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Taking one look at Andi and Nate, Andi’s fiancé, had been all it took. Seeing how much in love they were, innkeeper Rebecca Campbell knew she couldn’t settle for less. She had met Stu Murphy in college and they had become good friends. Years later, he had given her a job at the inn he owned with his brother Sean and she loved it. They had remained good friends, and when he had proposed to her, she had wanted it to work so badly that she had accepted. But that changed when she saw the happy couple. So she went to tell him that she couldn’t marry him, but she got a surprise. When Stu realized she had discovered his secret, he had begged her not to tell anyone. She had given him her promise and the wedding was called off. Rebecca had been sure that they would discuss it the next morning. But when she awoke, all she found was a note. Stu was gone, leaving her in charge of the inn and his mother blames her for everything. All of the arrangements she had made for their wedding would now be for the wedding of Andi and Nate. She was determined to keep her promise to Stu, although the arrival of his older brother Sean made it a hard thing to do. On top of that, Sean is making her feel things that no man has ever made her feel. But she is not about to fall for the mysteriously dark and gorgeous guy and jeopardize her job. She has fallen for his type before and ended up having her heart broken.
Sean is used to helping his brother Stu with his problems. He had been away traveling around Asia and had not received word that his brother and Rebecca’s wedding had been called off. He had been happy growing up in Emerald Lake, until the day he discovered his mother’s secret and ended up in a car accident that left his face scarred. Sean has not been home for years. But he had planned to attend the wedding and leave. Now he would have to wait until he found Stu. He can tell that Rebecca is hiding something, but so far, he hasn’t been able to get her to tell him what it is or where his brother went. Sean has noticed the cold tone that his mother uses when speaking to Rebecca and knows that she blames her. He just doesn’t know why he has the sudden urge to protect Rebecca. But Sean is a hard man, showing little emotion. The secret that he learned about his mother many, many years ago has taught him to have no trust when it comes to women. Due to this, he has stayed away from the small Adirondack town he grew up in, only returning for his Stu’s wedding.
In the midst of buying another inn, Sean decides this is the perfect opportunity to learn the inn keeping business from the ground up and Rebecca can teach him everything he needs to know. But as the days go by, he finds her sweet smiles and kind heart getting to him in a way that no other woman has ever done. But honesty is important to him and he knows she is hiding something about his brother…something he is desperate to find out. Despite feeling that this stands between them, he cannot deny the sparks that fly whenever they touch. As her constant need to blurt out whatever is in her head makes him realize that other than this one secret, her refreshing honesty is making him rethink some of his previous thoughts on love, commitment and women…particularly this woman. But can he get beyond his distrust, a problem he has carried with him since he was fourteen?
A heartwarming tale, WITH THIS KISS, the second book in talented author Bella Riley’s EMERALD LAKE series, is an emotion-packed contemporary romance that I hated to see end. Rebecca and Sean both have problems, but together, they begin to overcome them and to heal from their pasts. The chemistry between them is explosive and they are ideally suited for each other. I also liked the subplots in this story; the relationship between Sean’s parents as well as his grandmother Celeste’s love story. At times, this story will have you laughing out loud and at other times, it will have you close to tears. With the delectable setting, complex characters, passion, chemistry, secrets, ghosts, love and romance, this is a story you will want to read more than once. A definite keeper! I have not yet read the first book in this series, so I can say with confidence that this story can be read as a standalone, despite being part of a series. But I look forward to reading it and am eager to visit Emerald Lake again in Ms. Riley’s future works. I highly recommend WITH THIS KISS. Do not miss it!
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