by Stacy Finz
Series: The Garner Brothers #2
Also in this series: Love You, Santa's on His Way
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Reading Challenges: 2018 Romance Roundabout Challenge, January - March 2018 Quarterly Challenge, Title Hunt Quarterly Challenge: January - March 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
The smart and sexy Garner brothers have turned Glory Junction into California's hottest extreme sports town--and a thrilling adventure of the heart is always part of the deal . . .
The savvy CEO behind his family's outdoor sporting empire, TJ Garner has his choice of women. But the only one he wants is way out of bounds. Deb Bennett has been his brother Win's on and off girl since they were teenagers. And Deb's still waiting for Win to quit fooling around and realize she's The One . . .
Deb carves the ski slopes and rides the rapids like a champion--it's getting her every day life in order that's the real challenge. When she turns to Win's big brother for financial advice, TJ spontaneously offers the hard-working waitress an executive job at Garner Adventure. To Deb's surprise, the job is a blast--and so is working for TJ. She always knew he was a heartthrob, just like all the Garners, but he's charming and attentive too. Of course, given the choice between him and Win there's no contest--or is there? . . .
This is the second in the Garner Brothers series, and while I think it could work as a standalone, I think you’d miss a lot of the background flavor.
Both TJ and Deb have grown up in Glory Junction, and both are outdoorsy people. On the surface, though, that’s where the similarities end. TJ is the workaholic, business-oriented Garner brother, at the expense of his own personal life. He has a certain vision for the company, and while he’s helped make it wildly successful, he’s not satisfied. Deb, on the other hand, works as a waitress at the local diner. Though they’ve each secretly had crushes on each other since they were kids, Deb believes TJ is too good for her, and TJ has avoided Deb because of her on-again-off-again relationship with his brother Win. When Deb confesses her money issues to TJ, he resolves to help her, but the main solution to her problem is that she needs to make more money. So, naturally, he offers her the management position for his family’s company’s new retail division – something she has no experience in.
“The entire business world operates under the premise that it’s who you know, not what you know. No one passes on an opportunity because they have too much dignity to take a hand up. But if you want to live over a diner, drive a busted car, and eat ramen the rest of your life, suit yourself. The rest of us will happily use our connections to get ahead and prove ourselves.”
Deb is, understandably, shocked (as is the rest of TJ’s family), but eventually takes the position, and then works her butt off trying to learn on the job. Luckily, she has a network of small business-owning friends (oh, and Delaney, the fashion designer from the previous book), so she’s not going in completely blind. I was initially a bit skeptical of the whole premise, but Deb was an amazingly hard worker and had the advantage of being the type of person they wanted to advertise to. I was also a bit uncomfortable with the power dynamic – not only does TJ hire her for a job that’s she desperately unqualified for, but he’s also her direct boss. Partly because of this, by the time Deb and TJ finally get together, it’s more than halfway through the book. They have several other external obstacles, as well, like pretty much everyone in town’s assumption that Deb and Win will eventually end up together, and various characters shoving random women at TJ. Internally, Deb feels unworthy of TJ – I mean, her parents used to clean the company’s office when she was a kid, so there’s definitely a class divide. TJ, for his part, desperately wants to succeed but is also terrified of losing, to the point where he’s either unwilling to try something for fear of failing or, if he does try something, gives up the minute it becomes too hard.
“Which reminds me, what are we doing for your birthday?” he asked.
“Getting drunk and then setting my car on fire.”
“I’ll bring the gin and marshmallows.”
We’re told that a lot of Deb’s financial situation is a result of her constantly bailing out her parents, and we do see it twice in the book – once at the beginning, where she ends up “loaning” them most of her tips so they can buy firewood, and again in the middle when they need help with a plumbing emergency. While having a much better paying job that includes benefits is sure to be a big help with dealing with that expense, I know from experience that that kind of responsibility is a mental as well as monetary burden. I would’ve liked to see that covered more. Instead, there seems to be a lot of time spent maneuvering other characters into possible relationships for further books in the series, including a pretty substantial subplot with Win. While I understood why some of this would need to be covered since everyone assumed that Deb and Win would eventually end up together, for me, it took too much time away from Deb and TJ. To be contrary, though, I did enjoy Deb’s relationships with her friends. Her conversations with Hannah, Foster, and Delaney were some of my favorite parts of the book.
Overall, while I had some issues with the book, I did enjoy it, and I’ll most likely be picking up the next book in the series! Recommended for fans of small-town, outdoorsy romances!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2018 Romance Roundabout Challenge
- January - March 2018 Quarterly Challenge
- Title Hunt Quarterly Challenge: January - March 2018