Friday, April 18, 2014

Falling for Owen

Falling for Owen
By Jennifer Ryan
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: April 15, 2014

Owen is the older of the former Wild McBride brothers. He was the first to refuse to be controlled any longer by his past and to turn his life around. Once he had his law degree in hand, he returned to his hometown to practice and to help Rain Evans bring up his nieces (The Return of Brody McBride). Owen is happy that his brother and Rain are reunited, but their delight in one another makes him conscious of his own loneliness. Unattached but looking, Owen has his eye on Claire Walsh, new in town and the owner of a combination coffee shop and bookshop that is a favorite spot of Owen’s adored nieces. But Claire seems unaware of him.

Claire has noticed Owen. He’s the kind of man that a sane, heterosexual woman would find impossible to ignore, but Claire is cautious on two counts. First, a bad marriage to a good-looking charmer who was a chronic philanderer has left her wary of men in general and handsome hunks in particular. Second, every time Claire sees Owen, he is with two gorgeous little girls whom Claire concludes must belong to him. She also concludes there is a woman in the picture, and that makes him off limits for Claire.

Claire and Owen are thrown together when the abusive, drunken ex of one of Owen’s clients jumps to an erroneous conclusion and attacks Claire, leaving her concussed and bleeding and her home with a shattered glass door. Owen is there immediately, determined to see that Claire receives the care she needs and that the damage to her house is repaired ASAP. Claire finds him hard to resist, but trusting does not come easily for her. Owen has no doubts that Claire is the one he has been looking for, but he worries that a relationship may be dangerous for Claire.

Wounded heroes are abundant in romance fiction, but I am sometimes skeptical of how quickly and simplistically recovery from childhood traumas and other psychological damage occurs. I really like the fact that both Owen and Brody are aware that vestiges of their darkness remains and that they both have moments when their belief that they can fully overcome their past is shaken. I also love that Claire is smart enough to accept help when she needs it and to understand that enjoying a little tender, loving care after suffering a hard hit (literally in her case) doesn’t compromise a woman’s independence. Finally, I love that Rain and Owen still have a special connection and that the reader sees not only Rain and Brody’s HEA in progress but also the developing closeness between the brothers. I liked the first book in the series, but I also had some problems with it. I thought this one was a better book. I marked it a keeper, and I’m looking forward to Dylan’s Redemption, the story of a McBride cousin, scheduled for release in August.

Do you sometimes find that a series that you began with mixed feelings gets better with successive books? Have you ever almost cut a series off with the first book, only to be happy you did not after reading the second one?

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