Publisher: River Hill Press
Publish Date: Out now
How we got this book: ARC from the author
Good girl gone bad… Evie Bell couldn’t wait to get out of the small town that had labeled her a goodie two-shoes growing up so she could let out her more daring side. Selling sex toys might not have been the career she envisioned when she left Fairview, TN, for Las Vegas to become a showgirl, but she’s proud of her hard-earned success. Now, forced to return to the town she’d hoped never to see again to care for her ailing aunt, she will need every bit of that pride to get along with those who disapprove of her way of life.
Bad boy gone good… Griffin Barstow was given a choice at eighteen: jail or the military. He chose the military. Now he’s come home to Fairview to run for sheriff. But small towns have long memories and the last thing he needs while trying to convince voters he’s turned his life around is an attraction to a completely inappropriate woman.
Evie would like to avoid Griffin entirely, but her aunt’s store is in trouble only the law can help her solve. And when sparks begin to fly, both will have to decide whether a future together is possible given the issues of the past.
This blurb came from the author’s website.
E: I have read a few of Curtis’ other works, romantic suspense, and found them compelling if not exactly comfortable so when I saw the blurb for this one and it appeared to be a small-town contemporary I decided to give it a try. Plus I liked the idea of turning strongly held perceptions around while dealing with the close attention of a small town who can’t wait to get the latest gossip. I ended up enjoying this story and I am rather curious to see where Curtis takes this world.
Has: This is my first book of hers, but I really liked the premise of a bad boy being good as a hero, while the heroine use to be a good girl now seen bad by her small town. I also really enjoyed it because I liked the overall tone, and atmosphere of the small town residents and the gossip that eschews with Evie’s arrival and the impact it had.
E: Evie really didn’t want to return to Fairview. Her reluctance was obvious from the very beginning but regardless of how unwelcome she felt, she never considered staying away or leaving before her aunt was capable to work and live on her own again. I really liked her initial dedication and when she realized her aunt’s business needed help she came up with a variety of different ideas and put them into motion even against resistance. Yet as much as she flouted the town’s general conservative nature, she was extremely sensitive to their thoughts and opinions and how quickly others were judged by spending time in her general vicinity. Between the less than welcoming atmosphere and negative associations Evie was sure this would be a temporary pause before resuming her life in Las Vegas. Then her former unrequited crush showed up and kept turning up. Somehow Evie found herself dragged into the Fairview community as over time perceptions started to change.
Has: I loved Evie’s character, even though she was faced with suspicions and regarded as being ‘loose’ due to her living in a scandalous city like Las Vegas, she did have a kind heart, and patience with some of the flack she got. I also liked how she managed to change some stubborn held views with helping out her aunt, and helping other people who had problems in Fairview. Over the course of the book, Evie grew as a character, learning and realising aspects of herself when she returned home and I liked that she stood her ground and was determined in not letting small town life intimidate her. I also loved the humour as well, which was authentic and realistic, when Evie starts introducing the sex toys parties, or conversations about romance books, had me giggling out loud.
E: I had mixed feelings about Griffin. I appreciated how he turned his life around and loved the two options he was provided but in certain ways I had a hard time with his timing. Griffin was the ultimate town bad-boy who now reformed was walking the straight and narrow complete with determining exactly what type of woman he was going to marry as part of this conservative life. He was running for sheriff when Evie came back into town and with their first meeting he was intrigued. From there his intrigue turned into certain attraction but she didn’t fit into his life, and certainly not during election season. However, as he spent more time around her and started to learn who she really was he had a hard time remembering why he should leave her alone. After the number of rejections between the two of them I found the timing of his decision to openly date Evie questionable and made me wonder about some of his motives. However, as their relationship progressed, Griffin ended up back on my hero column.
Has: I totally agree, it actually took me awhile to warm up to his character, and I never got the sense of knowing him compared to Evie who was much more developed and likable. I was also not keen on him being concerned about appearances for getting involved with Evie publicly, even though I understood his motives due to his job and reelection campaign. However as their relationship progressed and despite the few barriers they had with each other, their romance was a lovely slow burn especially towards the end because Griff redeemed himself somewhat in the second half.
E: One of the things I liked about the overall story was the interactions between different people. I found the long standing rivalries, the teen squabbles which carried over into adulthood, and the shaking up of the status quo entertaining. I also enjoyed watching Griffin and Evie grow emotionally. Evie had to face her very real fear of rejection and start to explain why certain things happened instead of letting people just make assumptions. Griffin also had to decide what was important to him – his mental image of his perfect life or actually opening himself to the possibility of a real life. More than Evie and Griffin changed, several other members of the town also grew which made the story as a whole seem much more well-rounded and added to my enjoyment.
Has: This was one of the highlights of the book, the supporting cast of characters of Fairview and their interactions as well as the humour, and even tensions they had with each other. It was authentic with the way they dealt with their issues and I can understand the pressure of living with small town life but at the same time, the change was a good thing for a lot of the characters. I liked that both Evie and Griff realised and learned from each other and the impact the developments that she brought to the town. It also helped to cement their romance as well, because they both faced their issues and problems.
E: I enjoyed this first installment of Goody’s Goodies and the variety of different characters introduced. Between the undercurrents of tension, the small town, and the inclusion of the sex toy industry I had a lot of fun with Fairview’s inhabitants and visitors. I thought once the romance between Evie and Griffin really got started it was great to see and I even understood some of the delay in the beginning. Evie needed to know she was accepted for who she was and her skills while Griffin needed to know she wanted a home, not just a place to stay. I thought how Griffin reassured the last of Evie’s fears was incredible sweet. I am really looking forward to seeing where Curtis takes this series.
I give Toying with His Affections a B
Has: Overall this was a sweet, and funny tale of small town life with a lovely slow burn romance, although I agree it took awhile for that to kick off. I loved the humour and the idiosyncrasies of the inhabitants of Fairview who were memorable and well fleshed out along with the drawbacks it can bring, living in a small town. I was also thoroughly entertained with the tone, which had a wonderful cosy feel but with a little heat and characters that were engaging and colourful. I will also definitely check out the rest of the series!
I give Toying with His Affections a B-
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