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4.3 out of 5
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  • Book 2

    I really enjoyed this novel. The plot line was great, with steamy romance, and a great cast of characters. Looking forward to reading the next one in this series.

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  • Lovely small town romance!

    This is the second story in the Boys of Fall, a delightful small town romance series featuring players from the championship team coming home to help out their town fourteen years later, after the shutting down of the local mill left the local football program in jeopardy. The first story (and they are all easily read as standalones) featured Chase and Kelly, the coach's daughter. This story though, is about the wayward town son Alex, a troubled teen who straightened himself out with the help of his high school football coach. He went on to become a world renowned photojournalist, and he's making his second trip home to Stewart Mills, this time to more fully document the town's turnaround, including a photo essay of the up and coming team players. Not knowing how long he'll be in town, he's set up to board at Gretchen's farm, the one she runs with her grandmother Ida. Though Gretchen was a few years behind him in school, they know each other, and she feels fairly comfortable renting a room to him to test out the whole boarding thing as a way of making some extra money to keep the farm afloat. What she doesn't count in is how well Alex starts to fit in, becoming a fixture in their home -and with not much encouragement gaining a place in her heart as well. But his stay is temporary, his calling to be out where the action is only put aside briefly to finish what he feels is the story left to tell about his home town. When his next assignment comes calling, will Alex and Gretchen both be left with only memories? It's really nice to read a story that doesn't have any manufactured angst, just the real emotions of believable characters who've maybe had a tougher upbringing than some, but have dealt with it, moved on, and are fully functioning normal adults. I loved Gretchen's character as a strong, loyal, committed woman. She was brought up by her grandparents after being left with them by her wayward and unreliable parents, and has dedicated herself to the farm, her way of thanking her grandparents for taking her in. But it's not just that, she really loves what she does. It's hard work, but it's rewarding and she doesn't complain about the early hours, or the constant repairs or any other of the little day to day responsibilities - they are just part of her. Her grandfather has since passed away but not without leaving her a legacy to continue, and she's constantly thinking up ways to earn more income to keep the farm viable. Taking in a border is just another means to an end. But Alex is someone who fits in so well that she finds it hard to keep those tenant/landlord boundaries with him. Alex is friendly, helpful, kind, and equally hardworking. He's also extremely talented as a photojournalist, able to capture the emotion of a moment. It's a gift not to be taken lightly, and it's one that Gretchen knows is too important to keep him in a small town like Stewart Mills. She tries, rather unsuccessfully, to guard her heart from him - because Alex is able to bring out the feminine side that Gretchen keeps so well hidden, the side that might like it if a man could 'open a pickle jar' for her (I'll leave you to decide if that's a euphimism for something else wink wink). Her stature and demeanor have always made her a bit intimidating to men, but Alex makes her feel desired and special. The chemistry between them sparks from the start and leads to eventual steamy love scenes that turn them both inside out - because what should be a casual sexual fling becomes so much more. Gretchen is good at hiding her emotions though, and knowing that Alex is bound to leave means she keeps her heart locked down, even though Alex has already cracked through the shell. With two people who have set ideas for their future, it's only going to be with compromise that a happy ending will be reached - but not without a few tears (darn you Ms. Stacey!). I really loved how the story came together and how the emotions and conflict were settled. The secondary characters, friends of both Alex and Gretchen made for some fun scenes, with male and female bonding that speaks to strong friendships. Ida, Gretchen's grandmother is a hoot, and made their home feel warm and loving. And one can't forget Cocoa, a beautiful dog and loyal companion who added just the right touch of extra warmth to the story. Delightful from start to finish. 5 stars.

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