Reviewed by Helyce
Favorite Quote: “Not all those who wander are lost…”
Dax Vaughn is really looking forward to some rustic quality alone time. After losing his dad, and dealing with the aftermath, he just needed a break and some time to get his head together and reevaluate his life. He heads down to Grand Lark Retreat in Tennessee for two weeks of communing with nature. He plans to hike, fish, and camp and he plans to do it alone. He chose Grand Lark specifically for these purposes and requested a cabin that was secluded to afford him that sense of being one with nature.
Becca Stone works at Grand Lark….for the time being. Her brother runs the business, but Becca knows as much about it as he does, though you’d never know it by the way he treats her. Becca is a rolling stone and doesn’t stay in one place for too long. She’s searching for herself and moves around trying different things in order find what’s missing…what would make her happy, what would make her feel complete. At the moment, though, she finds herself home and working for her brother, as well as living with him while she, once again, tries to decide what her next move will be.
When the rain turns into a major storm and makes some of the roads impassable, Dax learns that he’ll have to stay at a different cabin for the time being. Becca is only too happy to show him where it is and help him get settled. Not exactly what Dax had in mind for his rustic weekend, but he can adapt.
Dax had a small recurring role in the first two books in this series as he is the owner of the bar featured in those books. I pictured him as sort of an older recluse of a man who owned the bar, but had hired good people to run it so that he didn’t have to be present for the day-to-day operations. I was very wrong. Dax is in his early 30s and freaking hot, not at all what I pictured. And while he did hire people who could manage day-to-day operations, his reasons for being absent were not due to disinterest. Dax’s father had passed away, and he was dealing with that loss, and helping his mom through it. This much needed vacation was planned for him to have some time to himself to sort through everything and get back to his life and his goals. But the weather did not cooperate and meeting Becca was certainly not part of the plan at all.
Becca is back home, living with and working for her brother, who thinks she’s the biggest flake in the world. Becca has been trying find herself and her niche in the world for a while. She’s moved around, tried different things, but nothing has really felt like a good fit. Broke, she returns home to once again get back on her feet until she can figure out her next move.
I really liked Dax. He lost a lot of the mysteriousness that I’d given him when reading the first two books. Smart, with some really good business savvy, he’s also very charming, funny, with just a little bit of vulnerability to round him out. I loved his personality and the relationship he had with his mom. When he meets Becca, he’s definitely attracted to her and a vacation hook-up while not planned, was certainly not out of the question.
I took a little while longer to warm up to Becca. It’s clear that she’s not in the best place as far as where she’d imagine herself to be and I understood her reasoning behind a lot of what she did, how she treated Dax and their time together having an expiration date. Even though they seemed to have a very strong connection, she didn’t trust it and wasn’t willing to reevaluate anything as their time together went on. This was frustrating to me. To be in her head at intimate moments and know that she was feeling so much, but unwilling to trust and believe in it. She didn’t even really allow herself to hope, which was a bit of a downer for me.
At the same time, I could understand it. Becca’s family didn’t really understand her. Her brother Tad treated her like she was incompetent and she was far from it–but it’s one of those things where after people treat you a certain way for a while, you begin to think that there might be some truth to it. I think that’s where Becca was at this time. Her uncertainty about herself and her goals were fueled by her family’s response to her.
Once these two set the “rules” for Dax’s two week vacation, they are pretty much inseparable, but while Dax begins to think about a future with Becca in it, Becca is sticking to the rules. I kept hoping that she’d see herself through Dax’s eyes. Things change for her when her brother offers her more say in the business, especially on the kitchen side with menu planning–as Becca has shown she has a natural talent for cooking.
Jessica Lemmon has become a go to for me when it comes to my contemporary romance reading. I love her voice and her characters are real, with insecurities and flaws. I liked how it was Dax that put himself out there, was the first to lay his cards on the table and attempt to renege on the “we have this for two weeks” plan; and you could really feel the tension and want that Becca struggled with. You know she wants to drop everything and follow her heart-but that little voice in her head won’t let her.
Warm, sexy and humorous, with characters that draw you in, you’ll find yourself rooting for Dax and Becca throughout this story. Secondary characters make brief appearances to fill in some of the spaces, but for the most part this is truly Dax and Becca’s story.