Friday, May 1, 2015

Review: Two of Hearts by Christina Lee

Two of Hearts by Christina Lee
Publication Date: May 5th 2015 by NAL Trade
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

About the book:

A gripping standalone adult contemporary romance about finding yourself while taking a second chance at your first love…

Dakota Nakos was always the resilient, strong-willed achiever. But when her father dies and she’s entrusted with the family’s casino, she feels vulnerable, scared, and more than a little emotional —not exactly the best time to see an old lover she’s never really gotten over.

Dakota once meant the world to Shane Garrity. Then suddenly he left town to train as a U.S. Marshal, and their love for each other crashed into a memory. Now he’s come home for her father’s funeral, and one look at the girl he left behind stirs up both memories and regrets, and reignites a fire he feared he’d lost forever.

Dakota may be the same driven girl she always was, but she’s also changed in ways neither could have anticipated. She’s not just a young woman searching for own identity in the Native American community in which she was raised, but one questioning her new life outside her father’s shadow. Above all she wonders if Shane can push past her weakened defenses to rekindle what they once had, or whether the intense blaze between them will ultimately reduce her heart to ashes.

My Thoughts:
Growing up together, Dakota and Shane crushed on each other for years.  Shane was not only her brother’s best friend, but he was also a fixture in their family, close to all members.  Back in college they gave into their attraction and had a passionate romance, but insecurities prevented Shane and Dakota from expressing just how deeply they felt for one another, and their life goals took them in opposite directions.

Dakota had always known she’d take over the family’s successful casino and Shane wanted to be a US Marshal, which would take him away from home.  Dakota didn’t want to stand in the way of Shane’s dreams, so she didn’t protest when he announced his plans, but she was shattered when he left.  Wasn’t she enough for him to want to stay? Shane was heartbroken when Dakota just let him walk away without any fight.  Didn’t she feel their love was worth the work to stay together?  So they went their separate ways, but neither got over their first love or moved on.  

Now five years later, Shane is back to lend emotional and professional support after Dakota’s father is murdered.  The intense attraction and pull they felt sparks to life again as soon as they get near each other, but is it enough to rekindle what they had? 

“You’re still so goddamn gorgeous,” I said. Her eyes widened and held mine. “I always thought about those lips and eyes. How your body felt against mine.”—“So don’t tell me that it wasn’t something,” I said, tilting my head and looming over her. “At one time, it was everything.”

I really enjoyed this second chance romance.  Sometimes when you fall in love so young, immaturity and insecurities can get the best of you and really make a mess of things.  While their five year separation was painful to both Shane and Dakota, I felt it may have been needed.  The five years apart gave them each a chance to mature and get comfortable in their own skin.  I appreciated that Shane realized his past mistakes, one being his inability to let Dakota see how deeply he felt for he. This time around Shane made a big effort to let Dakota in and show her exactly how much she means to him.  Dakota was gutted when Shane left five years, but she didn’t allow Shane to see this, thinking she felt more for him than he did for her.  Dakota’s still worried about opening her heart to Shane just to have him leave again, but thankfully Shane’s persistent and they get to the heart of the matter: if you love each other as powerfully as they do, you make the effort to make it work!

Steamy scenes are far more satisfying when there’s a well established past, especially with all the ache of losing your first love. Every time Shane and Dakota were in the same room there was a palpable tension between them, stemming from hurt, attraction and intense longing.

Dakota’s father’s murder is unsolved and it soon becomes apparent that the rest of the family is at risk as well.  Christina Lee added a layer of suspense and danger with this mystery, providing a thrilling edge to this already addictive story.

4 Suns

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