Book Review: When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

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Most of my choices in romance novels are relatively smooth sailing - they don't typically involve a lot of angst, the hero realizes his love for the heroine about halfway through, and there is no third act conflict. So when I started to see the reviews pouring in for this book, I was really concerned, because several people mentioned the angst, the emotionally stunted hero, and the disastrous third act conflict that had so many throwing out spoilers like they were candy at a parade. However, I really like the trope of one character nursing the other back to health, and it's so difficult to find in contemporary romance that I wanted to give this a chance. I am SO glad that I did! While I can confirm there are all those things other readers talked about, there is also a lot of genuine caring from the hero, mutual desire for affection without a lot of strings, and the groveling is top notch. You may like your romance to be without a lot of conflict, but believe me, this book may convince you that a messy romance is the best romance.

Avery Spark has known Declan since college, and as best friends, her decision to purchase a condo with him after graduation was easy. Sure, Declan brings a new woman home all the time for one night stands, but she has worked out ways to avoid seeing him naked on the couch again. He is always dependable, there for her for support whenever she needs it...until the one day he isn't. Declan McCormick has no interest in a real relationship, having watched his parents' failed marriage throughout his childhood. He thrives off his flings, with zero emotional attachment involved, and he gets to live with his best friend. Life is great...until he makes a big mistake and Avery pays the price. Now she is injured after a terrible car accident, and he is dedicated to making sure she is taken care of. But what he doesn't anticipate is the need for them to be closer than ever before, and when things get heated, the line between friends and lovers blurs. Is he ready for a real relationship with Avery, or will his past threaten to tear them apart?

I liked both Avery and Declan from the very beginning of the story. Avery is a hardworking woman, working alongside her siblings managing an event hotel for their grandmother. After a relationship in college ended with her being cheated on, she kept men at a distance, leaving room only for her male friends and the occasional disastrous date. She always thought she could count on Declan, and it was really interesting to see how their relationship changed after she got hurt. Declan was clearly in major self-flagellation mode. He was almost over the top at times in making sure she was taken care of, and it was clear that he was doing everything he could to make sure Avery knew she could still depend on him. While she blamed him for a time, she was really mature in how she handled her feelings about the accident and subsequent rehab. Things did eventually get sexual between them, and I loved seeing their relationship navigate the new waters they were entering into. Of course, nothing ever goes as smoothly as you want it too, and Declan's newfound relationship skills were tested. He went overboard in his need to hold on to Avery, and his lack of trust in her and in their love for each other became a driving force behind the third act conflict. Thankfully, Declan also had an amazing aptitude for groveling, and he did that very well. The romance was by no means smooth sailing, and it was very messy, as I stated before. But it was a realistic sort of messy that I hope we can all appreciate. People make mistakes, people change, and life goes on, sometimes better than it was before.

I look forward to reading more by this author! Definitely going to add more of her books to be my reading list.

**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**