heart still held a big grudge over what Jake did to her, but at the same time it’s clear that she and Jake share some sort of connection that she wants to explore. She doesn’t play coy or give Jake a hard time-they confront their past and make amends and move forward. I liked this a lot. I think this speaks to Sam’s character and personality. She wasn’t trying to be someone she wasn’t. She’d always followed her heart, done what she wanted. She wanted Jake and she was willing to take a chance.
Sam also gets a second chance where her art is concerned. Though she’d been painting and had a lot of interest in her art, issues with her boss at the gallery she’d worked at created problems for her to the extent that she’d stopped painting. When she returns to Harvest Cove, she learns that a woman, Zoe, has opened a gallery in town featuring local artists and it’s a happy coincidence that she needs help and gives Sam a job. While a bit contrived, Zoe is a very interesting character in her own right and I can’t wait to see what the author does with her character. She’s not only Sam’s boss, they find an easy but sincere friendship-something that Sam needs very much. With Zoe’s encouragement, Sam picks up her brushes again and finds that her muse is still with her.
We also see Sam’s second chance within her own family, both with her mother, Andi and her sister Emma. Two sisters, opposites to say the least-Emma was as far from eccentric as could be. She fell easily into the expected persona of Harvest Cove and with her party planning business she’s made a successful life for herself. But in the few scenes she has with Sam, I sense that she’s putting on a front and is not completely happy. I think she admires Sam’s courage to explore her own path. Emma comes off as very buttoned up and maybe a bit of a prude. I’m excited to see her let loose!
While Sam and Jake are exploring their relationship-Sam finds that Jake is still part of that same core group of high school friends that gave her such a hard time. This is not unexpected of a small town, I guess, but what I enjoyed was that not everyone in the core group was the same. Sam learns early on who has grown and matured and who has not. And she doesn’t hold it against Jake, well she tries not to. These characters provide the catharsis for the bit of conflict the author introduces to throw a wrench into Jake and Sam’s blossoming relationship. While predictable, this worked for me because one of the characters who I liked and hated at the same time truly redeemed himself in actions and words. Another character who very much intrigued me and I look forward to getting to know.
As this is a first book, we are introduced to many characters but there is not that huge info dump associated with first books. Focus is on our main couple, with expected forays into the past. The author expertly hints at the possibilities of relationships with some individuals without really giving anything away and we are left to ponder who will end up with who. I enjoyed everything about this story and would say that Ms. Castle’s jump from the paranormal genre to contemporary romance is a success. I look forward to Every Little Kiss, book 2, due out in March 2015 which features Sam’s sister, Emma.
Today, we have one copy of this book up for grabs! To enter, just leave a comment. Open to US only. I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday.