Series: Copper Ridge #1
Published by HQN Books on April 1st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Sadie Miller is going home to Copper Ridge for the first time since she ran out in the middle of the night ten years ago. She’s spent those ten years running from place to place, unable to face her demons long enough to really make a go of it anywhere. But her work as a crisis counselor has shown her that she needs to do this. She needs to go home and face her past before she can move on. She’s signed a five-year lease and has plans to open a B&B.
Her past comes to greet her almost before she crosses the county line when her car breaks down. It arrives in the form of Deputy Sheriff Eli Garrett. Eli is the cop who arrested her when she was a teenager right before she hightailed it out of town.
This is the second book recently I’ve struggled with in the beginning but am so glad I stuck it out. My biggest problem in the beginning was Eli. He was such a curmudgeon. Every time Sadie thought about how gorgeous he was it took me out of the story because I kept picturing him as an old man shaking his cane and yelling for the kids to get off his lawn. Every time she mentioned his abs or ass, I was reminded that he was only thirty-ish and it threw me every single time. Sadie “The weather is sure nice.” Eli: “Well, I arrested you once when you were a teenager, so you’re trouble and need to get out of my town.” Sadie “I’m really excited about this B&B. I have a lot of great ideas.” Eli: “You have a criminal record from this thing that happened when you were a teenager, so you can’t have good ideas and you need to leave my town.” Those are obviously not exact quotes, but that’s how it went for most of the first half of the book. I was ready to put it down and move on, but I wanted to wait at least until they got together. I wanted to see if Yates could convince me of these two as a couple. I’ve never read anything by her, so I really didn’t know if it could be done.
Boy, howdy, could it be done. The second half of this book was so, so good. No more putting it down and talking myself into picking it back up. I think I read the entire second half in one sitting. Eli and Sadie are each exactly what the other needed. They both recognize their own faults and call each other out on their bullshit as well. Sadie and Eli both think that their path through life was the right one, and that the other did the wrong thing. Sadie by leaving, and Eli by staying. Neither of them knows the other’s entire stories, and watching them really discover each other and unload some of that baggage was wonderful. There’s something in Sadie’s past that she sort of blames Eli for, even though she knows there wasn’t actually anything that he could have done about it. She recognizes and acknowledges this contradiction and Eli lets her have it. People are complicated. They don’t always make sense, and a lot of authors are so busy trying to make their characters perfect that they forget that.
They both try so hard to stick with the “sex-only” mantra they both claimed to want so much. Eli is better about outwardly sticking to it. He’s been a rule-follower since he was a kid and is used to saying he’s going to do a thing and doing it. He and Sadie are only going to have sex, so in the beginning, that’s exactly how it goes. As soon as they’re done, he’s up and out the front door. They always go to Sadie’s because his home is too neat and orderly and he still sees her as a whirling dervish, someone he doesn’t want there messing everything up. He so clearly wants her there, but just can’t bring himself to admit that he wants her and the chaos he’s convinced follows her everywhere. There’s a woman named Lydia who clearly had a crush on him, and in his mind, would be a better fit. She’s steady, reliable, and cares about the community as much as he does. But he never even considers asking her out. Sadie’s the only one he wants, even if he refuses to admit it to himself. He’s such a rule-follower because in his mind, rules and guidelines are the only things that make a difference in the world. But he wants to let go so badly. He wants to forget about all of them and just let himself feel for a change. He can’t do it, but he wants to.
“I see. So emotions are irrational.” “Hell yes,” he said. “Emotions are damned irrational.”
Sadie is as convinced they need to be sex-only as he is, but hers comes more from an assumption that he’ll leave her like everyone else does. But she recognizes her growing feelings a lot earlier than Eli and realizes that their relationship is becoming more before he does. She decides to just go with it rather than have a big conversation about it. It works, initially anyway. Eli is clearly falling her and just as clearly fighting it, but Sadie does her best to break through that stubborn, self-righteous attitude of his and convince him they are real and worth the trouble he seemed convinced would follow if he allowed himself to be happy. In his mind, as soon as he stops taking care of everyone around him, the world will fall apart. He genuinely thinks that he’s the only thing keeping Copper Ridge floating, and is willing to sacrifice his own emotional life in order for everyone else to be safe. Sadie tries so hard to make him see that he deserves to be happy, too.
Obviously, there’s a scene toward the end where they break up. This happens in every romance novel, and rarely do I do anything but get through it to see who’s going to grovel and how it will be done. This break up broke my heart along with both Eli’s and Sadie’s. The whole thing was so true to Eli’s character, and it was so hard to see him realizing just how close he’d come to everything he’d wanted, only to have something happen to prove to him that he’d been right all along and wasn’t meant for happiness.
There are a few open story lines that I really hope show up in the next book/s in the series. There’s a woman named Alison who’s trying to get out of a shitty situation, and Lydia, who I mentioned above, who really needs her own book. And I am really looking forward to the next book in the series. Connor, Eli’s brother, is the hero, and apparently his best friend will be the heroine, and I love best-friends-to-lovers stories. If Yates was able to make me like Eli so much. I can’t imagine what she’ll be able to do with Connor.