Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love, #2) by Sarah Morgan
Also in this series: Sleepless in Manhattan, Sleepless in Manhattan, Miracle on 5th Avenue, Miracle on 5th Avenue
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: August 30th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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In the chaos of New York, true love can be hard to find, even when it's been right under your nose all along…
Love has never been a priority for garden designer Frankie Cole. After witnessing the fallout of her parents' divorce, she's seen the devastation an overload of emotion can cause. The only man she feels comfortable with is her friend Matt—but that's strictly platonic. If only she found it easier to ignore the way he makes her heart race…
Matt Walker has loved Frankie for years but, sensing how fragile she is beneath her feisty exterior, has always played it cool. But then he uncovers new depths to the girl he's known forever and doesn't want to wait a moment longer. He knows Frankie has secrets and has buried them deep, but can Matt persuade her to trust him with her heart and kiss him under the Manhattan sunset?
We finally get Frankie’s story! I admit I was really looking forward to her book because she seemed like a great character, and she definitely was.
To briefly recap the series, it centers around 3 childhood friends, Paige, Eva, and Frankie, who form an events company in New York City after losing their jobs. Paige, the heroine from Book 1, is kind of the take-charge manager of the group. Eva is the bubbly and soft hearted chef. And then there’s Frankie, the florist, who is prickly and introverted. She’d much rather stay home with a book and her plants than do just about anything else, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her friends fiercely. Her circle of friends also includes Paige’s brother, Matt, though Frankie does her best to ignore her low-key attraction to him. When he needs her help with a job, they have to spend more time together, and Matt finally decides to make his own long-time interest in Frankie known. Frankie definitely has an unfavorable view of sex and relationships, though, so Matt sets about convincing her that she’s mistaken.
I really enjoyed Frankie. To be frank (harhar), she’s pretty messed up. She is completely terrified of relationships and believes they can’t last, so she goes to extraordinary lengths to push men away. Her parents had an ugly divorce, after which her mom completely fell apart before spending the rest of her life hopping around from younger man to younger man. At first I was thinking Frankie’s genuine phobia of relationships was kind of overdone. Lots of kids of divorced parents go on to be perfectly well adjusted so I felt like her issues were a bit extreme. But after learning more about her dad’s despicable behavior and seeing how selfish her mom was, it made more sense. It’s still over-the-top, but I could at least see where she was coming from. She certainly had a lot of self-esteem issues as a result of her childhood, too. It was a little hard to read sometimes, because when you boil it down, I think she was actually not sure she was even capable of love. Of course, we know that’s not true because we can see how much she loves her friends.
I could talk about the very steamy sex, the amazing use of the NYC setting, or a dozen other things I like about these books, but by a wide margin, the thing I am loving most about this series is the friendships. Paige, Eva, and Frankie are totally devoted to each other and it is a damn pleasure to read about. They share their feelings, they console, they lift each other up when necessary, and they always have each other’s backs. I know more page time is technically spent on the romantic relationships in these books, but for me the friendships are really the heart of the whole series and obviously the foundation for these women’s lives. I also love that, while not the core, others are also included in the circle of friends. For instance, there’s a really touching scene where Eva gives Matt someone to lean on when he’s hurting near the end of the book. It’s so lovely to see a bunch of grown ups who support each other like family. The dialog between everyone is snappy and funny and just makes me want to get to know these people in real life.
And yet…this book also frustrated me a bit, mostly near the ending. My frustrations started when Matt kept pushing Frankie. Yes, I know you’re in love with her and yes I know she’s almost impossibly skittish, but if she’s not ready to get more serious back the hell off! I kept thinking how none of her behavior should be a surprise to him so why was he trying to change the rules on her, especially when it really hadn’t been THAT long? Ease up and give her some more time instead of making it all about your poor manly heartbreak. And I won’t explain the ending, but I just wasn’t completely sold on the speed of the resolution. Frankie had some genuine, deep-rooted fears that are suddenly just resolved…poof! I would have liked to see a slightly more realistic (for Frankie) ride off into that Central Park sunset.
Despite these issues, I am so, so ready to read Eva’s story now. I wasn’t quite as interested in her in Book 1 but after learning more, I badly want her to get her own happy ending. Now that I know who her hero is going to be I’m extra excited, too. Hoo boy, he ain’t gonna know what hit him!
Grade: 4 out of 5
*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.