My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is my first book from Julia London and although it’s the third installment in the Lake Haven series, it’s a complete standalone. I thoroughly enjoyed this sweet and funny contemporary romance! The relationship between single mother, Kyra and her grumpy neighbor, Dax is slow burning and intense so the “Suddenly” in the title isn’t really too sudden. However that was easy for me to overlook because the story was written so well with characters that were believable and felt real and a delightfully engrossing plotline. And while the story is told from Dax and Kyra’s POV, the bridge that connects them is the adorable and rambunctious Ruby. I loved not only the give and take between Kyra and Dax but also the dry humor and funny banter between Dax and Ruby. As a bonus, the secondary characters were hilarious! I’d definitely like to go back and read the others in this series. Told from dual POVs with a sweet end. I received, read and voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
Kyra and Dax let go so easilyor has love become a preexisting condition?
mother Kyra Kokinos spends her days waiting tables, her nights working on her
real estate license, and every spare moment with her precocious six-year-old
daughter, Rubyespecially when Ruby wont stop pestering their grumpy next-door
neighbor. At first glance, Dax Bishop seems like the kind of gruff, solitary
guy whod be unlikely to offer a cup of sugar, let alone a marriage proposal.
But thats exactly what happens when Ruby needs life-saving surgery.
up in East Beach a year ago, fresh from a painful divorce and looking for a
place where he could make furniture and avoid people. Suddenly his life is
invaded by an inquisitive munchkin in sparkly cowboy bootsand her frazzled,
too-tempting mother. So he presents a practical plan: his insurance will help
Ruby, and then they can divorcezero strings attached.
Kyra and Dax find their engagement of convenience is simple in name only. As
their attraction deepens, a figure from the past reappears, offering a way out.
Can Kyra and Dax let go so easilyor has love become a preexisting condition?
He’d known that family was going to be trouble the moment they’d arrived a few days ago. They’d cost him a table leg he’d been working on, because they’d slammed a door so loudly and unexpectedly that Dax had started, and the permanent marker he was using to outline a very intricate pattern on said table leg had gone dashing off in a thick, black, indelible line down the leg. He’d had to sand the leg down and start again.
Naturally, he’d gone to investigate the source of the banging, and he’d seen a woman with a backpack strapped to her leaning into the open hatch area of a banged-up Subaru. She’d pulled out a box, hoisted it into her arms with the help of her knee, then had lugged it up the path and porch steps to Number Three. She’d been wearing short shorts, a T-shirt, and a ball cap. Dax hadn’t seen her face, but he’d seen her legs, which were nice and long and shapely, and a mess of dark hair about the same color as wrought iron, tangled up in the back of the cap. She’d managed to open the door, and then had gone in, letting the door bang behind her.
Neighbors. Dax was not a fan.
The door of Number Three had continued to bang away most of the afternoon, and Dax had been unable to work. He’d stood at the kitchen sink, eating from a can of peanuts, watching the woman jog down the front porch steps, then lug something else inside. He’d noticed other things about her. Like how her ass was bouncy and her figure had curves in all the right places, and how her T-shirt hugged her. He’d noticed that she looked really pretty from a distance, with wide eyes and dark brows and full lips.
Of course he’d also noticed the little monster, who’d spent most of the afternoon doing a clomp clomp clomp around the wooden porch in those damn pink cowboy boots.
Kids. If anything could make Dax grumpier, it was a cute kid.
He’d turned away from the window in a bit of a snit. Of course he was used to people renting any one of six East Beach Lake Cottages around him for a week or two, and usually they had kids. He much preferred the olds who took up weekly residence from time to time, couples with puffs of white hair, sensible shoes, and early bedtimes. Families on vacation were loud, their arguments drifting in through the windows Dax liked to keep open.
The cottages were at the wrong end of Lake Haven, which made them affordable. But they were at the right end of beauty each of them faced the lake, and a private, sandy beach was only a hundred feet or so from their front porches. He’d been lucky to find this place, with its unused shed out back, which he’d negotiated to use. He had to remind himself that his setup was perfect when new people showed up and banged their doors open and shut all damn day.
Dax had realized that afternoon, as the banging had undone him, that the woman and kid were moving in no one hauled that much crap into a cottage for a vacation. He’d peered out the kitchen window, trying to assess exactly how much stuff was going into that cottage. But by the time he did, the Subaru was closed up, and he didn’t see any signs of the woman and the kid.
