I might be from Oregon, but I lived in Arizona for 10 years and I absolutely love the desert. I hate that more books aren’t set in Phoenix. This summer I was going to spend a month in Phoenix and I was really excited to read a book set in Phoenix that was also a romance! Needless to say I times my review for this book with my trip, I couldn’t wait to read this one.
I have read one of McKinlay’s books prior to this and I thought it was good so going into this desert setting book, I was hopeful that I would enjoy it and escape but also find a book that would capture the beauty and desert culture. The desert can be such a romantic place and I was super excited to see how the setting played into this one.
Reading this book went fairly quick. I picked it up and finished it on a matter of a couple of days and I liked it just fine but I don’t know that I loved it. I liked the enemies to lovers troupe but I just don’t know that it was as impactful as I was hoping it would be. But it was a nice quick read that left me feeling content and happy I read it but I would have liked to have something with a bit more something.
A woman looking for a new lease on life moves to Arizona where she rents a guest house on a gorgeous property with a mysterious owner–a man who teaches her about resilience, courage, and ultimately true love, in this funny, bighearted novel about hope and healing from New York Timesbestselling author Jenn McKinlay.
Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She’s not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal… from her ex-husband. When she’s offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.
When she arrives in the Valley of the Sun, Annabelle is instantly intrigued by her anonymous landlord. Based on the cranky, handwritten notes Nick Daire leaves her, she assumes he is an old, rich curmudgeon. Annabelle is shocked when she finally meets Nick and discovers that he’s her age and uses a wheelchair. Nick suffered from a stroke a year ago, and while there’s no physical reason for him not to recover, he is struggling to overcome the paralyzing fear that has kept him a prisoner in his own home.
Despite her promise to herself not to get involved, Annabelle finds herself irresistibly drawn to Nick. And soon she wonders if she and Nick might help each other find the courage to embrace life, happiness, and true love (summary from Goodreads)
There is something about Phoenix and the desert that is a magnet for people wanting to start over. I know when I moved there it felt like I was starting over in a new place full of adventure and different scenery that I had never seen before. Phoenix has become a source of romance for me and I was so excited to see how this one turned out with the setting. Yes I loved the setting and I loved how Phoenix was portrayed in this book but I wish it had been more of a part of the story.
the characters had a lot going on in this one too. Sometimes it felt a little overwhelming and I also felt that Annabelle was a bit scattered and not what I would expect for someone at that point in life. I mean she wasn’t awful but I just felt like she could have been a bit more mature or maybe just a bit more structured. I am not sure, but there was something that I just didn’t enjoy about her character. I also felt that Annabelle and Nick went from enemies to lovers/friends too quick. I thought there could have been a lot more chemistry to be had with a different approach and tension. It just didn’t work for me and I felt like the characters became less and less dimensional the longer the book went on.
But did I hate it? No I didn’t. I was invested enough to read it in a couple of days and it was ok, but it wasn’t my favorite book by this author. I did feel disappointed in some ways simply because I had such high hopes for how this one was going to turn out but it just fell a little flat for me. I wanted more for the characters and the romance was too slow burn for me. I needed more chemistry and heat but it wasn’t necessarily a bad story, it was ok but not a favorite. If you are looking for something with a different location with a slow burn this one might be for you—-for me, I needed more.
Book Info and Rating
Format333 pages, Paperback
PublishedAugust 10, 2021 by Berkley Books
ISBN9780593101377 (ISBN10: 0593101375)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3 stars