Dear Ms. Dane:
I have a weakness for a number of romance hero types, billionaires, MMA fighters — really athletes of almost any sort, and rock stars. We were introduced to the Hurley brothers, who comprise world famous band Sweet Hollow Ranch in your book Delicious. In this book, we meet Paddy Hurley. One day, as Paddy sits in his favorite coffee shop in Hood River, Oregon, he spies a vision from the past. In she clicks in her heels and pencil skirt — Natalie Clayton, reformed wild child, now town librarian. You see, Paddy and Natalie had a really hot two week hook up before Sweet Hollow Ranch made it big. Paddy never forgot Natalie, and her tempting tattoos. To his dismay, his flirtatious hello is roundly rebuffed by Natalie, who pretends not to recognize him. Well this is new, women don’t generally turn down flirting from Paddy Hurley. But he’s determined — he has extremely fond memories of Natalie, and would like to renew their acquaintance.
Natalie is frankly pretty horrified to see Paddy. She’s not that girl any more. After a rough childhood with her rich, constantly high as a kite father, and her subsequent young adult rebellion, Natalie is looking for a quiet life. There is absolutely nothing about Paddy that screams quiet. Oh sure, he’s still sex on a stick. But she knows that nothing about Paddy’s life is conducive to the low profile, quiet she craves. She can’t deny that she’s tempted though, and when Paddy launches a full on charm offensive, she agrees to dinner.
Of course, Natalie acts on that attraction and soon she and Paddy are embarking on an extremely hot affair. Paddy is charming, kind and is only interested in wooing Natalie. But he’ll soon go on the road, and there will be other women pursuing him. Plus, Natalie has her own hang ups about the relationship. She grew up in a house where her father was always either addicted to something, or going through the 12-step process. And after giving him multiple opportunities to screw up their relationship, Natalie has resolved that her father should not be in her life. Her past has provided a big hang up for Natalie about addictive behavior, and Paddy lives large while he’s on the road. Natalie is reluctant to lay her heart on the line but she can’t help but be attracted to Paddy, who finds a peace in Natalie’s steadiness and sensibility. He knows in his heart that Natalie is the one, now he just has to convince her of that.
I’m a huge fan of the “hero in hot pursuit” trope. And Paddy Hurley is in hot pursuit. He knows almost immediately that Natalie offers him something that he’s found nowhere else — peace from the wilder aspects of his life. He’s determined to show Natalie that when he’s not on the road, his life is quite normal. But she knows that there are temptations everywhere for him and that despite the life he has here, life on the road is a different thing altogether. She has protected herself her entire adult life from the fast life that her father lived and that Paddy now represents. But is the Paddy she knows in his “real” life the one who she’ll find on the road?
This book is definitely a character/relationship driven book. It focuses on two strong individuals coming together and building a life-long love. It’s what works so well for me. No one is a villain. No one acts in an extreme way. Both characters have childish moments. There are speedbumps and hurdles they must cross. But the story remains focused on them coming together as a couple. The book does revisit Damien and Mary from the Delicious series, and also introduces both Natalie’s best friend, Tuesday, and the other Hurley brothers, Ezra and Vaughan, all of whom will be featured in subsequent stories. As always, your love scenes are hot and varied and serve to build the characters’ relationship, rather than being gratuitous. Overall, I really loved the book, and finished it so excited to see what comes next in this sexy new series. The Best Kind of Trouble is the best kind of reading. Final grade: B+.