The Hero Next Door
by Carrie Nichols
Small-Town Sweethearts - Book 6
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Release Date: February 22, 2022
Reviewed by PJ
Olive Downing has big dreams for her Victorian bed-and-breakfast. She doesn’t need her handsome new neighbor pointing out the flaws in her plan. But Cal Pope isn’t the average busybody. The gruff firefighter can be sweet, charming—and the perfect partner for the town fundraiser. Then Cal surprises her with two adorable rescue kittens. Maybe there’s a soft heart underneath his rough exterior that needs rescuing, too…
In the mood for a grumpy-sunshine romance? Check out this newest addition to Carrie Nichols' Small-Town Sweethearts series. We're back in Loon Lake, Vermont with two new characters: Olive, the former foster kid who aches for a husband, family. and friends of her own and Cal, a dedicated bachelor whose emotional baggage has him running from the faintest hint of a relationship.
When Olive wins a run-down Victorian house in Loon Lake, her first real home since losing her parents to a drunk driver when she was eleven, she sees it as an opportunity for new beginnings, to put down roots, make good friends, and, maybe, fall in love. Cal, who just happens to own the house across the street, sees the writing on the wall immediately when his friends start playing matchmaker and he wants no part of it. But Olive's generous nature and sunshine smile have him spending more and more time with her. Will he finally allow himself to make a commitment or will the demons of his past win once again?
I enjoy the complexity of Nichols' characters, the emotional baggage that holds them back from committing to love, and the issues that they have to work through, together, to find that happy ending. I enjoyed the evolution of both Olive and Cal in this story. They were each deeply impacted by events in their childhood that were evident in their adult views and actions. I enjoyed their journey and was happy with the conclusion though it wrapped up a little too easily for me considering Cal's behavior (I wanted more groveling). That's just me. The important thing is that the way it played out was true to Olive's personality and the epilogue showed a true partnership with full commitment on both sides. I'm happily convinced that they're living their happily ever after.
If you're a kitten lover, you will definitely enjoy the antics of Mischief and Mayhem and the way these two little rascals bring Cal and Olive together. I adored them.
Fans of the series will also no doubt enjoy seeing many of their favorites pop up here and there throughout the book but, as I mentioned earlier, Cal and Olive are new to the series. If you haven't read the earlier books, you can absolutely jump in with this one and not miss a beat.
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