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    3.5 stars. Enjoyable.

    ★★★½ The One Real Thing is the first installment in Samantha Young's adult contemporary romance series titled Hart's Boardwalk. This story features likable characters with tortured pasts, the beauty of giving ourselves permission to start over, and a sensitive perspective of caring for other human beings who have made mistakes. The One Real Thing was pleasantly enjoyable but I was hopeful there would be more attention and substance given to the "found letters" component of the story. Overall though, I liked this book and will plan to continue the series. My favorite quote: "Sometimes life just doesn't work out the way you hoped and no matter what age you are there comes a time to change it."
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    Review: Hart's Boardwalk 1: The One Real Thing

    The One Real Thing by Samantha Young is the first book in her brand new Hart's Boardwalk series. Told in dual POV with a happy ending, it is a beautiful story of love overcoming a dark past and troubling insecurities and a town coming together to best the bad guys. This story focuses on Cooper, the local bar owner, and a visitor in town, Jessica, who is looking to reconnect some old letters to their intended recipient. What Jessica finds is a small town that feels like home and friends she never knew she needed and learns she can't live without. Cooper has been burned before but he is pretty down to earth and doesn't let one persons mistakes taint his view (too much) of other people in his life. Jessica has been through hell and it doesn't show. She has had so many years to bury her past that it's only on the anniversary of her sister's passing that she can't keep it all blocked away. Unfortunately that coincides with her time at Hart's Boardwalk and Coopers arms and she starts to shut down again. This was such an engaging and beautiful story. A great introduction to Hartwell and all of it's inhabitants and I'm so excited to see that Bailey and Vaughn's story is next in the series.
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    3,5 stars-The One Real Thing by Samantha Young

    3.5 stars-- THE ONE REAL THING is the first installment is Samantha Young’s contemporary, adult HART’S BOARDWALK romance series focusing on the people and places of Hartwell, Delaware. This is thirty-something surgeon Dr. Jessica Huntington, and bar owner Cooper Lawson’s story line. Told from first person (Jessica) and third person points of view (Cooper) THE ONE REAL THING is a small-town romance that follows our heroine Dr. Jessica Huntington as she embarks on a personal journey and a three week vacation to the seaside town of Hartwell, Delaware. As a physician working in a women’s prison, Jessica feels a connection to the ladies and sympathizes with many of their plights. When a vintage but destroyed copy of Pride and Prejudice crosses our heroine’s path she discovers four handwritten letters from a former inmate to a lover on the outside. What ensues is Jessica’s trip back to Hartwell, Delaware where she tries to reconnect the present with the past. Enter Cooper Lawson, the man who will steal our heroine’s heart, along with the town and people of Hart’s Boardwalk. But Jessica has a secret that if exposed could mean the end of her relationship with Cooper, and the friends that she has grown to love. The relationship between Jessica and Cooper is one of immediate attraction. Cooper has struggled since his divorce from his cheating ex-wife, and in this Jessica is something new and exciting in his life. Jessica is a woman who has stagnated and is unable to move forward; lost in both her personal and professional life. Meeting Cooper Lawson, and the people of Hart’s Boardwalk, finds our heroine falling in love with both the man and his town. The $ex scenes are intimate and romantic. We are introduced to a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including Jessica’s co-worker at the prison Fatima, and her current friends with benefits Dr. Andrew Livingston. We are introduced to a number of Hartwell’s small business entrepreneurs, family and friends including Cooper’s sister Cat and her son Joey, Hart’s Inn owner and town descendent Bailey Hartwell, Paradise Sands Hotel owner Vaughn Tremaine-who may or may not have a thing for Miss Bailey Hartwell; Iris and Ira who own the local Italian eatery, Emery Saunders book store owner, and Cooper’s ex-wife Dana who wants a second chance with our story line hero. There are several developing stories involving the businesses and owners along Hart’s Boardwalk, and the animosity and tension with the Devlin family who are in the process of trying to buy up all of the properties- a family with very close connections to Cooper and his ex wife. I did have some difficulty with the story line as well as the conflict as it pertained to Jessica’s secret. There was something missing in the presentation; the emotional depth and investment were lacking. Throughout the story our heroine refuses to divulge the truth about her past creating plenty of drama between Cooper and herself, so much so that Jessica is willing to walk away to protect the man with whom she is falling in love. Once the information is revealed I felt it lacked any sort of emotional impact. What I expected was heartbreak and tears but I felt distanced and a lack of enthusiasm when all was said and done. I think it was the toned down reactions of the other characters and the less than explosive disclosure that tempered my own emotions. THE ONE REAL THING is a slow building story line that introduces the people and players of Samantha Young’s HART’S BOARDWALK. The premise is enjoyable and fated; the characters are colorful and eclectic; the romance was tender but lacked the wow factor. I am looking forward to Bailey’s story EVERY LITTLE THING March 2017.
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