Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday Review: That Thing Called Love

That Thing Called Love
By Susan Andersen
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Release Date: July 31, 2012

Jake Bradshaw grew up in Razor Bay, Washington, the son of a serial father who played good dad until divorce set him free to move on to his next family. Jake hated the town, he hated being pushed around by a half-brother who used him as a target for his anger, and he couldn’t wait to leave Razor Bay and brother Max behind. Still, when his girlfriend Kari Pierce got pregnant their senior year, he married her, but a marriage between a boy who wanted to leave town and a spoiled girl didn’t have much of a chance. When Kari died shortly after their son was born and her parents offered to care for the baby while Jake took advantage of the full scholarship he had been offered to Columbia, he felt guiltily reprieved. In the thirteen years since then, he’s made a name for himself as a photographer, seen some of the world’s most exotic locations, deposited some hefty checks in his bank account, and tried to bury the guilt he feels over being a runaway dad. Now the Pierces are dead, and he has the chance to find out what it means to be a father to his son Austin. Nothing else would have brought him back to Razor Bay, and even now he can’t wait to pack up his son and get back to New York. Not even sexy Jenny Salazar is going to change his mind. She’s not his type anyway, or so he keeps telling himself.

Jenny Salazar loves Razor Bay, and she loved Kathy and Emmett Pierce. The town offered her sanctuary and friendship when her life was turned upside down by a scandal of her father’s creation. The Pierces gave sixteen-year-old Jenny a job at the Brothers Inn that allowed her to support herself and her mother. But they did much more. When her mother died, they supported and encouraged her while she went to college and welcomed her back as part of the Inn’s staff and as part of their family. She looks upon Austin as a younger brother, and she’d like nothing better than to see her temporary guardianship of him become permanent. She doesn’t have a very high opinion of the man who has decided to play daddy at this late date, even if he's the sexiest thing she's ever seen in Razor Bay. But Jenny is willing to do what’s best for Austin, but she fears that means that her relationship with Jake Bradshaw is becoming dangerously up close and personal.

This is the first book in a new trilogy from Andersen, and if the other books meet the standard set by this one, the Razor Bay trilogy is going to be terrific. I liked Jake and Jenny both. Admittedly, Jake behaved like a jerk when he abandoned his son. Even though his decision was complicated by his youth and the actions of the Pierces, he made some bad choices. But he knows he did, and he doesn’t try to justify himself. He is sometimes at a loss with Austin, but he tries his best to begin building a relationship with his son. Jenny is great. She may be small in size, but she’s mighty in her love for Austin and in the strength and determination with which she tackles whatever life hands her. She’s also sweet and smart and funny. Regular readers of Andersen will find the sexual tension and sizzling scenes they expect from this author, but there is also a lot of sweetness in this book.

Andersen also creates some of the best secondary characters I’ve encountered in contemporary romance in a while. Austin is wonderfully real. He’s a totally credible, smart-mouthed, tender-hearted thirteen-year-old boy who is crazy about baseball, loyal to his best friend, and crushing crazily on a pretty and interesting girl who is new on the scene. The love and security he feels with Jenny is evident, as is the mix of anger, longing, and vulnerability he feels toward his father. I liked Nolan, the best friend, and Bailey, the crush too. And speaking of best friends, Tasha, Jenny’s best friend, is another great character, one I’m hoping to see more of. Then there’s Max, rough and tough, former Marine, current deputy sheriff, and Jake’s half-brother. What an interesting, appealing character he is! I have a strong feeling he'll be making an appearance later in the trilogy.

I look forward to another trip to Razor Bay, and I recommend you sign up for trip #1 with That Thing Called Love.

Some readers want a romance to focus on the hero and heroine and resent being distracted by a sizeable cast of secondary characters. Others prefer romances that show the hero and heroine as part of a family and/or a community. I belong in the latter group. To which group do you give allegiance?


Kathleen O said...

Oh I am defiently in the latter catagory.. I love a family/freinds relationship where I can watch the character grow from book to book...

irisheyes said...

Oh, I'm definitely in the latter category also. You know how I crave my romances in a series.

I don't believe I've ever read Susan Anderson. This one sounds like a good place to start.

Although, the way things are going I'll be lucky to get to it by Christmas! I have NEVER been this behind on all of my reading. I've got e-books on my Nook and my Kindle app on my computer. I've got books from the library, UBS and ones I've bought new stacked up beside my bed. I don't know where to start!

PJ said...

I love Susan Andersen! I have this book on my tbr and can't wait to get lost in another wonderful story from one of my favorite authors...especially after reading your terrific review, Janga.

Sign me up for friends and family too! :)

Janga said...

I like the continuing growth too, Kathleen. And I like knowing friends and family probably mean I get more books in the same world.

Janga said...

Irish, my fellow series addict, your TBR sounds like mine, except we have different ereaders, and I have book bags filled from two libraries. LOL Fortunately the books from the university library aren't due for three months.

That Thing Called Love is worth reading even if you don't get to it til Christmas.

Janga said...

PJ, I really think this is one of SA's best. The setting is so fresh and real.

It seems that we're all in agreement concerning friends and family in the books we love.

fsbuchler said...

I'm with you, too, Janga. The plot is always enhanced by well drawn secondary characters. I also love a series that eventually gives voice to those characters as well..