Series: Thunder Point #8
Published by Harlequin MIRA on June 30, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: the publisher through NetGalley
Also in this series: The Wanderer, The Newcomer, The Hero, The Chance, The Promise, The Homecoming, One Wish, Wildest Dreams
Also by this author: My Kind of Christmas, The Wanderer, The Newcomer, The Hero, The Chance, The Promise, The Homecoming, 'Tis the Season, One Wish, Never Too Late, Wildest Dreams, What We Find, The Life She Wants, Any Day Now
After losing her child, Ginger Dysart was lost in grief. But since moving to Thunder Point, a small town on the Oregon coast, and with the help of her cousin Ray Anne, Ginger is finally moving forward. Her job at the flower shop is peaceful and fulfilling, and she's excited to start her first big assignment, assisting with the Lacoumette wedding.
In spite of her lasting heartache, Ginger finds herself swept up in the pleasure of the occasion. But the beauty of the Lacoumette farm and the joy of the gregarious family are ruined by an unfortunate encounter with the bride's brother, Matt. Struggling with painful memories of his own recent divorce, Matt makes a drunken spectacle of himself and Ginger when he tries to make a pass at her, forcing Ginger to flee the scene in embarrassment.
But when Matt shows up at the flower shop determined to make amends, what started out as a humiliating first meeting blossoms into something much deeper than either of them expected. Discovering they have a lot in common, they form a solid friendship, though everyone around them worries that Ginger will end up with a broken heart yet again. But if Ginger has the courage to embrace the future, and if Matt can finally learn to let go of the past, there may still be hope for a happy ending.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series is back with A New Hope. Despite the Star-Wars-esque title, the book is a warm, hopeful second-chance romance about two people whose first marriages were to the wrong people entirely, and who find new hope in one another.
What I liked:
- We met Ginger Dysart in One Wish; she’s RayAnne’s niece, the young woman who is grieving the death of her baby from SIDS. I was really hoping that Ginger would get her own book, and I’m glad she did. She is much more fleshed out in this book (of course, since she’s the heroine.) She has come past the worst of her deep depression by the beginning of this book – not that she’s finished grieving, but she’s no longer withdrawing from the world. I love her hard-won wisdom, her willingness to face up to her past mistakes, and her determination to get on with her life even in the midst of her pain.
- When Matt is his best self, he’s caring, charming, and kind. Even early on when they’re just friends, he cares for Ginger, and he’s usually very good for her. And the sibling relationship between Matt and Peyton is a nice blend of exasperation on his part, bossiness on hers, and familial love underneath it all.
- Both Ginger and Matt must eventually recognize and acknowledge their own contribution to their first marriage’s failure before they can fully commit to each other. Ginger is quicker to do this than Matt, but then, she’s had longer to think about it. I’m glad that Carr emphasizes this issue, because while both Ginger’s and Matt’s first spouses were far from ideal, it’s rare that one person is solely to blame when a relationship fails. Too often, romance novels make the “ex” into the bad guy/gal while tacitly exonerating the main character, but that’s not always or even often the case. I also appreciate Carr’s related message: recognizing and taking responsibility for your past choices and actions helps you make better decisions the second time around.
- I love that Matt and Ginger take their time getting involved. In fact, for quite a while they are determined to be friends, nothing more. It was obvious that that situation wasn’t going to last, but a slow-building romance is such a nice change from all the insta-love (or insta-lust) stories out there!
- I also enjoyed the chance to catch up with Grace and Troy from One Wish. They’re trying to get the house finished, move Grace’s ailing mother Winnie into it, and plan their own wedding. Since Grace is Ginger’s friend and employer, we see a fair bit of them; in typical Carr fashion, the continuing story of characters from previous books forms a major subplot in the current novel. We see a bit of Scott and Peyton as well, but much less of the other residents of Thunder Point.
- The Grace-Troy-Winnie subplot introduces Lin Su Simmons and her son Charlie, who will be featured in the next Thunder Point book, Wildest Dreams (August 25, 2015.) I really like 14-year-old Charlie, a delightful nerd, and the overprotective Lin Su has definite potential as a heroine.
What bothered me:
- Overall, the book didn’t quite sweep me away like a lot of Carr’s Virgin River series did. I can’t quite put my finger on why. I enjoyed it; I like the hero and and really like and admire the heroine, and the town and its residents are nice enough… but I still miss the warmth and almost frontier spirit of Virgin River. I don’t feel quite the same spark from the Thunder Point books.
- I saw Matt’s secret coming a mile away, well before the very pointed hint dropped in dialog between him and his ex-wife. And I still can’t quite understand why he never told anyone about it, even his family. However, the scene where he finally opens up and deals with it is moving and believable.
- Matt’s inability to let go of his anger and resentment toward his ex-wife, and how that makes him behave on one or two occasions, sent up warning flares in my mind. It’s not part of his fundamental character (see below), but it still made me uncomfortable at the time.
- The first encounter between Matt and Ginger really bothered me. I’m glad they are both able to move past it, but drunkenness is no excuse for rude behavior or harassment. I’m not sure the scene was even necessary; Matt and Ginger could have met in any of several other ways.
Put so bluntly, the last three items I didn’t like could easily have outweighed all the things I did like – but they don’t. That’s due to two factors: 1) the fact that Carr doesn’t really excuse Matt’s behavior either, and 2) Carr’s ability to convince me (through skilled writing and realistic scenes) that the Matt that Ginger and I see during the majority of the book is the real Matt, and the occasional asinine stuff is coming from the pain and anger that he hasn’t dealt with yet. As he begins dealing with those feelings, he could return to being the person he really is inside – or better, because of what he had learned. That’s very much in keeping with what I know and believe from my own experience, and it made Matt both believably flawed and believably trustworthy in the long run.
If you’re looking for a warm, light-but-never-fluffy romance to read this summer, stick A New Hope in your vacation bag. And enjoy returning to Thunder Point!
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The Thunder Point series in order:
- The Wanderer (review)
- The Newcomer (review)
- The Hero (review)
- The Chance (review)
- The Promise (review)
- The Homecoming (review)
- One Wish (review)
- A New Hope (forthcoming)
- Wildest Dreams (forthcoming)
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Clean Sweep ARC Challenge (May 2015)