My initial reaction to hearing that one of my favorite erotic romance writers is doing a Harlequin series is the same
reaction I have to my favorite PNR authors jumping into the YA genre…."Waaaait! Noooo! Stay with us!” (Sherrilyn Kenyon - I’m looking at you!) But then I tell myself to stop being selfish, and I follow along on the author’s creative journey because I want to hear their voice more than anything. I’m excited about Beth’s exposure to a whole new group of fans, and although I missed my precious wicked hot love scenes and had to keep reminding myself “This is Harlequin! Not Harlequin Blaze!”, this sweet romance did
have much of her signature strong emotional undertone that I’m accustomed to in the Berkley titles.
Fifteen years after a major Harbor Town tragedy has torn apart 3 families, including the families of Marianna (“Mari”) Itani and Marc Kavanaugh, the story opens with Marc tracking down his first love in a Chicago hotel for a night of passion they should have, and nearly shared, as teenagers. Fearing the tension and animosity between the remaining Itani’s and Kavanaugh’s too strong, Mari “no shows” the next day, doesn’t return Marc’s calls and basically disappears for weeks until Marc spots Mari at a Harbor Town summer parade, on the eve of the tragedy’s anniversary. (I keep referring to the “tragedy” – it’s a rather unique set-up for a romance novel, one that I’d rather not spoil) Unbeknownst to Mari, she’s now pregnant with Marc’s baby.
As teens, it was perfectly acceptable for Mari’s brother to date around, but her Lebanese family had a strick “hands off” policy when it came to their daughter. Realizing the unfairness in this, Mari rebelled and made out with Marc in secret places all over her family’s home :) But this is not
the Mari of today. With the stress of the pregnancy that she isn’t aware of, the actual clashes between the tragedy’s victims/survivors, and the icy daggers Marc’s mother keeps shooting Mari’s way, Mari believes that rekindling her relationship with Marc is selfish and dishonoring the memory of her family. Marc was really the best part of the story for me – I love a “hero pursuer” storyline, and boy does he! It takes a lot of patience on Marc’s part to convince Mari that they should live their lives for themselves, and not give up on a potential future together for the sake of appeasing their families. I mean, there were a few moments when I didn’t even think Mari deserved
Marc, and I wanted to smack her! He’s gorgeous! He loves you! You’re having a baby! What’s the problem, babe? But then I tempered those thoughts with my lack of understanding for the volatile , almost unimaginable position Mari’s in (more on that “tragedy”), and so I gave her some slack :) Plus Marc’s romantic side more than made up for her flightiness. The love scenes were still sensual and captivating – Hello, front yard tree! *wink*
I’m excited to continue with the series and especially looking forward to the stories of Mari and Marc’s brothers – the cop & the military man – and more intertwining love lives of guilt-ridden survivors.