Release Reviews: The One Real Thing: Samantha Young

(Hart's Boardwalk #1)
Samantha Young
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Expected September 6, 2016

Welcome to Hartwell, a quiet seaside escape where uncovering old secrets could lead one woman to discover the meaning of a love that lasts…

While Doctor Jessica Huntington engages with the inmates at the women’s correctional facility where she works, she’s always careful to avoid emotional attachments in her personal life. Loss and betrayal taught her that lesson long ago. But when she comes across a set of old love letters in the prison’s library and visits the picturesque town of Hartwell to deliver them to their intended recipient, she finds herself unable to resist the town’s charm—and her attraction to the sexy owner of a local bar proves equally hard to deny.

Since his divorce from his unfaithful ex-wife, Cooper Lawson has focused on what really matters: his family and the boardwalk pub they’ve owned for generations. But the first time Jessica steps into his bar, Cooper is beyond tempted to risk his heart on her.

Yet as their attraction grows hotter and Jessica remains stubbornly closed off, he begins to realize it will take more than just passion to convince her there’s only one real thing in life worth fighting for…
Jessica is only in Hartwell for a few weeks, but quickly finds a peace in the small seaside town that she has never felt before. Cooper’s whole life has been spent in Hartwell, including a failed marriage. Jessica and Cooper have an instant spark. Though neither is looking for a relationship, there might be enough chemistry between them to push them both to take a risk.

Jessica is hiding from her past though, and after Cooper’s heart was broken in his first marriage, he isn’t crazy about risking it on more secrets. I couldn’t quite get a grasp about what Jessica might be hiding, that’s how closely guarded her secret is. Until it was revealed, I was just as worried as Cooper about what she might be hiding. Her reason for coming to town seems just as contemptuous when the connection to Cooper is revealed.

Cooper is one of those leading men that just makes you swoon. He wants a family, he wants stability, and the reasons he doesn’t have either is heartbreaking. He is a protector and caretaker, and his relationship with his nephew is precious. He has a bit of baggage after his marriage, but has made it clear to his ex that he doesn’t want her back, if only she’d listen.

I loved the small, seaside town that serves as a backdrop, as well as the variety of colorful side characters that make up the community. Because many of the characters grew up together, they function as a tight knit group, almost family. Even those who haven’t been on the Boardwalk long have carved out their niche and made a place for themselves (even if that niche is filled with tension).

There were times the pace of this book felt like it needed a push. With all the details about the town, and the people, at times Jessica and Cooper almost seemed like side characters themselves. I am generally a fast reader, and this book took me several days longer than my average. It was worth it in the end, but definitely wasn’t a fast read.

This is one of those books that beautifully sets up a series. I feel like I know that community inside and out, the friendships, the rivalries, and the mysteries. While at times it was a challenge, I am so invested in the group of characters that I want to read more from Hart’s Boardwalk.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

I liked the premise of the book with the heroine trying to chase down the recipient of some old letters she found hidden in a book in the prison she works at. This brings her to the lovely setting of Hart's Boardwalk and the small seaside town of Hartwell.

I did not really have any issues with the main couple other than it all seemed to progress pretty fast considering she was just there on a few weeks vacation. Jessica was a work-a-holic doctor who seemed to be punishing herself by choosing to help women in prison that no one else would help, but her reasons were a secret. She was smart, sweet, but guarded about her past and avoided attachments. But stepping into such a tight-knit and welcoming community made it obvious how much she had isolated herself. 

Cooper had his own past relationship issues that still affected him, but he was charming, sexy, and caring. He had sworn off love as well, but was so drawn to Jessica that he was not afraid to change his mind and go after what he wanted...even if she was resistant and closed off. I felt their connection and liked them together, but for some reason, I had a hard time getting engaged in this story. There were a lot of side characters to introduce, so learning about all of them and their stories was a bit distracting. Although I will admit some of them sounded interesting especially Vaughn, Bailey, Jack, and Emery.

It felt slow paced and long, and I honestly felt myself wanting to skim and just figure out her big past secret and get to the end drama. It was not poorly written, but perhaps the point of view changes added to my detachment a bit (Jessica was first person and Cooper was third person). It had a lot of unique qualities and character dynamics. There were various issues going on plot wise between their pasts and situations going on with the town and side characters.

Maybe it was just my mood or timing since I usually enjoy Samantha Young's work, but I just did not get pulled in to Cooper and Jessica's love story like I had hoped to. But it did have some sweet themes of finding a home and peace, trust, healing, and redemption. It does work as an introduction to a new series because it did make me intrigued by the upcoming stories and secrets that are hinted at.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

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Expected March 7, 2017

Hartwell, Delaware—the perfect place to get away from it all, and find what you never knew you needed…

Bailey Hartwell has many reasons to feel content—her successful business, a close circle of friends, and her steady boyfriend…even if their romance feels staid after ten years without a serious commitment. The only challenge in her life comes in the form of sexy businessman Vaughn Tremaine. She thinks the ex-New Yorker acts superior and that he considers her a small-town nobody. But when Bailey’s blindsided by a betrayal, she’s shocked to discover Vaughn is actually a decent guy.

Vaughn admires Bailey’s free spirit, independence, and loyalty. As his passion for her has grown, his antagonism toward her has only worsened. Every little thing Bailey does seduces him. But when Vaughn’s painful emotional past makes him walk away in fear he will hurt her, it opens an old wound in Bailey, and she uncharacteristically retreats.

Once Vaughn begins to realize he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he has no choice but to fight like he’s never fought before to convince Bailey that the love they’ve found together only comes around once in a lifetime.
Samantha Young  Website/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

About the author: Samantha Young is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the On Dublin Street series, including Moonlight on Nightingale Way, Echoes of Scotland Street, and Fall from India Place, as well as the standalone novel Hero. She resides in Scotland.


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