BookLife Review: Earning It

BookLife Reviews

A hardened playgirl meets with relentless pursuit in this celebratory second-chance contemporary romance from Dodd. When Van, the ex who broke Rae’s heart and ruined her for love, turns up at her best friend’s wedding, Rae is determined to keep her cool and make it through the wedding without stirring up any drama. Unfortunately, he’s also invited on the wedding party’s group trip to the Caymans and avoiding him will prove impossible. Despite Rae’s struggles to get over their breakup and start a new life, Van is determined not to let her get away again.

Dodd centers the plot strongly around her earlier book, Risky Restoration, a choice that will please fans of the previous story but also at times slows the narrative momentum. This is a relationship with a decidedly rough start, as their original courtship and breakup were far from standard. Van, an undercover agent with the FBI, staged a meeting to get close to Rae and, through her, to her drug-dealing boss, but after more than a year together and declarations of love, Rae discovered his real identity, prompting her to run out on him and try to pick up the pieces in a new city. Now that they’re thrown back together in less-than-ideal circumstances, the two quickly revert back to their own games—Van’s possessive of Rae, bordering on alarming at times, while she tells him she wants nothing to do with him and then, hours later, gets sloppy drunk and climbs into his lap.

Van claims to want nothing more than to explain his past mistakes, while Rae vows to stay aloof—intentions that quickly founder. The prose is sharp and polished, especially the dialogue, while the conflict is mostly internal: Rae’s refusal to face her feelings and discover how to communicate them to herself and her rekindled flame. Readers interested in characters feeling their way back to love will find much here that resonates.

Takeaway: This second-chance romance finds a woman unable to snuff a rekindling flame.

Great for fans of: Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Maybe in Another Life, Lauren Dane’s Back To You.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A