“It’s tough to win the game of love if you don’t understand the rules.
Though Tony Mullin agreed to put on a medieval costume, complete with pointy hat, for her best friend’s marriage vow renewal, another round of wedding bells will never be in her own future. Been there, done that, still sifting through the ashes of broken dreams.
Yet she can’t take her eyes off the Armani-clad mystery man among the guests—and no one’s more surprised to learn it’s David Peterson, the erstwhile nerd who mooned over her in high school. He not only grew up to be a hunk, but a rich one as well. Pity she’s sworn off men.
Last David knew, sweet, artistic Tony married the high school quarterback. He made his fortune developing video games, but the torch he carried for her still smolders. His surprise that she’s ditched the jock quickly turns to determination to win her heart at last…though she seems just as determined to play keep-away.
David didn’t become successful by giving up easily. A freak snowstorm plays into his strategy, but debugging a few gigabytes of computer code seems easier than figuring out how to win this wary woman’s love.”
Dear Ms. Knights,
What made me want to try this novel when it’s got elements of blurbs past which didn’t pique my interest? Well, Tony sounds like a steadfast friend who would be willing to endure the ignominy of wearing a costume in order to make a friend happy. And – I could be wrong here but – it seems like a lot of second-chance-at-love plots feature the heroine who “just can’t forget that one passionate kiss 10 years ago and who still pines for the hunky hero” while here it’s the hero who remembers and is determined he won’t lose the girl this time. Plus I love me a nerdy hero.
David impresses me from the start. He’s a gentleman and a gentleman doesn’t leave a lady stranded in the snow with a dead car battery. This is a Great Guy in action. This is “bring this man home to meet the family” stuff. David is such a sweetie in his love for Tony. He builds her up, his questions and statements always try and encourage her. David wants Tony to dream again… for her own good and happiness. To not be afraid to go after those dreams. He doesn’t hammer at her or try to force her into something she’s not ready for. Yet, as his friend Rich says, he can also be a bit of a lame brain at times. He also isn’t above wanting to show off his success to the people who gave him grief in high school. It’s his form of revenge – which is really the best kind. Not really in a mean way but a “hey, look at my convertible Mercedes” way. He’s well rounded, though not always perfect, as a person and this comes off in the way you’ve written his character. His scenes with his mother are cute too.
David could have been a sap. I get so tired of book plots with one main character who’s loved and pined for a person for ten years. Get real. David had a major crush on Tony, yes, but in the intervening years he’s dated and even thought another woman might have been The One. When he gets the chance to see Tony again, he takes it but doesn’t initially live on the hope that he can get her romantic attention. That would be nice but it’s not truly his goal. Instead he’s not above quietly showing that he’s matured and done damn well for himself. It’s only after he sees her again and learns she’s divorced that he slowly begins to make his moves. Yet, he also stops and thinks about things. He realizes what he had was a crush then and wants to be sure it’s the real thing now and not just braggadocio and “hot damn, she’s into me now!”
Tony has changed and matured too. She is honest with herself about the mess that her marriage was and doesn’t want to fall into that pattern again. At the wedding reception, she takes a good look at the people she hung out with and how shallow she once was for doing so. There’s also the issue of how she sometimes treated David then and I like that she owns up to it and apologizes for it. She’s also horrified at the thought that others could think she’s after his money – to the point that she almost goes overboard in rejecting any assistance from him and any hint that she’s sponging off him. Tony isn’t swearing off all future relationships because of her ex- she’s just going to take her time which seems so much more real to me. She discovers, slowly, that she wants to know David and know more about him. She’s interested in the man and not in his money. He’s also got a wicked, self deprecating sense of humor that appeals to her.
I like the way you show how important they’re becoming to each other and how, underneath it all, they’re in sync by having Tony feel so comfortable that she can tell David anything. Even deep dark, secrets and things about her life that she’s kept from most everyone else.
Their Big Mis actually makes sense given how you’ve written them and their pasts. Tony was controlled and belittled in her marriage and now struggles and fights against that and against it ever happening again. She’s been down that road and ain’t going back again. David wants the best for her and thinks she’ll be happiest as an artist and not as an accountant. But he also knows she wants to make it on her own and not get a job because she’s seeing the co-owner of the company. So, it makes sense that he would let Rich approach Tony first and also that – given how low her self esteem is – he wouldn’t want to raise her hopes by mentioning it beforehand. Then, her negative reaction to what she sees as more manipulation of her life by a man kicks in and we get the teensy separation. Really teensy as Tony does have some common sense and quickly starts to think about this option. Can she trust in herself and can she trust David? The answers to those questions are necessary and vital to their relationship. I also like how the job situation resolves. It’s real life realistic instead of pie in the sky. Tony isn’t ready for a full time graphic artist position but if she’s willing to “go for it” and try for her dream, the company will work with her.
I had fun reading this book because Tony and David are two characters whom I liked spending time with and who I was happy to see get their HEA. Though I actually finished this book a few weeks ago, it’s still fresh enough in my mind that I didn’t have to resort to checking my bookmarks in order to see what I wanted to say about it. That’s a winning story for me. B+