He’s the man she left behind, but never forgot… Laurel Moore might have had to leave her prized job as an assistant chef in one of NYC’s swankiest restaurants to take care of her brother and mother after her father’s death, but she’s not giving up on her dream. Nope. She’s going to turn her father’s debt-ridden, greasy spoon bar and restaurant into a destination gastropub that will bring life back to her small, struggling town. Laurel faces resistance on all sides, but it’s running into her first love, reformed bad boy Jonah Gardiner, that really throws her off her stride. Worse, he’s more tempting than ever. Spurred on by Laurel’s rejection a decade ago, Jonah cleaned up his act and became an academic and psychologist, who helps everyone understand their feelings except himself. He can think of a million reasons why he and Laurel need to stay at arms’ length, but when she shares her new recipes with him, it seems like foreplay. And that’s just the beginning… Can he and Laurel seize a second chance or will she destroy the peace he’s worked so hard for?
The heroine Laurel has come back to her home town to juggle personal lives and professional lives. She comes back after her beloved father has died due to alcoholism. She spent her entire life trying to save him, he made promises he couldn’t keep, he tried to get himself onto the straight and narrow but relapse was always going to be just around the corner. He owned a bar and his wife was an absolute enabler, not to mention some unsavoury characters that could just pull him all the way back in. The hero, Jonah was my favourite. I’m a sucker for broken, but strong characters. Jonah, as a teen was a troublemaker, everyone knew it, moreso Laurel. He was headed down the same path as her father and all she wanted to do was save him too. Laurel was truly surrounded by broken men, men that couldn’t put her happiness and concern first. She was trying to fix them all but really she was going to end up breaking herself. Jonah’s root cause of his misery was his terrible childhood. He managed to get his shit together after Laurel leaves him to pursue her career, this had given him a necessary wake up call. But, now Laurel is home and not only is she grieving but she has to manage her attraction to Jonah but also deal with her brother who is now rapidly going down the same road as their father. Jonah still has obstacles in his way, obstacles that could quite easily send him back on the his course of becoming an alcoholic. Can Laurel keep him from descending down a dark path once again?
I’m a big fan of second chance romances and this ticked the boxes. It wasn’t an insta-love story and nothing was quick and simple. The road to happiness wasn’t the direct one. Laurel couldn’t save her father but she played a part in saving Jonah although he is fully aware that the temptation never fully leaves him. The alcoholism issue was dealt with sensitively and was written well and you could feel Laurel’s inner conflict at trying to help everyone but not feeling like she was making much headway. Laurel and Jonah had sweet Chemistry together and there coming back together was heartwarming and their intimate scenes were both comical and hot and the chemistry was obvious. The writing was very good and it was fast paced and the actual romance made you feel all warm and giddy inside. This was my first outing with a Kimberley Ash novel but it certainly won’t be my last.
*I was given an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*