Review: The Bottom Line by Sandy James

Posted May 8, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

the bottom lineHolly‘s review of The Bottom Line (The Ladies Who Lunch, Book 1) by Sandy James

When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. Surviving a failed marriage and an illness that almost takes her life, high school teacher Mallory Hamilton needs the Ladies Who Lunch more than ever . . .

After a year of upheaval, Mallory has had her fill of change—with one exception. Her house is a disaster, and she wants it fixed. Hiring a contractor to finish the projects her ex-husband started will help her banish the past so she can return to the life she had before everything went awry. But her contractor is sexy, sweet, and single, which threatens the peaceful, solitary life Mallory has planned for herself.

Ben Carpenter has had a hard time raising his daughter without his ex-wife’s help. His new client’s projects will give him the extra income he needs, not to mention afternoons alone with a gorgeous woman. Though their attraction is undeniable, Ben sees the fear and pain hiding in Mallory’s beautiful eyes. But how can he help her if she won’t let him in? Ben can fix just about anything—but can he fix Mallory’s broken heart?

This is the first installment in a new series featuring four women who lunch together. The Bottom Line focuses on Ben and Mallory and tells a tale of second chances and learning to trust again.

Mallory had a bad year. Her ex leaving her with a disaster of a house was just the icing on the cake. After so much upheaval she decides she needs to take control in at least one area of her life – her house. She hires Ben Carpenter to finish the work her ex started and feels an immediate attraction to him. She’s still recovering from her past, and guarding a pretty big secret, which puts him off limits. But as Ben repairs her home, he also begins to repair her heart. Just when she begins to trust him, her world is rocked again and the foundations they built start to crumble.

This is an engaging tale. Ben and Mallory build a solid friendship while he works on her home, which really set the foundation for their relationship. Mallory kept parts of herself back, because she was afraid Ben’s feelings would change when he found out everything about her. Though she was hard to relate to at times, James did  a good job giving Mallory depth of character.

Her past issues were the main source of conflict between her and Ben, which made him the more sympathetic character. At least initially. He decides fairly early on he wants something more than a friendship or a fling. He then does most of the pursuing. That isn’t to say he didn’t have his own baggage. He definitely caused his own share of misunderstandings and drama. It was hard not to become frustrated with both of them at times. Their chemistry was palpable and the basis for the relationship solid. Though they had issues to deal with, it wasn’t hard to believe they could go the distance.

The secondary characters added flavor to the story without detracting from the main romance. Mallory’s girlfriends – those who will be getting their own books in this series – especially added weight and levity to the story. It was curious that Ben seemed to adopt her clan, rather than coming with his own.

Though there were some minor quibbles, this is an engaging story about two people who have been given a second chance at love.

3.75 out of 5

This book is available from Forever Yours. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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