Destiny - Book #2
By Toni Blake
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Rachel Farris is not thrilled to be returning to the small hometown she left years ago. She’s a city girl now, with a good career in Chicago- a career she’s trying to save. Her company is downsizing and there’s a chance that Rachel might lose her hard-won position. Now is not the time to be leaving town but her grandmother needs help with the fall harvest at the family’s apple orchard (though, privately, Rachel thinks the older woman is just lonely) and Rachel has never learned how to say “no” to her family. Besides, it’s only for a few weeks. How bad could it be?
Mike Romo is all business when it comes to keeping his small town safe from reckless drivers. The sexy cop may have women falling at his feet but, while he's all for fun and games, he has neither the time nor the inclination for a relationship, especially with a spoiled city girl who flaunts the law by speeding in his town and whose last name is Farris. The Farris-Romo feud is legendary in the small town of Destiny and everybody (at least, everybody in the Romo family) knows it all started when Rachel’s grandmother, Edna stole the Romo’s apple orchard from Mike’s grandfather fifty-some years ago.
Mike and Rachel have three strikes against them before they even meet: (1) She’s “city” through and through while he’s settled firmly in Destiny, (2) their families have been enemies since before they were born and (3) Mike wants to buy (“steal” in Rachel’s mind) the Farris (formerly Romo) apple orchard. Add to that the fact that she thinks he’s a jerk and he thinks she’s a snob and it’s a wonder that they can even speak to one another without resorting to violence but overshadowing all those strikes is an intense physical attraction that just won’t go away and it’s only a matter of time before they do something about it.
“Just because I’m a good cop,” he said, “doesn’t mean I’m not a bad boy.”
“Ohhh,” she moaned as the sensation dug deeper into her, and she heard herself rasp, “I think you’re on the verge of making me a bad girl.”
(Okay, this is where I admit that I've always been attracted to bad boys and Mike is a very bad boy...in a very good way!) Even though Mike and Rachel succumb to the physical desire between them, that doesn’t mean the road to “happily-ever-after” is without its share of potholes.
They kissed some more and Rachel forgot the rest of the world existed though when Mike reached for the buttons on her jeans, it brought home for her once more exactly what was about to happen here. She pulled back and said, breathily, “I want to be clear, though – this doesn’t mean I like you.”
His answer came just as raspy. “Good – it doesn’t mean I like you, either. Now shut up and kiss me.”
I really enjoyed these two characters. Their desire sizzles off the pages while the snappy banter between them kept me flipping those same pages, eagerly anticipating what was to come next. There's deep emotion as well, as these are two people with solid barriers protecting their vulnerable hearts and layers that are slowly and expertly revealed to the reader and to each other as the story progresses. There are secrets - and, in Mike’s case, a tragic, heartwrenching event - in their pasts that have shaped the people they have become and opening themselves enough to trust and love will not come easily. I appreciated that Blake did not treat their fears and vulnerabilities lightly but, instead, used them to create a deeper, more complex and realistic relationship which, in turn, created a richer, more meaningful reading experience for me.
The secondary characters are intriguing and appealing, especially Rachel’s grandmother, Edna. She had me in stitches at times and in tears at others while reminding me throughout the story of just how much I miss my own grandma. In a parallel story that blends seamlessly into the present-day journey, Edna finally reveals to Rachel the events that led to her owning the apple orchard that was once the property of the Romo family and, without revealing any spoilers, let me just say that there's more to Granny than meets the eye! We also catch up with Mick and Jenny from One Reckless Summer and meet other friends who I’m hoping will one day have their own stories told. I can't wait to find out which characters will take center stage next.
Toni Blake's fictional town of Destiny, Ohio is rapidly becoming my favorite summer vacation destination!