Emerson “Emi” Blake dropped out of culinary school to care for her ailing mother, but she has bigger dreams than running St. Helena’s most popular pita cart. First on the menu: upgrade to a gourmet food truck. A new part-time job as a personal chef will definitely provide the funds, but it also forces her into close contact with her one and only one-night stand, Dax Baudouin, who’s daring her to try a second taste.
Former army Ranger Dax has a clear mission: come home, get healed, and get gone. Yet Emi’s tough-girl exterior and hidden soft side are even harder to resist than her mouthwatering baklava. After years of battles, he knows better than to try and rescue anyone—not that she’ll let him get close enough to try. Truth is, Dax is starting to think that Emi’s the one person who can save him…if he can just persuade her to give him another shot.
Source: ARC from Montlake Romance via NetGalley
What was that ending? I know this isn’t a good place to start a review, but seriously, what was that ending? Everything else about this book is just what I’d expect from a normal St. Helena tale – sexy hero, smart heroine, small town politics, family interference, lovely romance – and then… slam, The End! I, just, I, urgh.
Anyway, before I get lost in all of that, this was another highly enjoyable read from Marina Adair. I really liked Emerson. She’s strong and feisty and some might think her a little hard, but she’s also amazingly giving when it comes to those she loves. She gave up her dream to look after her sick mother and has spent the years since taking care of her grieving family. Her father seems lost in a fairyland and determined to keep Emerson’s little sister there with him. But Emerson is trying to move on, first with her food cart – the Pita Peddler – and next with her dream of owning a catering van, delivering Greek-inspired street food all year round.
I couldn’t help but like Emerson. The person she presents to the world is so different to the person she is with her family, except that she works hard at all times. She’s smart and resourceful, but also a little lost and baffled with how to help her father over his grief and bring her little sister into the real world. She’s also funny and I loved how she sparred with Dax – when she wasn’t running away from him, of course.
Dax is a wounded warrior, home from foreign wars thanks to shrapnel in his knee. But though his body might be back and healing, his head still isn’t quite right. He isn’t ready to come home yet, especially to his big family who are just dying to rush in and help him. Which is why he’s moving away just as soon as he’s medically fit for work. Despite wanting to avoid all ties and commitments, though, he can’t help being drawn to Emerson. Not just because she’s naturally nurturing, but because he wants to help her too. I loved how the pair of them fell reluctantly into their relationship, through arguments about green food and working with the Lady Bugs. Those kids and Dax are the cutest thing, and I adored Violet, Emerson’s little sister – right from the glitter bombs through the zombies and on to the survival course.
This is just a lovely, feel-good romance with some heat and so much heart. Emerson is a good person, Dax is also decent if a little confused about what he really wants. It’s all so lovely and charming and sweet – and then the end. It’s surprisingly abrupt and I wasn’t expecting it at all. The romance barely has a chance to get wrapped up before it’s all over, leaving the other side of the plot – Emerson’s food ambitions – completely unfinished. As nice as it was not to have everything tied up in a really cheesy, perfect bow, there wasn’t even time for Dax to give a rousing speech and promise to help. Nope, it was I love you. Full stop. Kicked out of the book. So long. Thanks for your attention, but time to go. Now. After investing so much time in these characters, I have to admit, I felt really let down by that ending. Not even knowing that aspects of it are sure to be mentioned in the next book make me feel any better. I can only hope that maybe my ARC was missing something and there is actually a proper ending in the final copy.
So, on the whole this is another wonderful slice of St. Helena life, with the kind of characters, romance and general fun you can expect from Adair. Just beware of that ending. Here’s hoping the next one is a little less abrupt.
Need You For Always is Out Now!
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