Title: Staying for Good
Author: Catherine Bybee
Series: Most Likely To #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction
Available: 24th Jan
Zoe Brown may have been voted Most Likely to Never Leave River Bend, but the paper-thin walls and suffocating air of her family’s double-wide trailer were not what she wanted for her life. Other than BFFs Melanie and Jo, the only thing that kept Zoe sane during high school was her boyfriend, Luke.
She didn’t just leave, she escaped—turning her back on the shame of her black-sheep siblings and imprisoned dad. Now a celebrity chef in Dallas, she can afford all the things she never could have growing up. But when she returns to rustic, ruggedly beautiful River Bend, Zoe has to face all that she abandoned—including Luke.
While Luke was a refuge for Zoe in the past, he knows they inhabit totally different worlds now. Anchored by his parents and his job as a mechanic in his father’s shop, Luke never felt the urge to leave River Bend—until Zoe’s return.
But when the two rekindle their old flame, Zoe is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: remain in River Bend and confront her past before it destroys her, or say good-bye to everyone she’s ever loved…again, this time for good.
Source: ARC from Montlake Romance via NetGalley
At first this second chance romance seemed like a familiar small town girl made good returning home and reconnecting with a former flame type of tale. It’s a story told many times before and a trope that I often enjoy. This one, though, packs quite an emotional punch with Zoe’s family issues getting firmly and painfully in the way.
I really liked both Zoe and Luke. She’s a strong woman who has worked extremely hard to put her past behind her and achieve the success she thoroughly deserves, while Luke is a good guy who has no hard feelings for the way things have turned out. They have such a strong connection that it’s easy to see why, even through all the years, they still care deeply for each other – even if they’ve tried to ignore it.
I loved seeing them reconnect. Their relationship is great to read about and they make an excellent couple. Of course there are troubles along the way, but Luke in particular is amazing throughout, always willing to try. I adored him.
But this book is more than just the romance. Zoe’s family problems are dark and deep and play a very important role in how things turn out. They are dark and heart wrenching, but deeply compelling and kept me gripped to the page.
In all I really enjoyed this. It’s romantic and emotional and has some seriously likeable characters, and isn’t afraid of tackling deeper, darker issues such as domestic abuse. If you’re looking for a romance with a little bit more than feel good fluff, give this a try. It still has lovely light moments, but it also has depth. I will definitely be looking out for the next book in this series – and catching up on the first one in the meantime.
Staying for Good is out January 24th.
Visit Catherine Bybee for more details.