I received this book for free from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Worth the Wait by Lori Foster
Published by Harlequin Books on July 25th 2017
Barnes & Noble
Ready or not…love will find a way
Single dad Hogan Guthrie is getting his life back on track, and working as the "barbecue master" at a local diner is just a temporary detour. He and restaurant owner Violet Shaw constantly butt heads…until one night they end up mingling other parts instead. Hogan thought he had the recipe for happiness all figured out. But loyal, carefree Violet is daring him to trust his impulses…and see just how sweet small-town living—and loving—can be.
Nathan Hawley traded his SWAT team credentials for a sheriff's badge, but a gorgeous new neighbor is shaking up his orderly life. Nathan has a hunch there's more to Brooklin Sweet than meets the eye—but given her caution about getting involved, he has his work cut out for him. Still, there's something about the elusive beauty Nathan can't walk away from—and helping her come to terms with her past might pave the way to the future they both secretly long for.
I love that we actually get two full romance stories in this book. Hogan and Violet have been half in love with each other since Violet moved to town, and Nathan and Brooklin meet here. Actually, I guess you could even say there are two and a half here because Hogan’s teenage son Colt also gets a serious girlfriend and we watch that unfold as well.
Hogan and Violet are attracted to each other but neither of them wants to act on it. Hogan because he’s still gun-shy after his wife’s betrayal and death, Violet because she doesn’t really have time for a relationship right now, and even if she did, someone with the reputation of a player, like Hogan, isn’t what she has in mind. However, since Hogan has been moonlighting at Violet’s restaurant, Screwy Louie’s, as the resident grill master, they’re not able to fight their attraction for long.
I think Hogan’s reputation was more due to being in a small town than in the actual number or women he had sex with. From what I was able to tell, there were a few, but not really that many. Small towns, though, amiright? And you know what? He’s allowed. He was married, and faithful, to a woman who cheated on him multiple times, then cleaned out all of their bank accounts, including their son’s college fund, and took off. She died in a car accident as she was taking off, so Hogan has some pretty conflicted feelings about all of it. If he wants to deal with it by engaging in some fully-consensual, no-strings sex, more power to him.
Violet is concerned about this, though. She has no time in her life for a man who’s going to hit it and quit it. But she doesn’t have time for a relationship. So she does want a guy she can just have sex with when she needs it. Clearly, she’s not quite sure what she wants. Well, she knows she wants Hogan. And part of her wants a relationship with him. The other part of her wants to focus on her restaurant, and growing her business, and knows she doesn’t have time for a relationship. I liked this part of Violet. We’re all conflicted. We all want two or more things that conflict with each other. We all want things we know we shouldn’t. It’s what makes us human. Inner turmoil.
I really liked these two as a couple. Hogan doesn’t love his reputation as a “hounddog”, and he’s not proud of it. But like all of us who have done things we’re not proud of (i.e. all of us), the only thing he can do is put it behind him and change his behavior. He’s committed to doing that, and he’s committed to making Violet see how good they can be together. He loves her, and he loves the business that she’s built, and he’s so proud of her for making it work. He wants to help her make it better, and to be a part of it. He doesn’t want to take it over or push her out. He’s genuinely supportive.
Violet, though, is used to doing things on her own. She’s never had anyone to help her, and it’s not until she has to give in to a bout of pneumonia and she’s forced to slow down that she begins to see she can accept help. It doesn’t make her weak; in fact, it makes her, and her business, stronger to let Hogan and Colt in, and let them help her and listen to some of their ideas for expanding and improving. She’s had it in her head that even listening to the suggestions they made meant she wasn’t in full control, and she couldn’t take that. Hogan and Colt finally wore her down, though.
Speaking of Colt, the relationship Violet built with him was charming. Like most good parents, Hogan had tried to keep the worst of his wife’s faults from Colt, but there was no hiding the fact that his entire college fund was gone. Colt had to completely re-plan his life to include not going to the Ivy League school he wanted to, and had been able to, and instead to go to a local college and work to help his dad pay for it. But he was completely on board with his dad’s relationship with Violet, even before Hogan himself was. And his relationship with Charish is cute to watch. He seems like he’s going to be a really great boyfriend, even as young as he is, if he can just actively make time for her. Between finishing high school (early) and working to earn money for college, he doesn’t have a lot of spare time.
Nathan Hawley, ex-SWAT, and current sheriff of Clearbrook, Ohio, is immediately intrigued by the new woman in town. Brooklin clearly wants nothing to do with him or anyone else in her new home, and he can’t turn down a mystery. He’s determined to break through her many, many barriers and get to know her.
I liked the relationship between Nathan and Brooklin, but her story didn’t fully work for me. Lori Foster used her backstory to try and introduce a suspense element to the book, and I just didn’t think it quite worked. I didn’t think it needed to be there, and the resolution was a little silly. I give Lori Foster credit for not using the old “controlling ex-boyfriend shows up to reclaim his property” trope to introduce the suspense, but I didn’t think this one really worked, either. I would have liked this Nathan and Brooklin’s story without it; I just didn’t think it added anything.
The other element that I didn’t love was Hogan’s boss. He moonlights at Screwy Louie’s, but he has a day job as an accountant. His boss, Joni, is constantly hitting on him, practically stalking him. She shows up at Screwy Louie’s one night and has a completely irrational hissy fit, ending up firing Hogan. I have no idea if Lori Foster plans to use her at all later in this series (if the series continues), but here she was a caricature – no development or depth to her at all.
Bottom line, I thought the romances in this book were really charming. All of the characters were well-developed, although I would have liked to know a little more about Charish. But the relationships and the stories were well-written and believable. I didn’t need the pushy, stalkery boss, or the suspense plot, but I’d still recommend this book to anyone who enjoys small-town romances. This is the 2nd in the series, but I haven’t read the first and I had no problem following along, so you don’t need to read Don’t Tempt Me to read and enjoy this one.