Series: Kowalski #9
Published by Carina Press on 2014-08-01
Max Crawford has reached the point in life where he's starting to think about settling down. Unfortunately, he's always been a little awkward when it comes to socialinteractions, and working from home doesn't help. He spends so much time alone,painting beautiful, historically accurate model trains that half of Whitford has begun to joke that he may be a serial killer. Not exactly prime husband material.
Tori Burns has found happiness in Maine, thanks in large part to her shifts at the Trailside Diner. She likes the work, and she loves the local gossip. When shy, geeky Max Crawford becomes a regular, she's intrigued. When she finds out he's in the market for a wife, she's fascinated…and determined to help.
Molding Max into every woman's dream turns out to be much easier than expected. But has Tori's plan worked a little too well? As she turns his comfortable life all sorts of upside down, she'll have to find a way to show just how she's fallen for him…the real him.
FTC : This was requested from Net-Galley for a fair and honest review. I requested this as I love this author.
Although this was book 9 in the Kowalski series, it didn’t feel like one. I loved Max (the geek hero) and Tori (the spunky heroine) but there was something different to this installment. It was less sweet, less charming but it didn’t suffer for it. I liked the change of pace, enjoyed the different tone and overall I really liked it.
Max was the draw of the book for me. A geek hero, with very few social skills, being cast as a romantic hero was always going to be interesting. His reasoning for wanting to date was cute but I knew it would never happen unless he could understand that speaking to a prospective date is very different to the way you communicate with the rest of the population (not that that was much easier for him). Then enters Tori (and her offer of date lessons) and the book sunk its claws into me. These date lessons were the highlight of the book for me, their relationship slowly building from a gender reversed Eliza/Dr Higgins situation to a love story that neither of the characters seem to know they are part of. It was so cute to see the changes in them, the subtle shift in their communication and bond. I knew it was all going to go very very wrong ..
Tori was the reason that it all starts to go wrong. Still emotionally scarred from her parents divorce, she projects her fear of emotional pain onto any relationship she is in. When Max starts to get closer, she starts to push further away and it was so bloody frustrating. As a non-romantic character she was fantastic, her spunki-ness in the romance lessons being part of the reason that I tended to read them all with a smile, but once the romance started to kick in, I started to like her less and less. It took a hell of a lot of personal growth and courage for Max to get him to where he was about 75% of the way through the book and I couldn’t help but dislike her for the way she tried to trample all of that in a bid to protect her heart.
I mentioned the tone was different and the only way I can describe this book is as a sassy contemporary romance instead of the usual sweet contemporary romance that I’ve come to expect. I really did enjoy it and I also enjoyed seeing some of the familiar characters from past books. It would be the usual 5 stars if it weren’t for the misgivings I had towards Tori halfway through the book, because it really did check a lot of boxes for me.
With an awkward hero and a sassy yet damaged heroine, this one really was a quirky read. It made me laugh, it made me swoon and it made me growl in frustration … a broad range of emotions elicited in 288 pages. Recommended, even for people who are new to the series.