Reviewed by Mandi
When this review request came through, the blurb caught my attension
Aaron Clairmont has been granted an early parole. He returns home to Nickel Springs and finds employment at Abstract Enchantment, a trendy new inn. But Aaron’s mind can’t let go of its predecessor, the vintage Rose Arch Inn, the setting for his passionate love affair with Ruby Vasquez. Ruby—the girl he lost after his secret underworld life unraveled, shocking everyone who thought they knew him.
Freedom comes fast at Aaron—a family desperate to reconnect, an employer cast as his savior, and the steamy memories he can’t escape. Just as Aaron surrenders to starting anew, he realizes the diabolical trap he’s been lured into—a fresh hell that makes prison look like a country club. Lives are at stake, his family and Ruby’s. Ruby Vasquez—the woman Aaron never thought he’d see again. The one destined to collide with his future.
I love a hero who has been in prison. Or at least most prison heroes. I didn’t find a lot to like in this book unfortunately. Ruby and Aaron fall in love hard and fast when they are young adults. Fast forward 7 years, we learn after a hard and fast love affair with Ruby, Aaron was being a naughty boy behind the scenes. Deep into drug trafficking and accepting a hit to kill Ruby’s father who was the mayor, he gets arrested before he can go through with the murder. He gets sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempted murder and other drug things. Due to overpopulation and such, he gets out after 7.
He goes back home to his siblings (his parents are dead) and tries to get his life back together. He of course has thought about Ruby every day he has been in jail, even thinking how unfair his forced celibacy has been while she has been out there sleeping with guys. (poor dude! not).
Then the story abruptly shifts to a new character we meet named Stefan. Stefan is a rich guy who has bought an interest in an abandoned inn on an island near where Aaron and Ruby grew up. Outside this inn is where Aaron and Ruby first have sex, so it holds significance to Aaron. Stefan is a slimeball you learn early on. Unfortunately, we get “treated” to at least two explicit sex scenes with him and a woman named Vanessa. Stefan is the villain in this book – it’s pretty obvious right from the start. He is a creeper – and I realllllllly didn’t want to read about him having sex. I’m not sure why we had to – it didn’t make sense to me. I don’t want to read creeper sex.
Anyway – After chapter one, which is a flashback to Ruby and Aaron and their first time having sex, Ruby doesn’t make another appearance in the book until the halfway mark. At that point I was very curious to how this HEA was going to play out. I mean, Aaron tried to kill her father – and Ruby has been MIA for half the book. What was going to happen?? Well. I don’t want to spoil too much – let’s just say Ruby comes back, engaged to another man. Oh! And I forgot to mention that Aaron gets hired by Stefan to help renovate the inn. And then Ruby shows up with her fiance at this inn and sees Aaron. To my dismay, they have a humping session the first day they see each other. What about the attempted murder charge??? Or the lying?? Or the drug deals?? By day two, her and Aaron are at it again and all of a sudden she realizes she loves Aaron and runs back to the inn to end her engagement so she can be with Aaron.
As Kenny Rogers sings, Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to Aaron (or something like that *wink*)
And then at the 75% mark other twists happen and I stopped reading. I found the plot to be ridiculous. Stefan creeped me out and he had a ton of page time. When Ruby comes back in the second half of the book, she is a completely different person than when we first meet her. I did not believe she would run back to Aaron the way she did.