I was so excited to dive into this book. A friends-to-lovers, second-chance-romance, it’s full of my favourite tropes, but sadly it fell a little flat for me and I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. There were a few things that didn’t work for me and I’m using the review writing experience as therapy so please bear with me while I purge my thoughts and feelings.
Francesca (Frankie) is a first grade teacher who loved her job and who is smart, confident and happy. She lis in a committed relationship, living with her boyfriend, and she is gearing up for the new school year when a blast from the past shows up and derails everything.
Mackenzie (Mack) is the hot new single Dad in town, and he has all of the women around the school talking. Nicknamed ‘Mack Daddy’ he is soon to become the focus of the myriad of single women. But he only has eyes for one person.
“We all have that one person. It’s not necessarily someone we end up with. But it’s that person who, for whatever reason, gets under your skin and stays there. You can move on, but parts of them are always with you. Sometimes, if things never had a chance to develop, if feelings are still unresolved, that person becomes an even more powerful force in your life, even in absentia.”
Mack and Frankie shared a house with a friend in college. They became the best of friends, but it all fell apart when Mack broke Frankie’s heart and left. Now, years later, he has shown up at her school to enrol his son in her class, and he makes it clear that he’s there to make up for lost time and claim her the way he has always wanted her.
“How did your son end up in my class?”
“If I told you it was a coincidence, would you believe me?”
“Well, it’s not,” he was quick to admit.
“Why? Why are you doing this? Why didn’t you warn me?”
“Would it have made it any easier?”
“No,” I whispered.
“You’re the only one I trust with him… I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, in general. I know it may seem like eons ago that we were close, and I know you’re confused right now. I know I fucked everything up between us, but I’ve never forgotten you. Not a single day.”
The book switches between the present day and Frankie and Mack’s past together, and I loved their past history. Their friendship develops wonderfully with lots of banter, teasing and laugh-out-loud moments, and I loved watching them become the best of friends and falling for each other without even really noticing or acknowledging it. There was never an actual romance between them because Mack was in a relationship with somebody else the whole time (and the question needs to be asked… why?), but the feelings were there and the chemistry is wonderfully written. But we know it’s all going to fall apart – and given the circumstances in the present, it’s not too hard to figure out how and why.
“I lost all those years, only to end up in the same place, wanting you and wishing I hadn’t ever let you go.”
Back in the present, Mack is a man on a mission to win over the one woman that got away. He is bold and open about his feelings, desperate to finally have his chance, and you’ve got to love a man who is so determined to win his girl.
“Your happiness is all that matters. You’re holding all the cards, Frankie — every single, last one of them. But just be aware that I have no issue with showing you exactly how much I want you right now.” He moved in closer, to the point where I could feel the heat from his body. “The next time you ask me to kiss you, I’m going to fucking kiss you… I’m not gonna lie to you about my feelings. I’m not going to hide the fact that I want to make love to you more than anything.”
But having said that, it’s a fine line between getting completely swept up in Mack’s passionate pursuit of Frankie as he says and does all of the right things, and feeling uncomfortable and sad that her absolutely amazing boyfriend is being completely disrespected. It’s a sort-of love triangle, but sort-of not as it’s very clear where Frankie’s heart lies, but it takes her while to figure that out, and it’s an angsty ride while she sorts herself out. I’m sure it’s a situation that most people will be able to overlook but it just rubbed me the wrong way, and I lost a lot of respect for the way the two of them handled the situation.
And that was the beginning before all of the other stuff came along to annoy me. Warning, rant ahead…
So yeah, a whole combination of factors as to why this one wasn’t a winner for me. I think once you lose respect for the characters, it all sort of goes downhill, and that’s what happened for me with this book. I didn’t really fell the excitement I usually do when a couple gets their HEA, and the drama thrown in at the end felt unnecessary. But through it all I could still appreciate Ward’s writing, which is a great mix of funny and emotional and she does the dual POV really well, and there is a nice epilogue though that finishes off the story beautifully.
I truly wanted to love it, but sadly, it wasn’t for me.
3 stars (just).
Check out our Penelope Ward Author Spotlight for more books!