Reviewed in Australia on 8 December 2018
Hope Coleson is waitressing at the wedding of Sam Gleeson and Ali Ross (from book one) when she lays eyes on the most attractive man she’s ever seen. She tries not to focus on him, because her horrible boss is watching her like a hawk, but it seems her mystery man has noticed her, too, because he approaches, leaves a card for his hotel room, gives her the room number and tells her to swing by after her shift is done.
Hope is sorely tempted. At twenty five, she is keen to be rid of her virginity. When the temptation is too great, she goes to the hotel room and has amazing sex with the man, whose name she doesn’t know until they’re both naked. She finds out it’s Beckett, but has no idea he works for the company co-owned by her half brother, Asher Coleson.
Hope and Asher share the same father, but are not close. Turns out Hope’s mother was the maid on the Coleson estate, and was having an affair with Asher’s father. His mother knew about young Hope, but she wasn’t ever allowed in the house and her mother used to keep her locked in a tiny room above the garage, something Asher and his father didn’t know. Until one fateful day, when Hope was seven, Asher discovered her screaming after she tipped boiling water on herself.
By the end of the day, both their mothers were dead. Hope was moved into the house and raised by Rosa, the housekeeper, who looked after both the Coleson kids. When Asher refuses to be groomed to take over the Coleson Creek winery empire, Marshall Coleson turns to Hope. But she, too, is not interested, desperate to lead a life of her own.
When the money her father gave her to go to college disappears from her bank account before she starts her final year, Hope is broke and homeless. She spends some nights staying with her best friend, Valentino Sabato (who was given a more unfortunate name at birth, which he unsurprisingly changed), but otherwise sleeps in her car. She’s too stubborn and determined to go running back to her father, and she’s not at all close to Asher, who’s a decade older than her. She's also been getting threatening text messages, which she's been ignoring.
Hope is drawn to a house in a good neighbourhood that has gorgeous jacaranda tree in the front yard. It’s her dream home. She parks her car there, and is taken aback when none other than Beckett knocks on her car window one morning. It turns out he lives in her dream home, and when he realises she’s homeless he offers to rent her a room. She finds another job waitressing at a strip club, and finds herself enjoying it and liking the people who work there.
When Beckett finds out that Hope is Asher’s younger sister, he finds himself in a difficult position. He’s attracted to her, but he can’t risk Asher finding out that he’s been having sex with Hope. He does tell him that Hope is staying with him, and Asher doesn’t beat him to death, but he knows he’s playing with fire.
Beckett is also fighting his own demons – he’s a recovering alcoholic. It had gotten so bad that his friends put him into rehab previously, but he’s suffering from PTSD after losing someone close to him at war.
When Beckett can’t commit to a relationship with Hope, even though he knows she’s in love with him, she refuses to give up her dreams and moves to Denver to complete her degree. Beckett, faced with the loss of the woman he loves, starts drinking again. Asher and Sam get him back into rehab, and some time passes before Hope opens her door one day to find Beckett standing behind it. He’s sober and he’s ready to commit to her because he loves her. Hope’s missed him so much that she can’t say no to him, and she knows she’ll love him forever.
There were so many things I adored about this book. Even though Hope was a virgin, I loved that she wasn’t afraid to tell Beckett what she liked sexually, and was able to take the lead on some occasions. I loved that Beckett was flawed. He carried very real scars that military heroes do. He wasn’t perfect; he was a functioning alcoholic trying to conquer his demons. I loved seeing their story unfold, two people with baggage able to find each other and make it work. Another excellent instalment in a wonderful series.