Publication Date: June 21, 2022
Can these opposites turn up the heat… without burning down the house?
House-flipping sensation and YouTube star Maggie Nichols can’t wait to dig into her next challenge. Arriving in tiny Kinship, Idaho, with only a cot and a coffeemaker, Maggie is prepared to restore a crumbling Victorian mansion in four months or less. She has her to-do lists, her blueprints, and her team. What she doesn’t have is time for sexy, laid-back landscaper Silas Wright.
The man takes flirtation to a whole new level. And he does it shirtless…sometimes pants-less. He and his service school-dropout dog are impressively persistent. But she’s not interested in putting down roots. Not when fans tune in to watch her travel the country turning dilapidated houses into dream homes. A short-term fling on the other hand could fit nicely into her calendar. After all, Maggie remembers what fun is like. Vaguely.
As their summer gets downright steamy, Silas manages to demolish the emotional walls she’s spent years building, sending Maggie into a panic. He’s the wrench in her carefully constructed plans. With the end of the project looming, she has a decision to make. But how can she stay when her entire career is built on moving on?
Disclaimer: I don’t often read contemporary romance, and if I do, it’s almost always queer contemporary romance. So in some ways I was expecting this to not be 100% my thing.
In a lot of ways, I absolutely loved this. I’m a sucker for found family, always, and this is a really excellent example of a huge, boisterous, loving, slowly growing found family. It’s one of the best examples I’ve come across recently, in fact, and that part I would absolutely rate 5 stars.
Similarly Maggie herself I would give a high rating as she was an excellent main character. Hands-on, not afraid to get dirty, quick to see the potential in things, slow to trust, but with a huge heart, once you get past her walls.
My beef is with Silas, the love interest, also known as “Hot Landscaper Guy.” He is… confusing. In most ways he is 100% the typical ‘alpha male’ hero who manhandles, bosses ‘his girl’ around, is sure he knows what’s best for her in all situations, etc. I cannot stand alpha males, hence the lowered rating.
The confusing part comes in when he isn’t being your typical alpha male. He could also be thoughtful, sensitive, emotionally well-adjusted, intelligent, and romantic. Then, at the drop of the hat, alpha male Silas was back. It was weird – almost as if the author were trying to create the ‘perfect man’ to please every reader.
Also, the romance is insta-love and ‘fate’ and he knows he’s gonna marry her from the second he meets her (despite just getting out of a five-year relationship) and he spends the rest of the book attempting to convince her of that when she very much does not want to be convinced. It was very ‘I’m right and you’re wrong about your life choices so you should just do what I say.’
And he would just kiss her into agreeing with him basically. Like he would kiss her and her brain just went right out the window. And he gets all pout-y near the end when he thinks she might actually leave as she’d been planning to all along and he goes off and sulks for a month.
The sex scenes were also VERY alpha male and VERY straight and they made me cringe. I rolled my eyes and skimmed past them.
I also wished quite a few times that this were a queer romance. Like, pairing Maggie with a ‘Hot Landscaper Gal’ would have worked SO much better for me. Really, I would have happily taken a male-but-not-an-alpha-male love interest. Or a nonbinary love interest. I did like the queer secondary love story, but it was very much in the background.
I really enjoyed seeing the house slowly come together as the whole town pitched in, and I also really really enjoyed the historical mystery and treasure hunt storyline.
I should note that people who enjoy the alpha male dynamic will probably really enjoy this story.
*Thanks to NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing an e-arc for review.