Title: Always the Hero
Author: Anna J. Stewart
Anna J. Stewart's Harlequin Romance Always the Hero is a pleasing story based in a small-town, Butterfly Harbor.
Deputy Matt Knight hasn't been around for long and is struggling with lingering issues from his past, trying to make a fresh start.
When the story starts, he has already made mistakes in his relationship with Lori Bradley. There is a charm in Matt's struggle to do the right thing, as his intentions are always good, but his actions have a tendency to lead to misunderstandings.
In the author's words, Matt is "Burly, a touch of Southern good old boy and a former soldier who has seen more than his share of tragedy. He's as honorable as they come, sometimes to a fault."
Lori's life is more or less an open book for the residents of Butterfly Harbor. Struggling with her body image issues, Lori is a warm person. The author has handled Lori's insecurities sensitively, getting the message across.
Lori is not your typical romance heroine. She is not picture perfect and is a bit of a pushover.
In the process of getting the town back on its feet, Anna J. Stewart weaves a story with Sherrif's department, a difficult mayor, an upcoming festival, and more.
There are natives who have returned after years, others who are new to the community, and many who have been around all along.
This was the first book in the series that I read. When one comes across happy couples in a series, it is assumed that they have had their story, and I am sure it would be fun to get glimpses of their happy lives if has read the book in which they were the central characters.
Some have had their stories, others you can look forward to.
Always the Hero is not just a romantic story. It is also about discovering oneself, about issues of body image, confidence, the struggle of war veterans, and most of all, the charm and community feeling of a small town.
* * *
Title: Marrying the Wedding Crasher
Author: Melinda Curtis
In Melinda Curtis' Marrying the Wedding Crasher we are introduced to Harley O' Hannigan and Vince Messina away from the Harmony Valley, the small town that is the setting for this story and the series.
Harmony Valley was Vince Messina's home at one time, but he has not been back for long. He has secrets that he has kept from his family, there are lies he has told, but now he is expected to be back for his brother's wedding.
Harley O' Hannigan comes with her own baggage of secrets which have her struggling on professional and personal levels.
The fun starts when Harley agrees to attend Vince's brother's wedding as his plus-one.
Harmony Valley with it's nosy, warm and interesting residents, and with the many memories that it holds for Vince makes for a difficult place in which to pretend to be a couple.
The relationship between the two has the attraction that neither can handle which leads to tussles, and repartees, as an effort to mask the attraction.
Marrying the Wedding Crasher has you feeling the pain of a man who took up too much responsibility for his age as a kid, and continues to be crushed by it even as a grown up.
Far-fetched dreams find a parallel in the impossible architectural designs of Harley.
As Vince comes home both figuratively and literally, and as Harley finds the confidence to deal with her problems with Vince's help, Marrying the Wedding Crasher makes for an enjoyable read.
Amazon * Harlequin * Barnes & Noble
* * *
Both Always the Hero and Marrying the Wedding Crasher are small-town romances. There is both the coziness of old friends and the suffocation of everyone knowing everyone.
There is the warmth of good people and the jealousies of the mean ones.
And there is the fact that even if one lives so close and assumes that everything about everyone is known, there can be surprises.
All is not what it seems.
I read Harlequin romances after years. There is a charm to these romances. I have gone back to them often. It is like going back to the security of a story that you know won't surprise you too much. You know it will end well and there is a comfort in escaping into it.
* * *