Author: Raneé S. Clark
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Date: January 1, 2019
Publisher: Sweetly Us Press
A hometown hero that’s suffering a personal crisis. A single-mom who’s back on her feet again. And the what-ifs they finally have a chance of seeing come true.
A year after her divorce, Chelsea Lewis spends most of her days working part-time at her cousin’s bakery and hiding veggies in her picky son’s lunches. Then she reconnects with an old friend who helps Chelsea in all the ways she’s forgotten she needs—including romantic ones.
Former football player, DJ Kaiser, is back in his hometown, working as a fireman to serve his community, but after nearly burning down his own house with a barbeque and wrecking the Chief’s truck, his mistakes are stacked against him—until he sets out to ease the stress of Chelsea’s load. Serving her has him feeling like a hero again.
When Chelsea’s ex shows up and begs Chelsea to move closer so his young son doesn’t grow up without his father, Chelsea and DJ have to consider what’s best for Chelsea’s little family, even if that means sacrificing the relationship that has saved them both.
Rating: Mild. Mild kissing.
I enjoyed getting to know DJ and Chelsea and all their flaws, quirks, and strengths. They felt very realistic. Chelsea has been living at her parents home recovering from a divorce, and struggling with her two year old’s resulting behavior. It was interesting that in a situation that she feels helpless, she chooses to exert control in what she feeds her son and allows him to consume. There is definitely some mom guilt there. I liked her attitude towards her relationship with her ex-husband Brady. They are friends and do their best to be considerate of each other. The fact that DJ is Brady’s close friend and hers from high school make them both feel conflicted when they reconnect and begin a romance. It was nice that they fell right back into their friendship so they had that foundation when they began to consider more, and they went in with their eyes open as to what that could mean for Brady. Some drama and angst ensues of course, and they each are tested with their vulnerabilities and levels of self-confidence and confidence in each other. DJ is struggling with his job and future career path, which made him more susceptible to doubt even though he is generally a confident person. I appreciated that the author included a spiritual aspect with Chelsea turning to the Lord in prayer, especially since the characters are portrayed as active members of the Church. I think it would have felt shallow without showing that Chelsea, DJ, and the other characters live their beliefs. Overall, this is a sweet romance that explores the unexpected transitions we go through in life and the importance of friends and family to support and encourage us.
I quite liked this story. It dealt with difficult things as family dynamics are hard to navigate after a divorce. I liked that Brady and Chelsea made an effort to be friends for their son and could rationally talk about issues. They might not like every choice the other makes but they still tried to work together. Far too often that doesn’t happen and the children suffer for it. And then add the awkward situation of Chelsea being interested in her ex’s best friend. I suspect that some readers don’t think that it would be realistic to have that friendship remain in any form but it can happen. My grandparents were divorced and remained friends. My grandfather remarried and grandmother was in a long term relationship as well and the group went on vacations together. They got along fine. So I think that while it might be awkward to navigate initially I believe it could happen.
I found Chelsea to be a little uptight in her parenting as she was trying to compensate for an absentee dad. I think she could have relaxed a little and accepted help. There was so much she could not control so she held fast to what she could control. Her insisting that her son only eat her homemade healthy foods was an attempt to have some control. Unfortunately it resulted in a power struggle with her son. She wanted every bite to “count” but I kept thinking he would probably eat more bites if she’d stop trying to control it so much. The reality is that her son was also trying to have control over something in his life.
That being said, she is the mom. She gets to make those decision especially when dad isn’t around. Just because I would make different choices, it doesn’t necessarily mean she is wrong. And the aunt or grandparents or whoever need to follow mom’s wishes.
I liked DJ and thought he was a kind and caring person. I felt bad that he struggled so much to find his place off the football field. My one big question was what did he end up doing as a career? He moved and we were never told what he did after that.
This book could be a Hallmark movie if you were to remove the specific denominational references. It is specific to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but can be enjoyed by anyone if you don’t mind a little prayer and church terminology, etc
Sex: no. References to getting married due to teen pregnancy but that was long before the book begins.