Scarlet Reed has returned to Polson Falls, convinced that twelve years away is long enough to shed her humiliating childhood identity as the town harlot’s daughter. With a teaching job secured and an adorable fixer-upper to call home, things in her life are finally looking up.
That is, until she finds out that Shane Beckett lives next door.
Shane Beckett, the handsome and charismatic high school star quarterback who smashed her heart. The lying, cheating player who was supposed to be long gone, living the pro football dream and fooling women into thinking he’s Prince Charming. Shane Beckett, who is as attractive as ever and flashing his dimples at her as if he has done no wrong.
Scarlet makes it abundantly clear that old wounds have not been forgotten. Neighbors they may be, but friends they most certainly are not. She won’t allow herself to fall for the single father and firefighter again, no matter how many apologies he offers, how many times he rushes to her aid, or how hard he makes her heart pound.
But as she spends more time with him, she begins to fear that maybe she’s wrong. Maybe Shane has changed.
And maybe this time she’s the one playing herself—out of a chance at true happiness.
This one definitely feels different from the other works I’ve read by Tucker. Not only is it quite a bit steamier, I felt like the emotional depth of the stories and characters wasn’t quite what it usually is in her stories. There were things I liked about it though and it was a good option when I was looking for an easy summer escape read.
Scarlet Reed and Shane Beckett briefly dated the summer before their senior year in high school. From the flashback scenes, you can tell they were immensely smitten with each other. So when Shane abruptly breaks up with Scarlet right before their senior year starts, it comes as a bit of a shock to Scarlet, and inevitably changes her. When she moves back to her hometown to start work as a teacher, she’s surprised to find herself living to none other than Shane Beckett himself.
I am a mixed bag of feelings on this one. There were things I really enjoyed and other things I could have done without. I loved seeing Shane as a dad. I wish we had gotten more of that as well as him and Cody with Scarlet. It would have been great to see them all interacting more. Either way, it was clear how much he valued his role as Cody’s father and how important his son was to him. Cody seemed like such a great kid, too. The evil ex-girlfriend trope is not one I particularly like, so that grated on me a bit.
Scarlet really held onto her grief and hurt from high school. Approximately 12 years had passed, so to me, I felt like she should have been a bit more passed the hurt and betrayal. I do understand how moving away from the people you grow up around, growing and maturing away from them, and then moving back can cause much inner turmoil. You want to show that you’re not the same as you were, but these people see you as you were because they haven’t seen you grow and change. So, Scarlet was dealing with that, showing others she is not like her mother, plus finding herself living next to the guy who broke her heart. It’s a lot. I get that.
Once Scarlet and Shane do decide to forgive and move on from the past, they still aren’t sure if anything should happen between them. There are some added complications in the story which make it perhaps unwise for the two of them to start up a relationship again. Once they do decide to give a romantic relationship another try, their ‘taking it slow’ lasts for about 1 page. I guess I was expecting them to have a little bit more self-control and clear heads. If they didn’t want to take it slow, then that’s fine. But giving in so easily, after Scarlet was so apprehensive to get together again, baffled me. I did feel like a lot of their admiration for each other was physically-based. I wanted more of their hearts and why they were attracted to each other outside of what the other looked like.
So, like I said, a bit of a mixed bag for me. If you’re looking for an easy, quick, moderately steamy read for a summer escape, then this one may be a good fit for you.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
MEET THE AUTHOR: K.A. TUCKER
K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.
She is the USA Today bestselling author of 17 books, including the Causal Enchantment, Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, and The Simple Wild. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, First for Women, and Publisher’s Weekly. She has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance 2013 for TEN TINY BREATHS and Best Romance 2018 for THE SIMPLE WILD. Her novels have been translated into 16 languages.
K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her family.
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