He’d wandered outside for a surreptitious inspection of what the hell was happening next door when the door suddenly banged open and the mom came hurrying outside. She’d paused on the bottom step of the porch when she saw him. Her dark hair had spilled around her shoulders and her legs had taunted him, all smooth and shapely and long in those short shorts. Don’t look, those legs shouted at him. Don’t look, you pervert, don’t look! Dax hadn’t looked. He’d studied the keys in her hand.
“Hi”, she’d said uncertainly.
She kept smiling. Dax kept standing there like an imbecile. She leaned a little and looked around him, to Number Two. “Are you my neighbor?”
“What? Oh, ah . . . yeah. I’m Dax.”
“Hi, Dax. I’m Kyra,” she’d said. That smile of hers, all sparkly and bright, had made him feel funny inside. Like he’d eaten one of those powdered candies that crackled when it hit your mouth.
“I wondered about my neighbors. Its pretty quiet around here. I saw a car in front of one the cottages down there,” she said, pointing.
“Five,” he said.
He’d suddenly felt weirdly conspicuous, seeing as how he was standing around with nothing to do. “That’s Five,” he said, to clarify.
“You’re in Three. I’m in Two.”
He’d been instantly alarmed by what he was doing, explaining the numbering system on a series of six cottages. She’d looked as if she’d expected him to say more. When he hadn’t said anything, but sort of nodded like a mute, she’d said, “Okay, well . . . nice to meet you,” and had hurried on to her car much like a woman would hurry down a dark street with some stranger walking briskly behind her. She opened the door, leaned in . . . nice view . . . then emerged holding a book. She locked the door, then ran past him with a weird wave before disappearing inside.
Dax had told himself to get a grip. There was nothing to panic over.
He hadn’t panicked until much later that afternoon, when he’d happened to glance outside and had seen a respectable pile of empty moving boxes on the front porch and the little monster trying to build a house out of them.
That was definitely a long-term stay. And he didn’t like that, not one bit.
He’d managed to keep busy and avoid his new neighbors for a few days, but then, yesterday, the truck had shown up, treating him to the sound of a large HEMI engine idling near his bedroom window.
He’d let it pass, would have figured it was someone visiting.
But it happened again. Just now.
Dax was in the middle of a good dream when that damn truck pulled in and groggily opened his eyes, noticed the time. It was a good hour before he liked to get up. Was this going to be a regular thing, then? He groaned and looked to his right; Otto was sitting next to the bed, staring at Dax, his tail thumping. “Use the damn dog door, Otto,” he tried, but that had only excited the dog. He jumped up and put his big mutt paws on Dax.
With a grunt, Dax had pushed the dog aside, then staggered into the kitchen. He heaped some dog food into a metal bowl and put it on the ground. In the time it took him to fire up the coffeepot, Otto had eaten his food and was standing at the back door, patiently waiting.
Dax opened the door. He glanced over to Three. The Subaru was gone, and he couldn’t help wonder who was driving that massive red truck. A husband? A dad? Jesus, he hoped the guy wasn’t the chatty type. “Hey neighbor, whatcha working on over there?”
Yeah, no, Dax was in no mood for more neighbors or barbecue invitations or neighborly favors. But it was becoming clear to him that little Miss Ruby Coconuts was going to make his policy of isolationism really difficult.
Dax got dressed and went out to the shed to work. A few hours later he walked into the kitchen to grab some rags he’d washed in the sink and happened to look out his kitchen window.
The redheaded devil was hanging upside down off the porch railing of her house, her arms reaching for the ground. She was about three inches short, however, and for a minute Dax was certain she would crash headlong into that flowerbed and hurt herself. But she didn’t. She managed to haul herself up and hopped off the railing. And then she looked across the neat little lawn to Dax’s cottage.
“Don’t even think about it,” he muttered.
Ruby hesitated. She slid her foot off the porch and onto the next step down. Then the other foot. She leapt to the ground from there, looking down, admiring the lights in her shoes. Then she looked up at his cottage again.
“Don’t do it, you little monster. Don’t you dare do it.”
Ruby was off like a shot, headed for the fence.
the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers
Weekly bestselling author of more than forty romance novels. Her
historical titles include the popular Desperate Debutantes series, the Cabot
Sisters series, and the Highland Grooms series. Her contemporary works include
the Lake Haven series, the Pine River series, and the Cedar Springs series. She
has won the RT Book Club Award for Best Historical Romance and has been a
six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic
fiction. She lives in Austin, Texas.