Sometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…
Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it.
Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.
I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job.
It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us.
Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…
An alcoholic enters a bar…it sounds like a bad joke, doesn’t it? I mean, why would a recovering alcoholic enter the one place in town that would make her crave the very thing she’s supposed to avoid?
Well, I can tell you that May Shipley walked into the Gin Mill with one clear intention, but when her reason for being there ends up revealing a truth she never saw coming, not only does May have to endure the outcome, but she also has to temper her cravings while entering into a new arrangement with a guy whose feelings of failure match her own and leaves May constantly questioning herself and her actions while attempting to keep her affair with Alec hidden from everyone else but each other.
But the thing about secret relationships or in May and Alec’s case, secret hookups, is that they normally don’t remain secret; there’s always something that causes it to be outed, and because of the baggage that both May and Alec bring into their arrangement as well as the fact that the whole town, including May’s family, have what they believe are ‘clear perceptions’ of who May and Alec are, feelings get hurt, self loathing intensifies, and both May and Alec are left wondering if more can be built out of something that was just supposed to be ‘fun.’
May and Alec definitely make an interesting pairing, not only because of May’s past relationship and feelings for women, but also because both she and Alec do not have very high opinions of themselves, and it’s that idea as well as the townspeople’s stereotypical views of them due to May’s drinking issues and Alec’s manwhorish, life of the party ways that seem to pigeon hole them right from the start.
But here’s the thing, May is more than just a recovering alcoholic…she’s more than the woman who made mistakes and seems to still be paying for them…she’s more than her family gives her credit for, and she more than the failure she views herself as. And what I love about Alec is that he truly sees May, and even better, he understands May, which means that their ‘arrangement’ is built on firmer ground than just a rebound hook-up.
It’s clear that many people don’t seem to trust and/or respect May and Alec, and while that has to be difficult to accept, their focus should be on themselves and finding a way to see past their self-doubt, past their regrets, past the thought that May could relapse and that Alec could be the shallow jokester that everyone has already labeled him as, but that’s not who either of these two characters are and it’s that part of the story that I felt most connected to…that I felt needed to be addressed with May’s family and the judgmental members of their community.
May and Alec struggle…that’s just a part of life, but if they nor those closest to them see the possibilities that can be achieved instead of the mistakes that could continue to be made, they’ll never work past their failures or prove just exactly who they are beyond their mistakes.
I love Sarina Bowen’s True North series, and it felt like coming home again when I read May and Alec’s story. I’m glad that readers get to catch up with past couples and see what’s new in their lives, and as much as I would have liked to strangle Griff a bit due to how he treats his sister at times in Speakeasy, I still can’t help but love him:)
4.5 Poison Apples
About the Author
Sarina Bowen is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.
Sarina’s books are published in a dozen languages on four continents. In 2016, The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with a RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.