I don’t remember where along the way I found Melissa Foster, but she’s been floating around my Facebook and Twitter spheres for a while now. (I seem to do this a lot.) But over time I’ve picked up a few of her books through flash sales and whatnot, and I had yet to ever read one. What a massive storm took out the power in my apartment, it left me with a phone with minimal charge, a Kindle with almost no charge, and several hours before it was a reasonable bedtime.

Lucky for me, my Nook was hiding somewhere with a full battery, a backlight, and this romance novel I’d been meaning to read for far too long.

Max Armstrong is a type of businesswoman who has backup for her backup plans. Strong, confident, a force of nature. And when Treat Braden gave her the type of look that could kill six months ago, every fear and insecurity that a bad relationship she had in college comes rushing back to her. This leaves Max determined to block the incredibly attractive resort owner from her mind.

Meanwhile, Treat Braden is kicking himself for letting the only girl who’s ever really knocked him off-balance get away–all over a stupid and unwarranted jealous glare. For the past six months, he hasn’t been able to get Max Armstrong out of his head–and now enough’s enough. When they run into each other by chance in Treat’s hometown, he’s determined. This time, he won’t let himself sabotage everything…that is, if he can convince Max to talk to him.

For all I’ve heard of the “romance novel formula,” I’ve never really thought too much about what it looks like in practice. Let me tell you: this is a perfect case study of the formula. This isn’t a criticism, mind you! It makes for a lot of sympathetic groaning and exclamations of “Of COURSE that’s what happens. Of COURSE. Oh babies, no…” It’s the same impulse that makes us hope that maybe this time, the pretty blonde fresh out of the shower won’t go investigate that strange noise from behind the newly ajar door.

It’s clear, not just by her writing but by how prolific she is, that Foster is a master of the genre. She knows all the best ways to our hearts, and she is not afraid to use each and every one of them. Max is a good balance of confident and broken; Treat is nicely alpha without being overwhelming, sensitive without falling apart. (Though he gets a little close by the end!) And after so many missed connections and misunderstandings, you can’t help but root for them. I will at least say that I don’t really get Treat’s name? Everyone else in the Braden family has a fairly standard/common name, except for Treat. I have at least been told that there are real people in the world named Treat, but…eh. Personal preference on the name. I’m not a fan.

Particularly of interest to me, Foster doesn’t put in sideline characters just for fun. There are no cardboard cutouts here. Meeting Max’s ex Ryan was a perfect example of this. Ryan could have been this faceless bogeyman for the whole book, and Foster didn’t let him–and I appreciate that immensely. I think it enriches the plot, and certainly Max as a character.

All in all, I’m definitely interested in the rest of the Braden clan. There are some fascinating stories in those guys (and girl!) and I’m looking forward to reading them.

Rating: **** (Recommended)


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