American heiress Amelia Hathaway needs to start anew.
Her husband cheated on her, and when everything she wanted in life slipped through her fingers, she fell apart. When she did, she took another heart wrenching hit as she lost the respect of her children.
When her ex took her family from California to live in the small town of Magdalene in Maine, Amelia decided it was time to sort herself out. In order to do that and win her children back, she moves to Cliff Blue, an architectural masterpiece on the rocky coast of Magdalene.
Her boxes aren’t even unpacked when she meets Mickey Donovan, a man who lives across the street, a man so beautiful Amelia takes one look at Mickey and knows she wants it all from him.
The problem is, she finds out swiftly that he’s friendly, he’s kind, but he doesn’t want everything back.
Amelia struggles to right past wrongs in her life at the same time find out who she wants to be. She also struggles with her attraction to the handsome firefighter who lives across the street.
But Amelia will face a surprise when her friendly neighbor becomes not-so-friendly. As Amelia and Mickey go head to head, Amelia must focus on winning back the hearts of her children.
She soon discovers she also must focus on winning the heart of a handsome firefighter who understands down to his soul the beautiful heiress who lives across the street is used to a life he cannot provide.
“All my life, I was the girl who everyone thought had everything or could get it. But the only thing I ever wanted was a man like you.”
To encapsulate all the feelings that a Kristen Ashley novel stirs up in me is always an ambitious feat in itself, her stories being an extraordinary emotional journey beginning to end, and this book did not disappoint. Mickey and Amelia’s story moved me deeply, just as I expected it would, but the sheer beauty of their romance caught me by surprise. I never expected to relate so completely to two characters representative of this particular point on the age spectrum, and while their sizzling chemistry is truly something to behold, the emotional aspect of their connection, specked with just the right amount of heart-pricking angst, took my breath away on more than one occasion. This is a story about life, about the unexpected journeys that life takes us on, about the curveballs, about the direct hits and the pain they bring, but it is first and foremost a story about second chances at finding happiness, about finding the strength to be whole again and fighting for what matters the most in life. A truly splendid example of this author’s inimitable style of storytelling—I walked in these characters’ shoes, I felt all they felt, my heart roared every time they ‘soared’, and in the end, I did not want to say goodbye to them.
“There is nothing guaranteed in life. But the only leaps worth taking are leaps of faith on love. So look where you leap, beautiful, and happy landing.”
Amelia Hathaway is a woman in her late forties, an heiress, a mother, a scorned wife. The unexpected demise of her marriage made her lose herself in her anger and pain, turning her into the kind of vindictive individual her privileged upbringing taught her she should be, but while reeling in self-pity and fury, Amelia lost herself along the way, the ultimate cost being the affections and respect of her two beloved children. In a desperate attempt to start anew, to beat back the anger and bitterness that poisoned her mind for too long, and to give her children the kind of mother they could not only love again, but also be proud of and learn from, she moves to Magdalene, the small coastal town her ex-husband and their children made their new home.
“No matter what it took, no matter how much time, no matter that it made me bleed, no matter what it cost me, no matter that it would take everything I had and force me to find more, I had to do what I’d come to Maine to do.”
But a new house, new friends, a new purpose in life mean little when one’s confidence has hit rock bottom, and Amelia’s wake-up call arrives in the form of a handsome firefighter neighbour, whose striking looks and protective demeanour make her wish he’d see her the way a man sees a woman he wants in his life. But she soon realises that before anyone can see her that way, she needs to like what she sees in the mirror.
“He didn’t need me in his life. I didn’t even like me in my life. Alas, I couldn’t escape me.”
Mickey Donovan is a single dad, a natural provider, a man who works two jobs in order to give his kids the life they deserve, even when doing what he loves means living a more modest life than the one he was born into. The slow downfall of his marriage has made him question all he can offer a woman, especially a woman like Amelia Hathaway, knowing he could never give her all that she has been accustomed to having in her life. But Amelia’s insecurities put a different spin on Mickey’s reluctant behaviour.
“He didn’t want me, plain and simple. I was just his…‘attractive’ neighbor.”
