Dani Sullivan has come to Lake Bliss to write her latest cookbook and take a breather. After the year she’s had, she deserves a summer retreat to reevaluate priorities and make peace with past decisions. But from the moment single dad and sheriff Matt Reagan shows up, she has a hard time convincing herself that a life away from Lake Bliss could beat the life she might have here.
Recently divorced Matt is ready for a new relationship, but he doesn’t want short-term—his son needs permanence, and so does Matt’s heart. Unfortunately, it’s the smart-mouthed and sinfully sexy Ms. Sullivan who catches his eye. But when Matt learns Dani’s secrets, will he still want her to stay? Or will her chance for love last just for the summer?
My main issue with this book was that it felt like Matt's reaction to Dani's omission was too much. It was basically "I can't believe it you're just like my ex-wife!" without listening to her side of things. I'm not saying what Dani did (or rather didn't do) wasn't worth getting upset over. However Matt takes it a step too far and even after realizing why she must have hidden the knowledge, he's still "Why did she lie to me?". In short he made some very selfish decisions.
Its also all very coincidental and easy for Dani to find out the information she needed to find her son (plus illegal) and she was very lucky that it worked out the way it did.
Regardless when Dani wasn't agonizing over the fact her son was so close, but so far she was an engaging heroine. Playful, up-beat and determined Dani doesn't let her dark past overwhelm her. Rutland pays lip service to the fact that Dani had to go through counseling to get past what happened, but Dani gives the impression that through force of will she overcame it.
I couldn't get a handle on Matt. He kept claiming he's such a great, non-sexist guy, but almost every word (or thought) was a barely veiled insinuation that Dani should get in bed with him. Actually sometimes it wasn't even an insinuation, but an outright confidence game. Dani gives as good as she gets though and keeps him on his toes, calling him on some of his more jerky comments and doing the proverbial slap down.
That is until an inconvienent plot device throws them together all the time. This next part is a bit of spoiler so read at your own risk:
[spoiler] Her son, or rather Matt's son, develops Diabetes quite suddenly. Like I mean he's fine at the start of the chapter and by the end of it he's critical. I know very little about Diabetes, but what I've read would suggest that there should have been some warning signs prior to the 'critical' stage. Regardless this means that Dani moves in to educate Matt and his mother on what it now means. I'm sorry what? Dani says she'll leave each night, unless she's working too late on recipes, but I'm stuck on the fact she felt a need to be there. And that Matt thinks its completely rational. True something happens and Matt almost makes the wrong decision, but all the printed material that Dani gave them would have given him the same answer that Dani gave him. It felt so forced and disingenuous that I found myself getting irritated the further the book went on.[/end spoiler]
Bringing back to another point--Matt's mother (Elaine) had to be the most selfish person to ever grace the page as a grandmother. I can't think of any other reason why, after being told its her grandson's life on the line if she doesn't change her ways, she stubbornly thinks its all just an excuse of Dani's to kick her out. Her refusal to think that what Dani was saying was anything but an elaborate ploy to make her look bad made me want to strangle her.
Some good points in its favor are the secondary characters--Lake Bliss is blessed with an assortment of caring, vibrant characters (a couple of whom I'm sure will be getting their own book(s) soon). Dani is instantly welcomed into the community, though I'm sure some of that has to do with the fact she's writing a cookbook and everything in town has a (horrible) pun for a title. No one, in any world, should ever write a cookbook called "Beauty and the Yeast". Ever.
Overall this was an easy read with mild enough irritations. It makes for a good summer read with its breezy writing and quick to catch on plot. While the end game is obvious, sometimes the getting there is amusing.