Reviewed by Helyce
From Goodreads: Molly Burnett dreads returning to her hometown of Hope for her sister’s wedding, especially knowing she’ll have to endure a weekend with the one man she never wants to see again. It’s only a couple of days, so Molly will try to forget her painful past with high school sweetheart Carter Richards. Because despite the bitter memories, she still can’t forget what they once meant to each other.
But when Molly is forced to extend her stay, Carter sees this as his second chance to do things right, to start over again with the only woman he’s ever loved. This time, he isn’t going to let Molly run. Together they’re going to confront the past and put it behind them, and hope for a future as bright as the flame that still burns hot between them.
You know when you’re watching TV and a trailer for a movie is played and you think to yourself, “that looks really good; I really want to see it.” And every time you catch that movie trailer or hear a promo on the radio, you remind yourself that you want to see it. You make plans with friends for opening night, anticipation and excitement high. But after actually seeing the movie you’re disappointed, the movie not meeting your expectations at all! The movie trailer’s promise having not delivered in any way. That was this book for me.
I was beyond thrilled to get Carter’s book so early in the series. The build up of his supposed past with Molly Burnett in the previous two books hinted at some kind of huge love in a way that promised a secret being revealed and a second chance at true love-a favorite trope of mine. While we had gotten to know Carter a bit over books one and two, he had already held a special place in my heart and it was clear that for whatever reason and despite his ‘way with the ladies’ there was something special between him and Molly and we were aching to find out the what and why of it all.
The ‘what’ was a teenage romance, so strong and intense, the young couple believed they were destined for forever. An unplanned pregnancy only cemented their feelings toward each other, marriage and family a given. Until Molly miscarries and their relationship falls apart because neither knows how to deal with the loss. Carter-young and totally unprepared for his emotions not to mention everything Molly was going through, moves forward with plans for college etc., while Molly shuts down into herself and leaves town vowing never to return again.
I had a couple big issues with Molly’s storyline. First, it is clear that Molly and her sister Emma come from a loving family with involved parents. I totally understand a young woman keeping a pregnancy a secret from her parents out of fear and disappointing her parents, but once there was a miscarriage why wouldn’t she tell her mother or her sister? There was no indication that she would have received anything less than love and support. Instead of taking time to grieve her loss with those who clearly love her, she runs away and never looks back. Molly shuts Carter out and then blames him when he goes off to college and is able to ‘move on’ with his life. I don’t want to sound harsh. I have two healthy children and cannot speak to the emotions a woman faces when losing a child via miscarriage or otherwise. I don’t want to come off as insensitive because I know it would be devastating. But in this instance and for this fictional story it didn’t work for me. Molly made a choice to deal with her grief in the way that she did, by running and alienating her family and choosing never to return to Hope. Perhaps that was what she needed as a young woman unable to deal with her loss, but as she got older and her family repeatedly reached out to her and wanted to welcome her home, well, her continued rejection of their love and support was her choice.
Second, Molly was just unlikable to me. At every opportunity she can’t wait to state that “she’s outta here” or “I’m leaving the first chance I get”. Go already! You don’t want to be here, just go! But then, we wouldn’t get the second chance at love that was promised, would we. When Molly’s mom has an accident and she’s forced to stay in Hope to help care for her, Molly and Carter find their way back to each other. But I had already decided I didn’t like Molly and I didn’t want her for Carter.
Secondary characters, especially Carter’s friend Bash and Emma and Molly’s friend Chelsea make for some humorous and lighthearted moments. I find Bash intriguing and hope his story will be up next. This is not a bad story and it’s probably my own fault for building up Carter in my head and having a certain expectation for his story. The disappointment is of my own making. There are moments where I was almost convinced I could be okay with how it would go-because we want that happily ever after, right? Unfortunately, no amount of redemption or forgiveness was going to make me okay with Molly.