Back to Us by Christ Barth
Series: Shore Secrets #3
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: July 13, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Ward Cantrell always went for the long shot. But that recklessness cost him his college scholarship and his chance to play pro ball, and—worst of all—it ended his relationship with the girl next door. Neither the town nor the girl has ever forgiven him. Now he's taking one last long shot by opening a boutique distillery on the family farm he inherited.
Piper Morrissey spent high school in Ward's shadow, but she's come into her own in the years since. Maintaining her spotless image, and that of her family's winery, is priority number one. Nobody knows that she still yearns for her golden-boy ex. Or at least they didn't—until Ward agrees to sell Piper the land she needs to start her precious port line. The caveat? She'll need to date him for one month.
Ward hopes a month is all it'll take to convince his former sweetheart that while he's changed, his love for her hasn't. But when the chance arises to thumb his nose at the town that turned its back on him, he can't afford not to reject Piper's offer. Will that make her reject him and his love—for good?
I really love friends-to-lovers and reunited lovers, so this was a win/win since it features both. Piper is a fiery redhead whose parents conditioned her early on to care a whole lot what other people think. Keeping up appearances is really important to her. So is doing a good job at the family winery and carrying on her grandfather’s legacy by creating the Port he always wanted. Her parents want nothing to do with the project, however, and as a result none of the landowners in the area will consider selling or leasing her land for it, since her parents are powerful in the area and no one wants to get on their bad side. Except the one man she wants to avoid at all costs. Her heart still stutter-steps every time he’s near. She doesn’t need a month of dating to make it worse. On the other hand, there’s a lot of history between them, and if she still isn’t over him, maybe it’s time to explore what might still be between them. If she can get past his betrayal..and her parent’s reaction to him…and the way the town will react to her associating with him.
Ward knows he let the town down when he lost his scholarship and the chance to play professional ball due to an injury he brought on himself, but he wanted nothing more than to go home. When his father passed and left him the family farm – and a giant mountain of debt – he decided to make his dreams a reality and open his own distillery. The business is doing well – though he’d like to expand and can’t – but he still feels unsettled in his life, because Piper is missing from it. Sure, they’re kind of friends, but he wants it all with her – he always has. He was a pretty stand-up guy who did his best to do the right thing. He made some mistakes – like keeping things from Piper – but I understood why he made them.
I have to be honest, Piper drove me crazy for most of the book. For an adult woman of almost 3o, she really let other people dictate her life. Her concern over what everyone thought was silly and immature, and the way she jumped to conclusions about Ward and went off on him based on her assumptions was frustrating. Ward wasn’t perfect, but his regard for her came across clearly. He admired and respected, as well as loved, her. I didn’t get the sense she felt the same; not by her actions. Oddly enough, I really liked her. She was funny and warm and had a great sense of family. I just didn’t necessarily love the way she acted toward Ward. I did think she redeemed herself in the end, though. She realized she was repeating the same mistakes over and over and corrected them.
There were a lot of loose ends that weren’t tied up. For example, Ward mentions Spencer quite a bit. He was his mentor and the man who acted as a father to him once he went to college. Yet Ward never visits him. Piper questions him about it and he brushes it aside, then it’s never revisited. I would have liked to know why he doesn’t visit and what their relationship is like now.
That aside, I really fell into the story. I loved the friendships the characters had with each other. There were strong family bonds there, even though they weren’t blood related. I also really liked the winery backdrop.
This is the first book in the series I’ve read, but I plan to go back and pick up the others very soon.
3.75 out of 5