Title: The Valentine’s Quest
Author: Melissa McClone
Series: Love at the Chocolate Shop #5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short novel
Keep your competition close…and your heart even closer.
When Nevada Parker travels to Marietta, Montana, she anticipates enough peace and quiet to finish her PhD dissertation. Cupidville turns out to be anything but quiet. In fact, it looks like Valentine’s Day—her least favorite holiday—exploded all over the small town.
Among the sea of red hearts, “Be Mine” signs, and pink, pink, pink, Nevada spots a flyer for a multi-day race called The Valentine Quest. The grand prize—a luxury tropical vacation—would be the perfect welcome-home gift for her brother who’s leaving the military.
Dustin Decker sure could use a break from giving city slickers sleigh rides—and from the now ex-girlfriend who issued an ultimatum. Even with a bum knee from his bull riding days, the race’s grand prize is as good as his—until he realizes he needs a partner for some of the more complicated tasks.
He makes a strategic pact with the prim, bookish Nevada. But with a kiss, their unlikely alliance turns into something more…and soon racing isn’t the only thing on their minds. As the finish line nears, they must decide if the grand prize is worth more than what they’ve found together…or if one of them will walk away empty handed—and broken hearted.
Source: Review copy from Tule Publishing via NetGalley
This series is just full of chocolate and charm and cheer, making each read a delicious treat and this one is no different. Nevada is smart but wary of trusting handsome men, Dustin is charming but wary of commitment, and both seem somewhat stuck in a rut. Their lives are comfortable but not quite as fulfilling as they could be. Then along comes the Valentine’s Quest and everything looks set to change.
Nevada has an excellent reason for hating Valentine’s Day, and since she isn’t the most adventurous of people the idea of a quest does not appeal. Until she hears about the prize and thinks what a great gift a holiday to Fiji would be for her brother. It also might be nice to puncture a little of Dustin’s arrogant confidence. Because Dustin is determined to win this prize. He wants a break from the ranch and somewhere tropical would do very nicely, especially if it comes with a no string’s fling – and a chance to get a little closer to brainy Nevada wouldn’t go amiss either.
But there’s more to both of them than first appears. Nevada isn’t complete oblivious to the realities of the world and Dustin’s not quite as arrogant as he sometimes makes out. Together they make a surprisingly good team, once things settle down between them, and despite their obvious differences, they also get along extremely well. I liked that Dustin could ground Nevada, while she could push him past his rut. They care for each other too and share a nice chemistry that made reading about them enjoyable.
I also loved the quest, and not just because it was a fun excuse to run around Marietta, visiting familiar old haunts. I liked how it also gave both Nevada and Dustin a chance to show off other sides of themselves, beyond what they usually showed the world. I would have liked a little more about their future and their plans, career-wise, because these two have a lot of options and thinking ahead of them, so it might have been nice to have experienced some of it.
However, on the whole, I found this easy, enjoyable fun, full of warmth and charm, and another worthy addition to this lovely little series. I also hope this means that Melissa McClone will return with York’s story in the not too distant future. I’m very curious about the final Parker sibling.
The Valentine’s Quest is Out Now.
Visit Melissa McClone for more details.