Not all romances begin with instant attraction; some start with a misunderstanding, a false assumption, or even a bit of good old-fashioned snark. These SELF-e novels see couples who set off on the wrong foot before they find their happy ending. After all, as the Bard once said, “the course of true love never did run smooth.”
Grouse, Lili. Build Me Up. CreateSpace: Amazon. 2015. 220p. ebk. IBSN N/A. Contemporary Romance
Ford Hamm is a loyal local through and through. He turns his nose up at the influx of rich tourists who barrel through Greenport, MA, and end up staking a permanent piece of land for themselves. Unfortunately, as the only licensed heritage contractor around, he is forced to collaborate with them to preserve the essence of the town. Kristen Barnes, architect and interior designer extraordinaire, has just arrived from California to work on a housing project for the notable Quinlan Bankhead. Between the eccentric community and the many cats taking up residence at the bed and breakfast that will be her home, Kristen is experiencing a difficult adjustment. And then there’s Ford, challenging to interact with and determined not to like her on principle. As the two circle each other, trying to find common ground, they discover a mutual attraction that’s hard to ignore. VERDICT This slow-burn romance will charm its audience with doses of small-town quirks and lighthearted humor.
Jeane, Sheridan. Gambling on a Scoundrel. Flowers & Fullerton. 2014. 342p. ebk. ISBN N/A. Historical Fiction
Tempy Bliss, recently jilted by her fiancé, has dreams of furthering her career as a journalist, stuffy Victorian society and gender norms be damned. The perfect opportunity for her big break comes when Charles Dickens—yes, that Charles Dickens—assigns her an article investigating gambling for his newspaper. The story leads her to Hamlin House, a casino owned by Lucien Hamlin, who promptly bars her from looking into his establishment. His resistance only sparks Tempy’s journalistic curiosity toward the secretive businessman and his dealings. The result is two clever and engaging characters who crackle with chemistry, but a much-wanted happily ever after is prolonged by Tempy’s insistence that her former fiancé is the only man for her. VERDICT Jeane offers up a well-set historical romance with a refreshing, career-driven heroine. Readers will be cheering on Tempy’s writing endeavors, while also begging her to give Lucien a chance.
Rettstatt, Linda. Rescued. CreateSpace: Amazon. 2014. 224p. ebk. IBSN N/A. Contemporary Romance
In an effort to cope with her mother’s abandonment when she was a child, Alex Ramsey has put all of her time into rescuing stray animals and running her no-kill shelter, Harley’s Haven. That kind of dedication doesn’t come cheap, and she struggles to fund her passion with a limited budget and part-time work at her uncle’s restaurant. It’s there she has a less-than-wonderful first encounter with Evan Whiting, who has come to Mississippi to escape everything he lost back in New York—his job as a renowned chef, his wife, and his good reputation. They soon find themselves clashing over the purchase of an old lot—Alex is hoping to use the space to expand her business and save more animals, while Evan is eager to redeem himself by starting a new restaurant. At the story’s heart is Walter, an instantly endearing shepherd-collie mix who further keeps the two in each other’s orbit. VERDICT Despite some pacing issues, there is a compelling draw to Alex and Evan’s push-and-pull relationship and their complex pasts.