FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Itching for Books.
November 5, 2013
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (NA)
After a tragedy nearly ripped 21 year old Madeline Darlington-Gray’s life in half, she's spent the past three years trying to put the pieces back together. But pieces never just fit back together, and when she's betrayed by those she trusts, everything crumbles. Shoving everything she owns into the trunk of her car, Maddie drives south, trying to run from her past.
Eno, North Carolina seems like the perfect place to hide. Working at a local café is light years from Maddie's Manhattan existence and for the first time in a while, she's finding her family. There's Grandma, the café owner; Samantha, the hairstylist next door with plans to make Maddie's life unsuck and Noie, the three year old girl who's stolen Maddie's heart.
And then there’s Gabriel Mendez, Noie’s single dad. He’s intrigued Maddie since the first time she met him, and while he has his own secrets, he wants more from her than just friendship. But the past never stays past, and all too soon, Maddie realizes she can't hide from hers. If she can't put the pieces of her shattered life together this time, she'll have no hope for a future.
A future she desperately wants.
Maddie has lost everything twice over. After experiencing almost unimaginable tragedy, she was betrayed by those she trusted most. With nothing left, she leaves, driving aimlessly south as she tries to outrun her past. What’s supposed to be a quick stop in a sleepy beach town becomes a longer stay when she accepts a job at a homey cafe, befriends the locals, and meets a little girl with whom she has an amazing connection.
Gabe’s life hasn’t been easy, especially when it comes to love, but he’s since built his entire world around his daughter Noie. Terrified of strangers for some unexplained reason, Noie surprises everyone when she immediately attaches herself to Maddie, telling everyone they’re friends. While their connection brings Gabe and Maddie closer to each other, it also opens an otherworldly door to finally healing and moving on.
The ending to the story was so abrupt that I thought I’d somehow skipped a chapter. It didn’t make for a bad read, but even though it implied a happily ever after, it seemed to leave some loose ends and had me wondering what would happen next. While this move was obviously intentional, it was rather disappointing after becoming so wrapped up in the characters.
Were it not for the quick drop-off of an ending, I probably would have said this book was perfect. I loved that Noie wasn’t just a replacement for what Maddie had lost, but rather a link to it. I also loved the slow build of her relationship with Gabe. But in the end, I’m not sure I’d classify it as romance first. It was more the tale of one woman beginning to heal and move on, and while the romance certainly played a part, it wasn’t the main focus of the story. In any case, it’s a lovely story about friendship, healing, and finding a new start, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys something more meaningful than just another romance novel.