I can go either way with a second-chance-at-love story. Sometimes, they fall flat, because I feel like I missed the best part, where the couple initially falls in love. Other times, it works, because you have a real reason to believe in the characters’ emotional investment, almost from the beginning. It can make you care about their feelings, without feeling rushed. For me, this story fell into the second category. I didn’t feel like I missed anything, as the author filled in the pieces from the past. I cared about the hero; I felt his hurt. Maybe a bit too well… because it took me a while to get on-board with the heroine.
It’s been six years since Lola Valentine walked away from Denys and broke his heart. She was a beautiful dancer with dreams of becoming an actress. He was a young noble, entranced with her charm and willing to do anything to keep their affair from ending –even marrying her, despite their difference in station. But just as he was about to propose, Lola told him she got a better offer from his business partner, Henry, and went back to the States to pursue a career as an actress.
Now Henry is dead. And he’s given Lola his shares of the theater he shared with Denys. She returns to London with ambitions of not only running the theater, but acting in its productions. Denys only wants her to stay far, far away. It’s taken him years to mend his heart and to regain the respect of his family. Seeing Lola brings back all of the old hurts –and desire. But no matter how he tries, she refuses to keep her distance. Despite what it means for him personally, he has no choice but to make room for her in his professional life.
Of course, we come to learn that Lola had her reasons for what she did. Of course, she didn’t leave him for another man. Of course, she was being noble… well, noble-ish. But I just kept feeling Denys’s hurt and betrayal. I resented Lola, not only for her initial betrayal, but for the cavalier way she came back, knowing how she stomped on his heart and expecting him to get over it. Even as her reasoning came out, I struggled to forgive her –and found Denys did it much easier than I did.
I did, eventually, come around to the romance, if for no other reason than I wanted Denys to be happy. But it wasn’t really until the end of the book that I rooted for Lola. The thing was –there wasn’t really that much different about their circumstances the second time around than the first (when an HEA was so unthinkable.) I felt like the ending was a little… easy, but by then, I was just ready to get past the idea they couldn’t make it work.
That aside, I did enjoy the book for the most part. It’s book 4 in a series, but it holds up fine as a standalone. I was engaged, especially with the hero, and I cared what happened. I may go back and check out some of the earlier books.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
No Mistress of Mine
by Laura Lee Guhrke
Release Date: August 30, 2016