by Meka James
Series: Love On Madison Island #3
Also in this series: Renovation Of Love, Heat Of Love
Publication Date: September 22, 2021
Source: the author
I received an advance review copy of this book from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
It’s the person she least expected who provides a much-needed tune up of her life...
For Dr. Irene Johnson-Moore perception is everything. After living most of her life behind facades built from other people’s expectations, she’s ready for a change. At least that’s what she tells herself. But old habits die hard. And when her car breaks down, forcing her to deal with the town mechanic—a woman whose bluntness always irked Irene—her resolve is instantly put to the test.
Remi Martin prides herself on being unapologetically honest. Brutally so at times. No good ever came from pretending to be someone or something she’s not.
When she responds to a call from a stranded motorist, she never imagined she’d be towing the self-proclaimed “town princess” into her world. Irene Johnson embodies everything Remi tries to avoid, yet she can’t seem to shake her one-time adversary.
However, the more time they spend together, the more feelings begin to idle under the surface. But before their relationship can rev to life, they must release their preconceived notions or things could come to a screeching halt.
From the moment that cover was released, I have been dying to get my hands on this book. The other two books gave hints that something was going on with Irene and I couldn’t wait to see what sort of sparks would fly between her and Remi. And oh boy I was not disappointed! This book is the third in the series and could probably be read as a standalone, though you’d miss out on the friendship development.
Irene has spent her life being everything everyone else wants her to be: the perfect lady for her mother, the perfect wife for her husband, the perfect confidant for her friends. But when her husband’s latest infidelity pushes her a step too far, she realizes that she doesn’t know who the real Irene is – but she wants to find out. Her first step? Taking her soon-to-be-ex’s beloved sports car and driving home to Madison Island. But an accident puts her face-to-face with her high school nemesis, Remi, now the town’s mechanic. There’s always been something between the two of them, but both wrote it off as dislike back in high school. Only now can Irene freely admit that she wanted Remi, but given her past actions, is there any hope that Remi could want her back?
Irene enjoys the finer things in life, so it’s not much of a surprise that she comes off as, well, high maintenance and spoiled. But she’s spent her life trying to live up to her mother’s expectations of what a “lady of social standing” should act like and look where it’s got her: fighting with her husband to get a divorce and looking for a place to live that’s not her parents’ house. Oh, and she has to fess up to her friends that she’s kept all this from them for years. But even with all these problems on her plate, she can’t stop thinking about how beautiful Remi is and how much different her life would have been if she’d kissed her back in high school.
“I take people as they are, when they are. So, what you’re getting has nothing to do about then and everything to do about now. My opinion of you isn’t low, Irene, it just isn’t as high as the one you have of yourself.”
With Remi, what you see is what you get, and she assumes that everyone else is the same. Remi is honest to the point of bluntness, but she’s also comfortable with who she is and judgmental about others who care more about image – and she doesn’t give second chances. So it’s no wonder that she thinks Irene is nothing but a stuck-up rich girl. But Remi’s friends are also all friends with Irene, so it’s hard to avoid her, especially when she insists on flaunting how hot she is everywhere she goes. But Remi doesn’t want to be Irene’s rebound chick, and she’s still not entirely sure she even likes her. Bit by bit, as Irene’s walls come down and Remi lets her into her life, it becomes clearer than ever that the two women are more alike than they’d want to admit. And I do mean “bit by bit,” because the romance is very, very slow burn. It makes sense in context. Irene is figuring out who she is, and I’d agree with Remi that accepting who you are is an important step before getting into a relationship. But the tiny moments between them, whether it was bringing extra marshmallows or checking in on Remi’s father, were so sweet and definitely made the payoff worth it.
One of my favorite things about this series is the friendship between Irene, Cynthia and Regina. They’re hilarious and supportive, but not afraid to pull out the tough love if needed. Irene fully admits that her friends are the strong, independent women she wants to be. Unfortunately, she’s also been lying to them for years, keeping the fact that her marriage was on the rocks from them even while she supported both of them through their own troubles. They understandably call her on it, and I loved them for it. It was exactly the wakeup call Irene needed and rather than ending their friendships, it deepened it. Remi’s also taken the first steps into that circle of friends, though she tends to hang out more with the men than the women, but she’s also keeping secrets from them, something that Irene sees the parallels to all too easily. I loved how that bit of the story was wrapped up.
“You have always been you. I know when you say, or better yet, when you do something it has meaning.”
Overall, this was another lovely entry to the series, but I’m not sure if this’ll be the last book as all three friends are matched off. Whatever happens, I’ll definitely be picking up this author’s next book!
Content notes: View Spoiler »cheating (by MC’s soon-to-be-ex-husband), gaslighting (by ex), parent with Parkinson’s, parent is hospitalized, parental expectations, menopause and infertility, parental abandonment (in the past), pregnancy « Hide Spoiler