By Elisabeth Barrett
Series: Return to Briarwood #1
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Reviewed from: an eARC provided by the Publisher
About Once and Again:For readers of Shannon Stacey and Susan Mallery, the heartfelt new Briarwood series begins with a tale of forbidden love, broken promises, and second chances.
Growing up in Eastbridge, Connecticut, Carolyn Rivington was a young debutante who did whatever her parents asked. So when her father demanded that she break things off with the boy from the wrong side of the tracks or else, she did. Now Carolyn’s family is deep in debt. She’s no longer a member of the Briarwood Golf and Yacht Club, she’s an employee. And the tanned, tattooed, dangerously handsome stranger who saunters into her lobby isn’t just her new boss . . . he’s also her first love.
The last time he saw Carolyn, Jake Gaffney was in the back of a police cruiser, handcuffed and humiliated. But seeing her again stirs other memories: a blanket on the beach, the moon above their heads, and the most expensive bottle of wine he could afford. Now the tables have turned. As a real-estate magnate and Briarwood’s new owner, Jake doesn’t have to answer to anyone. But now that he’s back home, he’s finding it hard to live down his old reputation.
Before they can move forward, Jake and Carolyn must face their pasts. But it’ll take more than sizzling chemistry for them to heal old wounds and return to the love they once shared.
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What drew me to this book was the comparison to Susan Mallery and Shannon Stacey--both of whom are authors I enjoy. I also enjoy the trope of a second chance romance, so this book had two checks in the "pick me up" column as I have not previously read a book by Ms. Barrett. I am happy to report that I did enjoy it.
Without a doubt, I truly believe that writing the first book of a series seems the hardest to me. The author has to balance the story line, the series story lines, while also paying enough attention to the main characters' stories but giving enough nuggets of interest to the secondary characters so we will want to continue forward with the series. Overall, I think Ms. Barrett did a good job. I liked Carolyn and Jake, both individually and together. They each have their own separate issues they have to work through in order to make their relationship work--but I feel that is authentic to life.
Ms. Barrett spends some time introducing us to what are, in this book, the secondary characters. There is Link the golf pro and Jane the baker. We have Eric, Nick and Maddie, additional workers in the club. Then there is Preston and Marcus, Jake's two colleagues. All of these people add to the layers of the people both Carolyn and Jake interact with throughout the book. Of course, Ms. Barrett is setting up the thread for the series, by introducing us to these characters.
All-in-all, I feel this is a good start to a new series. I wish we could have had a bit more time with Caroline and Jake together. It was interesting seeing both Caroline and Jake working on developing relationships with others, too, besides just each other. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a second chance at true love and or a new contemporary romance series, should add this one to their list to try.
About our author, Elisabeth Barrett:Elisabeth Barrett lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and spends her days teaching, editing, writing sexy contemporary romance, and enjoying time with
her sometimes-bearded husband and three spirited children. She is constantly perfecting her home-work-writing juggling act, but in her free time she loves to hike open-space preserves, grow orchids, bake sweet things her husband won’t eat, and sing in grand choruses. For more about Elisabeth, please visit her website.