Two of Hearts by Christina Lee
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: May 5th 2015
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From the author of the Between Breaths novels comes a gripping romance about finding yourself while taking a second chance at your first love…
Dakota Nakos was always the resilient, strong-willed achiever. But when her father dies and she’s entrusted with the family’s casino, she feels vulnerable, scared, and more than a little emotional —not exactly the best time to see an old lover she’s never really gotten over.
Dakota once meant the world to Shane Garrity. Then suddenly he left town to train as a U.S. Marshal, and their love for each other crashed into a memory. Now he’s come home for her father’s funeral, and one look at the girl he left behind stirs up both memories and regrets, and reignites a fire he feared he’d lost forever.
Dakota may be the same driven girl she always was, but she’s also changed in ways neither could have anticipated. She’s not just a young woman searching for own identity in the Native American community in which she was raised, but one questioning her new life outside her father’s shadow. Above all she wonders if Shane can push past her weakened defenses to rekindle what they once had, or whether the intense blaze between them will ultimately reduce her heart to ashes.
I really thought I’d love this book. I was really curious about Dakota and Shane after Whisper to Me. That they’re all grown up was just icing on the cake.
Shane and Dakota have known each other their whole lives. Shane is best friends with Dakota’s older brother Kai. For years they ignored their deeper feelings for one another until one summer during college they had a fling. When Shane signed up for the US Marshals, Dakota suggested they go their separate ways and he agreed, though neither really wanted to part.
Five years later, Dakota’s father was killed in a senseless mugging and Shane returns home to attend the funeral. He’s close to burnout and ready for a break anyway, so when the manager of the casino Dakota owns/runs asks him to look into some things, he’s quick to agree. Especially since his feelings for Dakota have never gone away. He’s definitely interested in seeing where things go between them, and getting to the bottom of the strange tensions in the casino.
Dakota is deaing with her grief over the senseless death of her father, the stress of taking over the daily operations of the casino and the tribal politics involved with Dakota and her mother, who isn’t Native American, taking over. The last thing she needs is to get tangled up with Shane again. He was too quick to leave last time and she doesn’t plan to go anywhere. Why get wrapped up in him again when his job takes him all over and she’s got deep roots right where she is?
Unfortunately it didn’t work as well as I thought it was going to. Part of it is personal preference. I struggled to get into the story, which focuses a lot on Native American culture. Since that isn’t something I’m familiar with, I didn’t understand a lot of the customs and the struggles didn’t really speak to me. Since the struggles are a main part of the overall story arc, I didn’t really engage with the story. Add to that my frustration with Dakota’s hot and cold attitude, and mostly the book was either frustrating it annoying. I actually cursed out loud at it a couple times. She was all in one minute and then pushed Shane away the next. She was quick to claim to need nothing and no one, but acted clingy and needy more often than not.
I liked Shane and Dakota’s family, both by blood and from her casino. I also liked Dakota when she forgot to let her insecurities rule her life. I believed in the romance, but I wish they’d communicated better and sooner.
Shane’s protectiveness of Dakota and his refusal to let her get away with pushing him away are what really saved the book for me. When I’d get really angry at her for being so flighty, Shane would voice my concerns exactly and reign her back in. I liked the glimpses of Kai and Rachael, too.
While this isn’t my favorite novel from Lee, it’s well written and the cultural issues were interesting.
3 out of 5