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Review: Holly Lane by Toni Blake

Publisher: Avon
Where did you get the book: e-ARC
Release date: November

*This review contains minor spoilers about secondary character storyline*

Sue Ann Simpkins is working hard to rebuild her life and find some holiday spirit. A weekend away from Destiny in a cabin on nearby Bear Lake seems like the perfect Christmas gift to herself — until her ex’s best friend. Adam Becker, shows up at the door, claiming he cabin is his! And if that’s not trouble enough, how had she never noticed how gorgeous he was?

Alone for the holidays and forced to play a reindeer at the local department store, Adam’s been feeling rather Scrooge-ish himself. But finding the smart, sexy woman he’s admired since elementary school waiting in the house he rented is helping to brighten his humbug mood. And when a sudden snowstorm strands them together in very close quarters, leading to one very hot night together, Adam soon realizes that what he really wants for Christmas is a second chance at love. Now all he has to do is convince Sue Ann. . .

*Blurb taken from Netgalley*

This review nearly didn’t get written because of the format from the Kindle galley. It made the book nearly unreadable but I pushed on. All I can say to whoever does the formatting, pretty please supply a Kindle e-galley, and not one that automatically gets formatted to PDF for Kindle. It’s not working, and to be frank, I don’t find it professional sending out ARCs that are frankly, very poor to read.

Anyway, back to the review. Holly Lane is the fourth book in the Destiny series. I really disliked the first book because of the lack of condom use and the weird first hook up connection between the hero and heroine, but I really liked the second book, and loved the third book :D. So I was hoping Holly Lane would carry on in the same vein.

It’s no surprise (may have mentioned it a time or two) that I’m a big reader and fan of the friends-to-lovers trope. Holly Lane does go down this route, but it’s quite different as the hero, Adam, is in fact best friends with the heroine’s now ex-husband. Sue Ann was broken hearted when her husband and childhood sweetheart told her out of the blue that he was in love with another person, and that he was leaving her. This all takes part in the prologue, and I know that some readers don’t like prologues, but I liked it as you see the heartbreak and misery Sue Ann feels — and with a young daughter, Sue Ann feels it that much tougher.

Six months later, Sue Ann takes a mini break for herself before the Christmas period — which will be the first time she and her daughter Sophie will be without her now ex-husband, Jeff. Jeff is now cheerfully hamming it out with his new love, Ronnie, and is totally oblivious to the hurt he is causing Sue Ann and their daughter. But her solitude is rudely interrupted in the form of good friend Adam, who happened to book the same cabin Sue Ann is staying in. But due to a blizzard, Adam bunks down in the same cabin with Sue Ann and sparks fly between them.

Now whilst I do love the friends-to-lovers trope, unfortunately, Sue Ann’s and Adam’s attraction and connection didn’t work for me. For all the years they knew one another, I found it hard to believe that within the night, they are suddenly attracted to one another and can’t keep their hands off one another. To me, it didn’t feel real, and I didn’t believe the connection because mainly Adam is supposedly the best friend of Sue Ann’s ex-husband. He doesn’t think, but dives deep in with Sue Ann. It just felt off for me. Adam is also a divorcee and he’s on his own over Christmas as his sons are staying with his ex-wife’s in-laws. All of this almost felt mechanical, as all these scenes were put in place for Adam and Sue Ann to get together, but the emotional connection was missing.

I found that their relationship improved as I got further into the book, and I liked Adam’s interaction with Sophie, and the sex scenes were done very well. But I still had trouble believing why they were together. I also didn’t buy how her ex-husband, who was the love of her life and never treated her cruelly before, suddenly does what he does and has no respect for Sue Ann and Sophie. There was also a scrooge like theme in the form of Adam, and those weird dreams he had felt over the top for me.

Sue Ann through out the book was torn between getting with Adam or not, and she ran hot and cold. There is a situation where I found she totally overreacted, and the blame was put on Adam which I found myself thinking, huh? Even though their attraction and connection got stronger, I found their romance to be just…off. The connection wasn’t there for me.

I enjoyed seeing past characters that featured in Holly Lane and I’m eagerly awaiting Amy’s story, but there was no sign of her love interest — which I’m still hoping is Logan.

There is sort of a second storyline with Mick and Jenny, where Jenny suddenly decides she wants children — despite marrying Mick, knowing and accepting that he doesn’t want any. Yet she changes her mind, and gets upset and mad with him when he tells her no. I really thought that was a shitty thing for Jenny to do, and I would love to see a couple be happy in a romance without thinking and feeling that having a baby is the must for a HEA. And the ending when Mick finally made his decision really grated on me.

All in all, I found Holly Lane to be a pleasant read, but I found it lacking in emotional connection between the hero and heroine, and because I didn’t really believe in them, I had trouble believing in their romance.

I give Holly Lane a C-

By Lou

One thing that Lou loves most is her HEA in romances.

2 replies on “Review: Holly Lane by Toni Blake”

Oh wow, I guess it is that time of year soon huh. At least I don’t have to play a reindeer at a shopping mall =)

@Lexi Yup, it’s that time of year again and I do have to say it was quite strange reading a Christmas novel back in August lol.

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