Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The meet-cute here is McKenzie and Ben knew each other as teens. Now? She's the mayor of a town that blames Ben for their current financial woes. After his father died, Ben closed down the family boat-building business, the main employer in town. He also inherited a lot of commercial real estate, and left a manager to run them. The properties were neglected, adding to the town problems.
Now he's back! And while the town hates him, they also hope that he may somehow bring back prosperity.
Link to book 1: Hero in book one bought all that property from Ben and is the owner of a tech company, so they are both tech gazillionaires.
Last book had a kid with a heart condition and a hero recovering from brain surgery. The health issues here: Ben's younger sister died from cystic fibrosis as a teen.
Backstories of the main characters that left me going "ok, that's interesting." McKenzie was raised by a single mother, and after her mother died (oh, another health issue, diabetes) McKenzie, about ten, went to live with her father -- who didn't know about her! He's married, with a daughter a couple of years older than McKenzie, and a wife, who, yeah, he was married to when he had an affair with McKenzie's mother. The sisters are close, the mother (stepmother?) is cold to McKenzie -- or at least, not warm. Oh, and McKenzie's mom was Mexican, and McKenzie changed her name from Xochitl Vargas to McKenzie Shaw to fit in better. I KNOW. This last fact in particular is treated as "oh yeah and that happened."
Ben kinda hates his mom because his dad was verbally and emotionally abusive to both of them, but his mom stayed around until his sister died, so Ben has tons of resentment that he pretends he doesn't. BUT it turns out that when Ben's mom was a teenager she slept withe her boyfriend who left town for the army and college so OF COURSE she had to instead marry Ben's dad and pass of Ben as his, and Ben's dad didn't become an asshole to his son until the DNA tests taken because of the sister's CF. Did I mention her reasons included her father being a Baptist minister and helping to raise her younger sisters because her mom had died? (I think cancer, because there are a lot of dead parents who died before the story began: McKenzie's mom and dad, Ben's sister and father, Ben's mother's parents.)
So, does Ben somehow begin to bring prosperity to the town?
Do Ben and McKenzie get together?
Do Ben and his mother reconcile?
Does McKenzie and her stepmother get along?
Yes, yes, yes, no.
These are for readers who want romance with little spice: just kissing.
Final note: despite my wowing the backstories, I am addicted to this series. I want to see how the town pulls out of the economic issues. I want to meet McKenzie's cold but not mean stepmother.
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