Dr. Daisy Honey never expected to return to her hometown of Trusty for anything more than quick family visits and holidays. With job offers in New York City and Chicago, she’s always planned on leaving Trusty behind — along with the awful rumors she suffered through high school. But when her dad’s hurt in a farming accident, she’s got little choice but to go back to the town that saddled her with a reputation she neither earned nor deserved, and just hope he recovers quickly enough for her to escape again before those awful memories pull her any further down.
Luke Braden has little interest in women beyond the bedroom. Content with his ranch, his horses, and an occasional romp with someone he doesn’t plan on waking up with, he thinks his life is full enough. But then he sees the girl from so long ago, the one who ran off before he really had a chance to know her, and she’s all grown up now. He’s never wanted a relationship, though, not after seeing how his mother struggled to raise her boys without the father who took off before he was even born. But one nearly dropped cake and a hometown girl returned is about to change everything he ever expected from life.
The Verdict: Oh that poor girl. With a name like Daisy Honey, it’s a wonder she didn’t march into the courthouse the day she turned eighteen and petition to have it changed! But it did make for a lovely introduction to Luke.
Daisy was bullied throughout high school, with awful, undeserved rumors being spread about her, and it’s had an unfortunate impact on how she lives her life even outside the town of Trusty. She’s dyed her white blonde hair brown to attract less attention for her looks and more for her degree in medicine, but there’s no way she’ll blend into the background when she heads back home. I did feel pretty awful for her, going through what basically amounted to bullying in high school. Jealous high school girls can be beyond ugly, and her situation is ridiculously common in real life. And the way she just tried to keep her head down and avoid it all, even years after the fact, had a pretty true ring to it. So many books send the heroin back in with sharp barbs and determination to set things right, but I’m not sure that’s very realistic, considering how terribly that sort of experience in a small town can affect a person. The way Daisy conducted herself when going back to the place that made her teen years miserable was just spot on.
Now, I’ve got to admit I expected Luke to be a bit rougher around the edges. He came complete with a barbed wire tattoo, a motorcycle, and a reputation for being a ladies man. But really he was just a big marshmallow under a deceptively thin skin. That’s not to say he wasn’t hot as hell or absolutely perfect for Daisy; he just wasn’t what I was expecting. And while I know a kid can get pretty messed up when abandoned by a parent, I didn’t fully understand why he dwelt on it so much. But maybe that’s just because I’ve been there, and I can’t see past the only reaction I personally understand. Still, the way he turned up the heat every time he showed up, and the way he fell into fitting Daisy into his life even before he would let himself think of the L-word was well worth reading about. Besides, I’m pretty sure I would have died if I’d run out of books to read in this series!