by Liz Crowe
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
Short teaser: A second chance means never giving up on love.
Longer teaser: An ex-boyfriend, his massive dog, her small apartment, and no hotel rooms in sight. What could go wrong?
When Blair ended things for good with her long-time boyfriend, she knew she’d have to get away–and stay away–from him. Which meant leaving family, friends, and the only life she knew in Michigan in her rearview mirror and opening a farm-to-table restaurant in a new city. Being owner/head chef keeps her plenty busy, especially since “Blair’s Kitchen” has become the talk of the restaurant scene thanks to its fresh approach to food, drinks, and paying her staff a living wage. She’s managed to avoid traveling home for almost a decade, but when her best friend needs her help, she drops everything and heads back, figuring she’s had enough time away to resist Brandis’ pull.
After years spent fighting addiction and the fall-out from personal tragedy, including losing Blair thanks to his own bad behavior, Brandis has spent the last ten putting his life in order. As the third-generation president of his family’s successful construction company, he’s added several new services, including a program that hires at-risk teens and pays them to learn construction skills. He’s also reconstructed his relationships with his family and is his older sister’s go-to kid wrangler. He’s even adopted a dog, thanks to some donated renovation time spent at the local animal shelter. He’s got everything he needs—except a girlfriend.
When the contractor she’d already paid to build her restaurant’s expansion takes her check and vanishes, leaving her with a giant mess and little money, Blair only hesitates a moment before calling Brandis. She’d managed fine when she’d seen him in Michigan, after all. What could go wrong? Famous last words, she figures, when she realizes that the weekend he comes to evaluate her crisis is so busy there isn’t a hotel room to be found in a ten-mile radius. So they settle into a routine—her, her one-time boyfriend, and his giant, slobbering dog in her small house. It doesn’t take long for the temptation of close proximity to give way, and while Blair is determined to make it nothing more than physical, Brandis has other ideas.
The end of the Stewart Realty series saga brings the second generation full-circle in ways many never expected, but no one regrets.
Full disclosure: I’ve read the entire series when it first came out. Yes, I’m one of those. I cried, wailed, laughed, smiled, got mad at Ms. Crowe but ultimately, it’s one of my all-time favorite series ever. You will feel every emotion plus some that you didn’t know you had. That’s how good Ms. Crowe is at writing. She doesn’t hold back with her characters either. However, with Brandis and Blair, I felt like she held back a bit. Did that make the story weak? Nope, not at all. In fact, I appreciated that there wasn’t the soul-crushing, wailing that I normally have when I read a Stewart Realty book. This one felt fresh, sweet in a way, and oh so satisfying in the end.
One compliant…MORE JACK!!!!!! Sorry, Liz but I needed more but I’m a selfish *itch when it comes to him. Not to mention, how is Craig? But I digress. When Ms. Crowe revamped the series, I just couldn’t read it. See above. I feel like now that I need to read the new version of Good Faith. I think I have it on my Nook or maybe my older Kindle, IDK. Anyway, you can read this book without reading the new version of Good Faith. At least for me but that’s because I read the original version. Ms. Crowe gives enough of the backstory with Brandis and Blair that even a novice reader will understand the dynamic and the story. Plus, there is a dog named Tiny. Oh my goodness, that dog.
Ms. Crowe manages to bring back the characters that had more to do with the whole Brandis/Blair saga and I really liked them in the story. They brought some humor, kindness, and a little bit of humility that they both needed in their journey back together. Gabe is the one character that lost a lot with both of them from the beginning. I was super happy to have him back and featured so prominently in the book. My heart is still recovering from him. Literally, it broke in two in Good Faith. Plus, I forgot how much of a Drama Queen Bethany was. Lord, she cracks me up.
The book is both sweet and poignant. Their story in some ways mirrored Jack and Sara’s. Denial, longing, and yes, love is what makes this love story so special. Ms. Crowe goes out with a bang in the conclusion to her epic masterpiece. I just wish it didn’t have to end. Blair and Brandis are the next generation of Gordon’s to be reckoned with, just like their parents. The Frietag’s rock, too. In fact, I was a little worried about Rob with Brandis. But hey, Brandis needed a bit of fear and uncertainty.
I could go on and on about the book and how the overall series has affected me as a person and blogger but I won’t. You just need to read this book and find out for yourself. One day, I will go back and re-read the whole series again. This book brought back all the raw emotions that I had some years ago and I’m so not prepared for that. That’s why Brandis and Blair will always hold a special place in my heart. They not only healed each other but me as well. Thank you Liz Crowe for writing this series and for the glorious ending to it all. Sara would be proud.
“He’s doing really well, Blair.”
She froze, her jaw locked, her heart pounding in her ears. “Don’t,” she squeaked out.
“Seriously, I think that…well, I think you guys should…”
“Don’t you dare, Gabriel Freitag.” She kept her voice as level as she could manage. “You are one of the reasons I left, one of the main reasons. I couldn’t bear to keep watching him fail, and to keep watching you watch me, you know?” Her voice cracked. She could hardly believe she was even having this conversation, after all these years all these words went unsaid. “Don’t you fucking dare.”
“I know, I know, but listen, hear me out. He’s really…great right now. His company is gangbusters. He’s added this whole, I don’t know, a handyman thing he calls it the Honey Do Crew. And he’s mentoring at-risk kids out of juvi, hiring them for scut work, and making sure they get good supervision so they can get job experience. He…he got a dog, Blair.”
The look in her brother’s eyes broke her already fragile heart. Brandis Gordon. He was the Great Unspoken Mistake of her young life. The thing that had come between her, her parents, her brother, her friends. He’d been a golden boy, rising star football player, stellar student, the handsome son of attractive, successful parents who happened to be her own parents’ best friends. They’d celebrated nearly every single holiday together, traveled and vacationed as a giant, rowdy group, partied together for birthdays, parental anniversaries, graduations, the works.
Until she and Brandis had gone and fallen for each other in the way only teenagers could—fully, and with the sort of gusto and conviction that had, at first, been the one thing she’d lived for. Then he had fallen apart on so many different levels and in so many different ways. She shuddered with the force of memory and held up both hands.
“Gabe, please don’t ever do that to me again. I left him, and my home, my family, behind on purpose. Because I had to do it. Brandis and I will never be anything but a memory. Period. I have to get some sleep.” She whirled on her heel and marched into the bathroom in the hallway, slammed the door, leaned her back against it, and slid to the floor, tears rolling down her cheeks.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in Central Illinois. She’s spent her time as a three-continent ex-pat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner, and bar manager, and is currently a social media consultant and humane society development director, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, at times frustrate, and always linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
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