Release Date: Out now
Welcome to Hartwell, a quiet seaside escape where uncovering old secrets could lead one woman to discover the meaning of a love that lasts…
While Doctor Jessica Huntington engages with the inmates at the women’s correctional facility where she works, she’s always careful to avoid emotional attachments in her personal life. Loss and betrayal taught her that lesson long ago. But when she comes across a set of old love letters in the prison’s library and visits the picturesque town of Hartwell to deliver them to their intended recipient, she finds herself unable to resist the town’s charm—and her attraction to the sexy owner of a local bar proves equally hard to deny.
Since his divorce from his unfaithful ex-wife, Cooper Lawson has focused on what really matters: his family and the boardwalk pub they’ve owned for generations. But the first time Jessica steps into his bar, Cooper is beyond tempted to risk his heart on her. Yet as their attraction grows hotter and Jessica remains stubbornly closed off, he begins to realize it will take more than just passion to convince her there’s only one real thing in life worth fighting for….
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
I really love the setting of a small seaside town as the backdrop of Samantha Young’s latest new book in the start of a brand new series. The One Real Thing is also different in the feel and tone compared to her previous series, which I really liked! The heroine, Jessica, lives an insular world due to a past that is tragic and traumatic, which is something she tries not to dwell on. She doesn’t have many attachments to other people other than a close childhood friend and a guard who works at a women’s prison where Jessica works as a doctor. But her life changes when she comes across several letters hidden in a copy of Pride and Prejudice that is written by an inmate to an old lover asking for forgiveness.
Jessica is curious and moved by the letters. She tracks down the recipient to a small seaside town of Hartwell so that he could learn the real events of why his ex lover left him. But Jessica ends up getting drawn to the local bar owner called Cooper who is instantly attracted to her. Sparks slowly sizzle between them. Even though Jessica is wary and insular with the way she approaches relationships, and has only embarked in casual relationships, she finds herself deeply emotional with Cooper–and he is also feeling the same about her.
I enjoyed how their relationship evolved, although I wasn’t too keen on Cooper’s ex who was to one-dimensional, and I am not keen on how the annoying ex wife/lover trope tries to create drama, which in this case was only a minor irritant. It added nothing to the plot or their character development because Cooper had moved on from his ex-wife and was very much in love with Jessica from the moment he met her. I really liked how he was determined to win her over and was patient with her self-doubts. He was a fantastic hero and Jessica was an engaging heroine, even though I initially found it hard to warm up to her. However, I did like that she embraced her newfound emotions and bravely took a step to embark in a relationship with Cooper and decided to reject her old life and fears.
I also really liked the inhabitants of the town who were quirky and outgoing. It adds to the small town atmosphere as well as colour and vibrancy to the series. I am also hopeful that we would get to see their stories in future books, especially that of shy book store owner next to Cooper, and that of Bailey and Vaughan who are both hotel owners who have a funny antagonistic relationship.
The only aspect of the book that I was disappointed in was the conflict towards the end of the book. It didn’t entirely work for me because it was out of the blue and I felt it was a bit forced, especially in how that tied in with Jessica’s past.
Nonetheless, The One Real Thing is an engaging start to the series which has a wonderful small town feel that is filled with entertaining and fun characters that I am definitely looking forward to reading about. The romance was also appealing and I loved how it slowly developed over the course of the book which was filled with heat and tenderness.
I give The One Real Thing a B-