Upon first glance of this book I had one thought, and one thought only: there better be a few scenes featuring this adorable dog on the cover, or else I’m gonna be peeved! Happy to say my wish came true, pretty much from the opening scene.
What’s it About?
When Aidy Jones, hotel manager, sees Max Durrell in the lobby, she decides to join a dating service. Aidy knows what she needs and Max isn’t it. Her ideal man is attractive enough to have children with but not attractive enough to fall in love with. Ideally, he’ll also have some roofing skills.
Max Durell has returned to Demerest Cove to accomplish a lifelong dream. The Grand isn’t on the market yet, but convincing the eccentric owners to sell should be a piece of cake. His brothers will take care of the transaction. Max’s job is to flirt with Aidy Jones, the owners’ daughter, so she doesn’t interfere.
Flirting is easy. It’s friendship that’s the problem. Max can’t help enjoying Aidy and while he’ll never fall in love again (Been there. Bought the tux. Bride never showed up.) he is falling in like with her. Deeply in like. But any day now, The Grand will be his. And once Aidy learns Max is the one tearing her beloved hotel away from her, she’ll never want to set eyes on him again.
As far as meet-cutes go, this novel presents us with a good one. After all, it’s not every day you start a romance novel where the female lead literally falls into the arms of our dashing hunk by sliding down a hotel staircase banister holding a box of mice whilst being chased by a precocious young hotel guest behind her and avoiding an eager bloodhound running towards her. Phew, that was definitely a mouthful. Admit it though, pretty adorable. Although this novel does present us with a rather light-hearted and funny start, it does manage to expertly address the inner turmoil that both of our lead characters are suffering with.
Aidy took on the role of manager eight years ago to help her parents with their failing hotel. The business is draining money, as well as Aidy’s patience, energy, time, and love life. She’s doing all she can to keep the hotel afloat, while at the same time shoving down all of her feelings deep within her. Her frustrations, anger, sadness. And then Max comes along. He becomes someone to confide in, a shoulder to cry on, and someone who seems willing to help and comfort her. However, Aidy has gotten so use to pushing her feelings aside to focus solely on the hotel, that she might just end up pushing her feelings for Max aside too. It seems like it’s just a matter of time before she breaks under the pressure. The question is, will Max be there to catch her?
As for Max, he hasn’t been completely honest with Aidy about his presence at the Grand hotel. He’s there to keep an eye on things as his brothers go ahead with purchasing the hotel from Aidy’s parents. At first he basically lives life by the mantra that it’s not personal, it’s business. But as he spends more time with this selfless woman who will do anything to keep her home from falling apart, we see how Max is devastatingly conflicted when it comes to Aidy. He wants her to succeed, but at the same time his family’s purchase of the hotel will repair the reputation for him and his brothers in this seaside resort town. For his family to win, in a way it means Aidy must lose. The fact that Max is starting to fall in love with this headstrong woman makes his presence at the Grand all the more troublesome. Honestly I think this tumultuous aspect of the story with Aidy and Max both conflicted about their path in life and feelings for each other was probably the most intriguing and well developed feature of the entire novel.
Delightful Shenanigans or Added Weight?
So, long story short, the Grand hotel is an utter disaster. It’s basically falling down around itself. The roof is leaking, the rooms are dated, the plumbing is shit (pun absolutely intended), the garden is overgrown, the elevators keep breaking, and mice have started popping up throughout the old structure. It seems as though each new issue, the nose twitch of every mouse, is supposed to add a sense of humor to the story. Almost as though, here we go again! What other shenanigans will Aidy encounter today on the job. However, while there was a mild comedic aspect to it in the beginning, I couldn’t help but feel more and more depressed for Aidy as the story progressed.
Aidy is doing everything she can, pouring her heart and soul into this place, and sadly we see that no matter what she does it simply isn’t enough. With every toilet she manages to unclog, another temperamental guest will come with a complaint about something else. This woman is carrying around so much weight on her shoulders, and as more and more weight keeps being added through every additional setback I just wanted to shout out, “Oh please give her a break already!” Aidy is basically in a sinking ship in the middle of a hurricane, with nothing but a shot glass to try and bail out the water. However, on top of all these hotel breakdowns, there are two much more significant weights which are dragging Aidy down.
Sky Lark and Lemon Karma
Yes, you read that right. Sky Lark and Lemon Karma. Aka, Aidy’s mom and dad. These two are a rather bizarre lot. They’ve adopted some pretty out there names for themselves, and have shed the societal labels of mother and father. In my opinion, the two were never worthy of the titles in the first place. My goodness are they terrible people. The author does a fantastic job of really making us hate them. They have never once paid their daughter for her work at the Grand, and yet speak to her as though they are doing her the favor rather than the other way around. They consistently undermine Aidy’s attempts to try and improve the hotel, and don’t even bother to tell her that they’ve entered into negotiations to sell the property. I’ve got two middle fingers pointed right at these two sad excuses for parents.
Aidy definitely has her hands full when it comes to dealing with Sky Lark and Lemon Karma, but while growing up in the Grand hotel there were others that she came to rely on as surrogate parents. The staff. This is her true family. They have stuck by her through thick and thin, and remain loyal to her above her so-called parents. That being said, I really wanted to see more of a focus on her relationships with these staff members, specifically the doorman (owner of the beloved pooch on the cover), the head chef, and the head receptionist. Aidy states how these three characters mean the world to her, but it seems as though we really only get a surface look at these connections. I really wish we could have witnessed more moments where these three take on the maternal and paternal roles they are credited with. Sure, we see how each one basically warns Max to never even think about hurting Aidy, but I think there was more emotion which could have been brought to the table here.
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Durrell Brothers Trilogy, book 1. Oh I am definitely all in when it comes to the next two books in this trilogy. We get a few glimpses here and there of Max’s supportive, yet headstrong brothers, and I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for these two!
Should you read it? It’s gonna sound weird, but I almost wish this book had been billed more as a drama. The high points of the story always revolved around Aidy and Max debating over whether or not to take their flirtations further considering all of the personal drama they’re trying to hide from the world, and each other. Therefore, when we get these few glimpses of a disastrous online date for Aidy, or an annoyingly out-of-tune chorus group staying at the hotel, these moments of comedy almost seemed at odds with the emotional journey that Aidy and Max were traveling along. I almost wish the online dating aspect of the story had been replaced with more scenes of Aidy connecting with her familial staff. That being said, you definitely feel for the characters in this book. Whether it’s rooting for Aidy to succeed, for Max to open up, or for her parents to get a good slap in the face…you’ll have some pretty intense feelings one way or another!
Smut Level: Plenty of passionate kissing, but the sex scene itself isn’t discussed in detail. We go from a make-out panting session to the afternoon after.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Simply Romance Press. 296 Pages.