When they finally take a leap and give in to their attraction, they inevitably connect on every level, but they don’t rush—they take their time, they show consideration for the people in their lives such a union would affect the most, and they give themselves time to get to know one another. The true beauty of these characters is that they are two formed, adult individuals who know what they’d gain by taking a chance on such a love, what they risk missing out on if they don’t, and who are now prepared to work their hardest to hold onto the rare magic they found in each other. The slow evolution of their relationship is as it should be, gradual and organic, each emotional milestone sinking deeply into our hearts and making us smile in delight. And there is so much to smile about in this story!
“… there is no safer place than in my arms and when you’re here, Amy, you can give me anything.”
This is the tale of a woman who always had a lot in life, and yet all she ever wanted was a loving family and a man to stand by her and accept her for all that she is. And it is the tale of a hard-working man coming to terms with the fact that some women are not looking for glitz and gold in life, but the simple joy of loving and of being loved by a man who understands them and provides for them in ways no money could ever buy. With so many aspects of this story designed to tug at our heartstrings, this was not a book I was able to read in one sitting, taking my time to fully absorb the magnitude of some particularly emotional scenes in the story. While this might be in essence a love story, this is also a tale of broken families, of healing families, of new families. And it is a story of redemption, showing that we are not defined by the mistakes we make, but by the steps we take to correct them.
“I am who I am. I have what I have. And one of the things I got that I wanna keep is you.”
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“Hello, Boston Stone,” I greeted because I had no idea what else to say.
“You are?” he asked as I put the bags to the ground and touched the button on the trunk that would open it keyless.
As it glided open, I opened my mouth, doing it uncertain if I’d share my name or continue to try to brush him off, but I didn’t have the chance to decide.
I heard the word, “Babe,” growled from behind me.
I turned and saw Mickey stalking our way.
Not simply walking.
And he didn’t look happy.
“Mickey,” I called tentatively as a greeting, uncertain at his demeanor.
I hadn’t seen him since he hadn’t seen me (I hoped) at the movies.
He was in his firefighter-not-fighting-a-fire uniform of blue khakis and tee. His eyes were moving up and down my body. He still was unbelievably beautiful (that uniform…seriously).
He didn’t greet me back.
When he stopped, his gaze cut to Boston Stone and it went flinty.
“You need somethin’?” he asked incomprehensibly inhospitably.
“I was just helping this lovely lady with her groceries,” Stone responded.
“I got it,” Mickey stated flatly and then he got it. As in, he carefully pulled me back, grabbed the bags I was perfectly capable of picking up myself and placed them in my trunk.
He then went for the bag Stone was carrying, caught hold, but Stone didn’t let go.
“I can put it in the trunk myself, Donovan,” Stone clipped.
So they knew each other.
“As I said, I got it, Stone,” Mickey clipped back.
Yes, they knew each other.
The handles flattened as they both kept hold and pulled.
“Please!” I exclaimed. “We already had a wine incident. The sidewalk of Magdalene has been anointed with one red, let’s not anoint Cross Street with four.”
Mickey instantly let go and stepped back, running into me but he didn’t apologize or move away.
He stayed close, the back of his left side touching the front of my right.
It was at that point I noticed Mickey gave off a lot of heat.
Stone put the bag in my trunk, shut it and turned slowly to Mickey and me.
But he had eyes on Mickey.
“Are you two seeing each other?”
“That’s your business how?” Mickey asked as reply.
“It’s my business because, if you’re not, I’d like to request you leave so I can ask her to dinner,” Stone returned.
My head jerked as my body locked in shock.
“That’s not gonna happen,” Mickey growled.
My body stayed locked in shock but that didn’t mean my eyes didn’t fly to Mickey’s stony-faced profile in more shock.
“So you are seeing each other,” Stone remarked.
“Again, not your business,” Mickey bit out.
Stone’s expression turned shrewd. “And that’s something that would lead me to believe that the beautiful woman standing behind you is free to go to dinner with me.”
“You forget English?” Mickey asked. “I already answered that too.”
I butted in, “I think I can speak for myself, Mickey.”
He moved nothing but his head (though his torso shifted an inch) so he could look down at me.
His eyes were communicating again.
This time they were communicating the fact that he really didn’t like Boston Stone.
Considering what I knew of Mickey, this would be something that, along with my own natural aversion to Mr. Stone, would have made me decline the man’s invitation.
Unfortunately, Mickey added words to his look so this didn’t happen.
“You’re not goin’ out with this guy.”
Was he being serious?
He couldn’t tell me what to do. He wasn’t my father, my brother or my lover.
