Kiss Me Hello
By Grace Burrowes
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Mackenzie Knightley is the criminal trial attorney in the firm he founded with his younger brothers Trent (A Single Kiss) and James (The First Kiss). He is the best at what he does, the criminal lawyer prosecuting attorneys in Damson County, Maryland, most hate to face in the courtroom. Even with a ferociously busy calendar, Mac finds time for to work as a farrier. He is at the Damson County Therapeutic Riding Association working with a neglected horse when he learns that the new owner of the four-hundred acre farm on which the Knightley brothers grew up needs help with two draft horses she has just discovered on the farm. Because he has a feeling he may know the horses, Mac volunteers to provide the needed help. He may be prepared for Daisy and Buttercup, horses that his father bought shortly before his death, but he is not prepared for the farm’s new owner to be an outspoken blonde who has him wanting to know her better.
Sidonie Lindstrom views her move to Damson County as a stopgap measure. She has no plans to stay there, but buying a farm allows her to live more cheaply until her brother’s estate is settled. It also offers a better, safer place for her sixteen-year-old foster son, Luis Martineau. She knew rural life would be different from what she was used to, but nothing could have prepared her for the super-size horses who end up in her stable, her foster son’s affection for those horses, or the sigh-worthy neighbor who can shoe a horse, befriend a teenage boy, and send Sid’s heart beating triple-time.
It has been so long since Mac was romantically interested in a woman that his brothers are ganging up on him to push him into having a social life and the citizens of Damson Country are all abuzz over the friendly kiss Sid bestowed upon him in the local pizza parlor, but even all the attention is not enough to deter the normally spotlight-avoiding Mac from his interest in Sidonie. Their developing relationship is so promising that Mac decides not to mention that he’s a lawyer, a profession Sid loathes as much as she does the social workers who complicate her life with Luis. Of course, this omission causes trouble, but even though Sid’s sense of betrayal has her refusing to take his calls, Mac still proves a Knightley in shining armor when she needs a hero to help her defeat a self-important, heartless bureaucrat who tries to take Luis away
This is the third novel in Grace Burrowes’s Sweetest Kisses series, her first contemporary series. Mac and Sid are interesting, engaging characters who quickly have readers rooting for their HEA. Beneath Sidonie’s fierce independence and Mac’s need to fix every problem for those he cares about are two vulnerable people who eventually come to understand that they need each other. Luis is an appealing character, a believable teenager with the usual mood-swings, insatiable appetite for snack foods, and the paradoxical qualities of a boy growing into manhood. His conflicting loyalties to his birth family (the mother who is in prison and his two younger sisters) and to Sid and the family the two of them have created add another layer to his character. Fans of the first two books will enjoy seeing Trent and James and their respective families appear in this book. I appreciated that their appearance felt organic rather than contrived to please series-loving readers.
I am always a bit leery when an author who has written books I have loved in one subgenre of romance writes in another subgenre. Too often books in the new subgenre fail to measure up to familiar favorites. This was not true of Burrowes. Her gift for creating multidimensional characters with fascinating family ties that made the Windhams one of my all-time favorite historical series is evident in Kiss Me Hello and the other Sweetest Kisses books. These contemporary romances have earned a spot on my keeper shelves, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Burrowes will continue to write both historicals and contemporaries.
I highly recommend Kiss Me Hello. It can be read as a standalone, but why would you want to miss the delight of reading the first two books as well. They all get a thumbs-up from me.