AUTHOR: KAREN STIVALI
Details: Received from Samhain Publishing
Own / Kindle
When love throws you a curve, swing for the fences.
Parker Wood’s dreams of becoming a professional baseball player are shattered when he’s injured in a devastating car crash. After two years in hospitals and physical rehab facilities, he’s ready to move back to his childhood home and take over the family landscaping company. The house and business are his, now that his father has passed.
Sophie Vaughn has suffered through a hellishly public divorce from a husband who couldn’t manage to stay faithful for two months of marriage. Determined not to let her personal drama impact her successful wedding and party planning business, she buys her parents’ old house, hoping the comfort of familiar surroundings will help her heal.
When Parker and Sophie discover they’re neighbors once again, it’s as if time has stood still. Their friendship is quickly rekindled, along with the decade-long crush neither of them ever admitted having. Then the heat between them exposes a long-held secret that threatens to tear them apart…unless they can detach from their painful pasts and move forward—together.
Warning: Contains sultry summer nights, steamy pool-side encounters, and you’ll never look at a jar of peanut butter the same way again.
People following my reviews will know that I do not like protracted drama. I love it when the characters in a (love)story have issues they need to deal with. I enjoy the tension a misunderstanding can create for the characters as well as for the reader. What I have a hard time reading are books in which the issues aren’t really issues, or where the problems seem to appear out of nowhere. And what I dislike most are characters drawing the issues out for chapters on end when just a simple conversation would have cleared the whole thing up. How wonderful that Karen Stivali managed to avoid all my pet hates. Yes there was drama, in fact both Parker and Sophie have issues with trust. But, as the backstory shows, both of them have every reason to feel insecure, good reasons for having trouble trusting each other. It was so good to see Sophie and Parker encounter difficulties and deal with them immediately.
Parker and Sophie felt like real people to me, the sort of people you might meet and befriend. They are both basically good and yet there is nothing saintly about them. They aren’t perfect, and are not described to make them appear as such. They are perfect for each other though just as they were perfect for this story and perfect for this reader.
There were one or two moments in this book that made me all warm and happy. When Sophie sees Parker’s scars and he flinches because he thinks they are ugly to look at, she says:
“I kinda like them...They remind me that you’re still alive.”
Another moment that really got to me, for a multitude of reasons I won’t go into right now, was when Parker, Sophie and Joey are in the garden, just like old times, and Parker says:
“To old friends making new memories.”
After which Sophie reflects that:
“New memories sounded like a great idea.”
The whole book is melt worthy, but when Parker and Sophie danced to “Wonderful Tonight” I was almost reduced to a puddle, that song being the one the husband and I opened the dancing during our post-wedding party with.
But the best line in this book was found very near the end.
“All of that is nothing but the past. You’re my future. My whole future.”
Now, before anybody thinks that the book I’ve just reviewed is a fluffy and rather chaste run of the mill romance, I’d better add that this is one hot story. The relationship between Parker and Sophie goes from charmingly innocent and insecure to steaming in just a few pages of highly imaginative lovemaking. It is proof of just how wonderful an author Karen Stivali is that she manages to strike exactly the right balance between story and steam. It is good to know that Mrs. Stivali has more books to her name than the two I’ve read by her so far. I can easily see her join ranks with Nora Roberts and become one of my go-to authors when I’m stuck in a (reading) rut or in need of some instant cheering up.
Related review: Decadence