Sugar Creek by Toni Blake
Why this one: I've really enjoyed the last few books by Toni Blake and have been looking forward to this one. When I saw it available cheaper at Chapters as an ebook, and I could buy it at 6:30 in the morning - while not even dressed yet, well I was sold!!
Steam Level: Yowzers!!! Watch out - this one can burn you
Blurb: Rachel Farris returned to her childhood home with one mission in mind: get Mike Romo out of her family’s apple orchard business and out of their lives. But hard-nosed and totally hot Mike, who happens to be the law in Destiny, is convinced the Farris clan stole the land from his family fifty years ago and he’s not backing down. Even when shapely trouble shows up in a pair of designer blue jeans. However, neither the hunky cop nor the sexy prodigal hometown girl can anticipate the electricity that heats things up whenever they’re together—adding new sizzle to an ongoing feud that’s raged for generations, and soon putting both their hearts at risk.
My Thoughts: I've read on message boards that a lot of readers are turned off by the trope of the big city girl returning to her small town and ending up giving her big city life up for love. But I've never minded that theme. But for those who don't like it, this may not be the book for you. The heroine Rachel, returns to her small town home of Destiny to help out her grandmother with her apple orchard, though she's a bit resentful that she has to take a leave from her high powered job as an add exec at a critical time. But family is family and Rachel is nothing if not an enabler to her less than successful relatives, although Edna, her grandmother mostly just wants her grand daughter home for a spell.
Rachel Farris breezes into town, but along the way she is clocked speeding by hunky, yet surly cop Mike Romo. The Romo's and the Farris's have a history of feuding and she is less than impressed by this Romo, whom she likes to call Romeo to annoy him. But despite the animosity the two feel for each other, there are some major sparks going on between them and when they end up locked in a concession booth, the sparks turn into a major bonfire and what a hawt bonfire that turns out to be.
Rachel starts out a bit brittle, disliking the fact that she's back in the small town she was so anxious to get out of years ago. But little by little, we get to see her more tender side. As she slowly reconnects with old friends and reestablishes a relationship with her really kewl grandmother, she slowly begins to see that a small town isn't as bad as she thought it would be. And of course there is the steamy relationship that is slowly building with Mike.
Mike is a rough, tough, guys kind of guy. But underneath, he is still suffering from a tragedy in his past that changed his life and destroyed his family. Because of that, he has to be in control at all times and is flummoxed by his growing feelings for Rachel. He's always been a love 'em and leave 'em kind of girl, but he can't seem to leave Rachel. When he finally starts letting his vulnerabilities show, he's just delicious.
I really enjoyed this book. There were a few things that I found a bit tedious - Rachel's continuing insistence that it was 'just sex' between her and Mike and her denial until close to the end that she had any warmer feelings for him. But that was a small issue. And one of the real strengths of this book was the developing relationship between Rachel and Edna. Edna is a real hoot. She's who I want to be when I get old. Slowly, piece by piece, she tells Rachel the origin of the feud between the two families and her relationship with Mike's grandfather.
This may sound odd, but I really loved the apple picking scenes too. When the boys were small we used to take them apple picking every year and reading these scenes brought back those memories - I could almost taste the apples fresh off the trees. The apples you get in stores can't even begin to compare. And I also enjoyed how the author captured the warmth of small towns with all their quirky little festivals and close knit atmosphere.
I found this to be another excellent book and for those who love a good contemporary, this is one I think you will enjoy.
Grade: 4.5 out of 5