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Synopsis: Twenty-five-year-old Natalie Davenport lugs substantial baggage. One boyfriend after the next has been a total disaster, leaving Natalie distrustful toward the male population in general. So when Colin Hampton crosses her path, she’s cautious. Her heart (and some other body parts!) nudges her to go for it, while her head wants her to run for the hills.

Colin is one of those gorgeous guys who attract women, no matter the age or marital status. With a successful career at a popular Seattle radio station, hard body, and charming personality, he is the complete package. But something dark lurks in the corners of his soul; some murky experience that has changed him—maybe for the better, but maybe for the worse.

Will he steal her heart and stomp over it like other guys did?

Will she let him into her heavily fortified world despite herself?

Or will they settle somewhere in the middle—establishing the emotional boundaries to protect them from falling in love

NWW Review: The book was slightly unbalanced in terms of pace, the quality of narration, and emotional temperature. In the first part of the book we are treated to a detailed description of Natalie’s life in Seattle. The narration is conducted in the first person, which gives the Reader a great insight into the dynamics between Nat and her three best friends. The language is sharp, brutally witty, and a bit pretentious in how the four ladies try to sound more emancipated with all the snarky comments, sexual innuendos and goofing around. Personally I found Natalie and her three besties to resemble the four heroines from Sex in The City. Each women in scarred, afraid to show any weakness and to commit to one guy. It is that overwhelming fear which is emotionally crippling and even when Mr Right makes an appearance they are too afraid of being hurt yet again to give him a chance. Rather than taking this risk, it is after all safer to cut and run into the arms of another random stranger. You can see that as soon as that high-life gloss, stillettos and fancy dresses are ripped off, what is left are four insecure women who desperately look for love, but in the same time do not fully know what they are actually looking for.

almost-matchedColin, our enigmatic male protagonist, has the typical for this genre good looks, a successful career, a charming personality, with an edge of danger and a dark past lurking in the background. With his superb cooking skills and ability to play instruments he is your text book Mr Right. And when Natalie agrees to go on a first date with Colin, the sharp-witted narration changes. Nat becomes more guarded, self-concious, and unsure. It seems as if Colin’s charm and good-looks peel off that surface layer of independence, one-night stands, and fast-paced life. What is left, is a woman with a scarred heart scared that Colin will conquer her carefully guarded heart and hurt her in the process. And the transformation is rather abrupt. We see Natalie first as this independent, strong-headed entrepreneur yet barely 20 pages later she is insecure and needy, with a tendency to overthink Colin’s actions and getting drunk when things get rocky.

I wasn’t particularly taken with the story mainly due to its lack of focus. I have assumed that the main story is the romantic union between Natalie and Colin. However, there were numerous sections in the book which drew the attention of the Reader away from the main storyline. For example, the lengthy description of the Girls Night In, make the whole story feel unfocused. Was it supposed to show us the bond between the girls? Sadly, the only impression I have got was that they are four very confused women trying to cover their loneliness with a harsh, go-getter exterior, grating language and goofing around with a vibrator. Not a particularly attractive picture. I have usually nothing against crude comments or vulgar language but I draw a line when a woman tries to sound and behave like a man. Ladies, we are women, we are different to men and we don’t have to pretend we are one just to get our message across (whatever that message may be). This girly evening takes the focus away from Nat and Colin. As much as such a diversion could work in a larger novel, in short stories and novellas there is simply not enough pages to explore all avenues and side stories. Hence a good novella is characterised by its focus. Everything else gets considerably less space to not interrupt the development of the main storyline. 

Summarising, the story itself was very sweet, had its “hot” moments, and the characters were likeable. What I disliked were the lengthy parts unrelated to the main storyline which I simply skipped through. I haven’t read the remaining books in the series, but sadly I am not too tempted to either. It might just happen that the ‘lengthy parts’ I have repeatedly referred to in my review were simply plot hooks for the next installments. If so, the Author should have still reduced them in volume to keep the Reader interested, rather then confused.