Every time I pick up an Annie Rains book, I know I am going to end my day smiling. In this case, as I read, my emotions ranged from happy to sad to heartbroken back to happy again. There's something about the way that she writes that just speaks to something deep within, like she has peeked inside me and then written a story that I can relate to. It sounds dramatic, but I genuinely feel that she can do this for any read out there. All of her characters are relatable and genuine, and she puts in little aspects in the story that make it shine in a subtle yet brilliant way. Like the neighbor who used to be a nudist and like to relive his youth early in the morning, sleeping nude on the beach. Our heroine has to go wake him up, to make sure he doesn't disturb anyone. It becomes routine, they become friends, and it feels so real. It's small, but it's a constant in the story that brings a smile to my face. It's things like that which make a story go from great to memorable.
Having left Sweetwater Springs just one month earlier, Trisha Langly is still settling in to her new life as property manager of the Somerset Rental Cottages. Having left the memory of her ex-husband and his criminal deeds behind, she hopes to make a new life for her and her son, in a place where no one knows them or their past. She loves her work and her boss, Vi, so when Vi's grandson, Jake Fletcher, arrives, she reluctantly agrees to work with him to restore the cottages to their former glory. Jake, however, has an ulterior motive - he's been tasked by his family to convince Vi to sell and move to Florida. Growing up in Somerset Lake has brought back both good memories and painful ones, and he has no intention of staying any longer than he has to. But as he works together with Trisha, he's reminded of all that he has been missing...and a future that awaits him if he stays. Secrets have a way of coming out though, and when Jake and Trisha discover them, it will take trust and hope to bring them together again.
This is a spin-off of the Sweetwater Springs series, and I have to say it is starting off splendidly. Trisha is a character introduced in previous books, and so I already felt a sort of kinship with her and her son. I wanted them to be okay and to thrive in their new home. It was hard to see how much anxiety she had around people knowing the truth about her husband, and she struggled so much to keep her son happy while also keeping him safe from the opinions of others. Jake didn't know her secret at first, and I was worried that would cause a problem later on in the story. However, the thing about Jake was a genuinely sweet and loving person. He loved kids, had an adorable dog, and wanted his grandmother to be happy. Despite the pain of his past, he found himself falling for Trisha, and my heart ached for them when they had to navigate past obstacles that kept them from seeing their potential as a couple. I actually started to cry at one point, and I rarely cry when I read. But Annie Rains is just that good, because I became so emotionally invested in the characters that their pain became my own. As soon as I put this book down, I knew it would be a favorite of mine for the year.
I am so looking forward to what is next for the Somerset Lake community! The next book is a Christmas romance, and I can't wait to start the holidays off right with an Annie Rains book.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**