Reviewed by Tori
Mackenzie (Mac) Walker has a pretty good life. A thriving business, good friends, and all her siblings have found their happily ever afters. She once had her own happily ever after but he left her and never looked back. Now, ten years later, he has come home. He wants to pick up where they left off but Mac has closed that chapter of her life.
Alexander (Zan) Elliott lost his best friend and lover when he left home to follow his dreams. He doesn’t regret his disappearing act but he does regret hurting Mac. Home only to settle his grandfather’s estate and then leaving again, he sees the changes in Mac and wants to know what happened to the sunny, carefree girl he left behind.
As Zan tries to regain Mac’s trust, the feelings between them reignite the passion and love they had together so long again. But Mac knows Zan is leaving again and will do everything possible to make sure this time he doesn’t leave with her heart.
Keep On Loving You is a second chance romance that promises a lot but for me didn’t deliver. The beginning is promising. A woman sees her first love at her sister’s wedding. The man who walked away from her ten years ago and never looked back. She doesn’t fall at his feet or try to push to recreate the past. She treats him like a person she used to love and now no longer does. Which is to be expected. There is anger, frustration, and pain in her actions and voice. She can sort of understand why he left but can’t understand or forgive that he never came home. All she got from him was a series of postcards over the years signed with a Z.
I really liked Mac. She’s a strong, loyal, take charge woman whose heart was broken but she survived. She took over as head of the household when her parents died and focuses most of her attention of the happiness of her siblings, making sure that unlike her, they will get everything they desire out of life. Strong on love but not money, she started her own business and is forever looking for ways to make more. Living in a town where everyone discusses the “legend of Zan and Mac” like it happened yesterday, I really felt for her. She claims her love for him is why she hasn’t moved on but there is much more to it than that. There is also the fact that no one will let her forget her first love so she can’t move on.
As the story evolves, the pacing gradually slows to a limp and drags its way to the end. Ridgeway does a good job providing the background for this couple; letting us see how they were in the past and their future potential. There is a solid base on which to build this story-the problem is the hero. Zan never developed for me. I never felt, even at the very end, that we ever got to know him. The emotional connections never surfaced. He felt like he was place setting in the script. We are told throughout the book how he feels about things but there are no real scenes given to show it. He didn’t seem to have a wide range of emotions.
The dialogue between Zan and everyone further intensified my ambivalent feelings towards him. Everything that comes out of his mouth is almost in code and he is the master of deflecting. While we can feel just how deeply Mac was hurt over Zan’s actions and the way it stunted her ability to form any other romantic connections, Zan remained locked up tight. No matter how many times Mac tries to get answers from him, he just brushes aside her concerns and works on trying to get her into bed. He wants everything to be like it was 10 years ago and couldn’t seem to understand that time didn’t stand still when he left. That no one stopped what they were doing to wait till he decided to grace them with his presence. And the whole time he’s sending conflicting messages by telling her he’s leaving again while acting confused and hurt she struggles against wanting to reconnect with him. Overall, I found him selfish and dense. So very, very dense. The postcards were the most powerful indicator into his mindset. He didn’t love her enough to stay but he made sure she could never, ever forgot him.
The story is saved from complete failure, somewhat, by the Walker family. They are all getting married and we are included in their lives as they plan, live, and love. The feeling of family is strong and that is part of the lesson Zan needed to learn. All the Walkers, with the exception of Mac and her older brother Brett, welcome Zan back with open arms. They missed him and the possibility of him staying for Mac makes them push them for a reconciliation even though they are not in possession of all the facts. They bring a small amount of humor and excitement to this story that it is desperately missing when the focus in on the main protagonists. There is also a small side romance that was stronger and produced a stronger emotion from me than the main romance.
The ending is nothing more than a single lightbulb moment where Zan finally gets it. Zan finally admits his feelings and does what he should have done years ago and Mac finally gets her happily ever after. I only wish she could have found it with someone else who actually deserved her.