Reviewed by Helyce
From Goodreads: Evan Downey needs a new beginning. Since the death of his wife five years ago, the brilliant tattoo artist has shut himself away in a prison of grief that not even his work can break him out of-and what’s worse, Evan knows his son Lyon is bearing the brunt of his seclusion. Moving back to the lake town of Evergreen Cove where he spent his childhood summers is his last chance for a fresh start.
Charlotte Harris knows she owes it to her best friend’s memory to help Evan and his son find their way again, but she can’t stop her traitorous heart from skipping a beat every time she looks into Evan’s mesmerizing eyes. Charlotte is determined to stay strictly in the Friend Zone-until a mind-blowing night knocks that plan by the wayside. Now, if they’re brave enough to let it, Charlotte and Evan might just find a love capable of healing their broken hearts .
This was a beautiful love story that focused on life for those left behind after a loved one dies. Evan has been living with his grief for years and it is likely that the only thing that kept him going was having to raise his young son Lyon. But after years of living in the house where he held his wife as she died in his arm, it was time for a change. His decision to move to back to the small lake town where he’d spent his summers is not made lightly. His wife’s best friend, Charlie, lives there and she’d been a huge part of their lives always and had been very helpful with Lyon since Rae’s death. Evan needs to shake it up, make a change and start to live again and get back to his art. He’s hoping that this move will kick start his muse.
I really liked Evan. He misses his wife, but he’s accepted that she’s gone and that he needs to move forward in a positive way both for his son and for himself. His move to the small lake town is a step in that direction. But in private moments, he’s still dealing with some very deep grief and uncertainty and it pours out of him in his paintings which are dark and sad. He knows he needs to break out of this cycle, but it’s hard.
I liked Charlie as well. She’d been Rae’s best friend, and even though she’d noticed Evan first that long ago summer, Evan had chosen Rae. Charlie was okay with that, because she loved them both and she knew how happy they made each other. The loss of Rae was as hard on Charlie as it was on Evan and in this shared grief, Evan and Charlie were forever bound.
When Evan moves to Evergreen Cove, Charlie is committed to helping in any way possible, especially with Lyon who she loves with all her heart. But it’s not long before both Evan and Charlie are seeing each other without their blinders on.
I adored Evan here as he began to playfully woo Charlie. Moving out of the friendship zone was not too much of a stretch for Evan. But for Charlie it was more difficult. At first her little apologies of “sorry Rae” whispered softly under her breath as she and Evan began to explore their attraction to each other was cute but after a bit Charlie’s indecisiveness got a little annoying. I liked how the author portrayed Charlie and I’m glad it wasn’t easy for her to just jump in and and be with Evan–but after a bit it kind of felt unnecessary.
There is a lot of humor within the story brought about by a spectacular cast of secondary characters. From Charlie’s girlfriends Faith and Sophie who kind of ground her while at the same time gently pushing her toward Evan-to Evan’s friend Asher and his business manager Gloria. Evan and Asher met and became friends during those lazy summer vacations in their teens and Asher has made it big in his own rock band. The chemistry between Asher and Gloria jumps off the page and I cannot wait to see what happens with them.
I liked the author’s voice in this first book in her new series. There is good balance as we meet everyone, but we are not overwhelmed with so much backstory the focus on main H/H is lost. There is plenty to tease and make you want more and I definitely look forward to more!