When Paige Hollister discovers her “Mr. Right” already has a “Mrs. Right,” she swears off men forever. Even more humiliating, she suddenly finds herself labeled the other woman and out of the teaching job she loves. So Paige does what every unemployed single woman staring thirty in the face does: She hightails it to the beach. Bad luck like hers is hard to outrun, however. Her getaway is stalled when her car breaks down in a small-town chock full of meddling, nosy residents. The worst of them being the local sheriff—none other than her estranged father.
Finally on top of the golf world, Tanner Gillette is poised to show everyone he’s not just an entitled playboy coasting through tournaments on his pedigree. That is until his life is turned upside down by a little girl who shows up on his doorstep with a birth certificate inexplicably bearing his name. Complicating matters more, the kid isn’t talking. When the stress of caring for a child whose mother is AWOL gives Tanner a bad case of the yips, he’s forced to enlist help from the one person in town who can’t wait to leave.
Sticking around Chances Inlet and her father’s shiny new, über-successful family isn’t on Paige’s to-do list. Especially when she’d prefer to keep her embarrassing incident under wraps. Yet she can’t walk away from the troubled little girl. Or the sexy Australian golfer who just might make her want to take a chance on trusting her heart again.
Tracy Solheim's Chances Inlet, North Carolina is one of my favorite places to visit. You have the beach, friendly citizens, a bookstore, ice cream shop, town green, and festivals aplenty. You have second chances for people who grew up there and others who fate brought to town. You have smiles, laughter (the kids are a hoot), heart-tugging emotion, and plenty of romantic chemistry. I mean, what's not to love, right? But, if that wasn't enough, you also have the large, supportive, fiercely-competitive, and loving McAlister clan, of which Paige's estranged father is a new member. Most of the McAlisters have already navigated their second chances to a happily ever after and now stand, ready and waiting, to welcome a clearly reluctant Paige into their lives, along with one very sexy pro golfer, complete with Australian accent, and an adorable little girl who may - or may not - be his daughter (no spoilers).
I loved the evolution of Paige and Tanner. Both dealing with personal issues of their own, neither is ready for any kind of relationship when they first meet, even though the mutual chemistry between them is undeniable. But both have something the other needs. Solheim guides them through a slow-burn relationship build, that includes one traumatized little girl, that changes all of them in profound ways. Their journey includes deeply emotional issues, giving them their due without adding too much heavy weight to the overall story. There's also plenty of humor, sweetness, sizzle, and meddling, well-meaning family to balance the angst.
While Paige and Tanner remain the primary focus of the romance in this book, it is very definitely an ensemble of characters who play significant roles. Family and friends are at the heart of this series and delightfully front and center in all of the books. I enjoyed Paige and Tanner's romance but also Paige's journey to reconciliation with her father as well as Tanner's path to peace after the tragic death of his brother. And, of course, I always enjoy the sports angle of Solheim's stories. It's fun to read a book featuring sports I enjoy when it's written by an author who clearly knows the topic.
I do think a reader new to Chances Inlet would be able to enjoy this book as a standalone. However, as someone who has read all the books (including Double Dog Dare, book two of Solheim's Milwaukee Growlers series in which Paige, best friend of heroine Summer Pearson, is introduced), it's a special treat to catch up with couples from earlier books as well as characters still waiting to find their HEA. I enthusiastically recommend all of the Chances Inlet stories, as well as Double Dog Dare (which can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone). The earlier Chances Inlet books are: Back to Before, All They Ever Wanted, and Second Chance Christmas.
If you're looking for a summer read that touches your heart, tickles your funny bone, and leaves you sighing with satisfaction, pick up a copy of Tracy Solheim's It Had to Be You. Oh, what the heck, pick up the whole series and get to know the whole McAlister clan.