Heck, he barely knew me!
All he knew about me was that he didn’t want me. I was his…“attractive” neighbor who he now did not even walk over to beg recipes from (okay, so Aisling didn’t know of any other recipes I had, but whatever).
He didn’t even return my email!
And he was off with beautiful, statuesque redheads, smiling at them, taking them to movies.
He couldn’t tell me who I could and could not see.
“I’m not?” I snapped.
“No,” he turned fully to me, an ominous fully. “You are not,” he enunciated each word clearly.
“Sorry?” I asked sarcastically. “When did you become my big brother?”
He was still enunciating clearly, and dangerously, when he stated, “I absolutely am not your big brother.”
“No, you’re not,” I retorted, tossing my hair, which I hoped was shining in the sun. And with my hair toss, I further hoped my fabulous highlights caught the rays and gleamed. “You’re my neighbor. And if I want to go out with someone, you can’t say boo to the contrary.”
“This guy is an asshole,” he bit off, jerking his thumb at Boston Stone.
I felt my eyes get big and I got up on my toes, leaning into him, hissing, “That’s insufferably rude, Mickey Donovan.”
“It isn’t rude if it’s the truth.”
“You may think so but you don’t say it in front of the man in question.”
“You do if he’s as big of an asshole as this asshole is,” Mickey shot back.
My eyes got wider and I leaned closer. “Stop being nasty!” I demanded.
“You been in town, what?” he asked then answered with another question he didn’t expect a reply to. “A coupla months? I lived here my whole life and trust me, I’m savin’ you from a load of misery, this guy gets interested in you,” he returned.
I rocked down to my stilettos. “I am a big girl, Mickey. All grown up and everything. I do think I can make such decisions for myself.”
“You do, and they’re not what I’m tellin’ you to do, you’d be wrong.”
I glared at him.
Then I pushed right past him, hand lifted and got in the space of Boston Stone.
“Boston,” I said as he took my hand, grinning arrogantly and more than a little obnoxiously at me. “A belated nice to meet you. I’m Amelia Hathaway.”
His hand tightened in mine as he murmured, “Amelia.”
I pulled my hand from his, asking, “Do you know Cliff Blue?”
“Of course,” he replied, inclining his head in a pompous way that actually was kind of creepy.
“I live there,” I announced, doing another hair toss and powering beyond the creepy. “And I have plans this evening but I’m free tomorrow. Are you?”
“I wasn’t,” he replied. “But I’ll be making a phone call and I will be.”
“Excellent,” I decreed. “Seven?” I went on to ask.
“I’d be delighted,” he said softly, his eyes dancing with humor and I could see that too was relatively malicious.
I didn’t care.
I’d go out with him once, just to stick it to Mickey.
Then I’d be done with Boston Stone.
And anyway, I had about seven new outfits that would be perfect for a date and I knew this even though I hadn’t been on a date in two decades.
“I’ll see you then,” I said.
“You will, Amelia.” He dipped his chin to me. “Looking forward to it.”
“And me,” I replied.
He gave me another arrogant grin then transferred it to Mickey.
“Donovan,” he murmured.
Mickey didn’t reply.
Stone looked back to me. “Until tomorrow, Amelia.”
“Yes, Boston. And please, feel free to call me Amy.”
Boston smiled before he turned and sauntered away.
I whirled on Mickey and tipped my head to the side. “See? All grown up and able to make decisions for myself.”
“What I see is a pattern here,” he retorted unpleasantly.
“Oh?” I asked with mock interest. “Do tell.”
Then Mickey told.
“First time I laid eyes on you, your ex was up in your face, cursing at you, threatening you, shouting right at you and acting like a total f*cking dick. It’s obvious he’s rich and up his own ass and didn’t give a shit you were alone, and because of that, you probably felt unsafe. It was just as obvious you were lettin’ him use you as his punching bag. Even if no woman deserves the way he was speakin’ to you, he just kept right on punching. Now, you know that guy you just made a date with is a total asshole and you made that date anyway. So that’s your pattern. You open yourself up for assholes to shit all over you. And if that’s the way you like it, baby, then no way in f*ck I’m gonna get in there to show you there’s another way.”
Before I could retort, he turned on his boot and prowled away.
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Magdalene series reading order and purchase links
(standalone novels with interconnected characters)
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