"Heartwarming Love Story...everyone deserves a second chance"
Reviewed by Susan Gorman
Posted March 28, 2017
Donna Alward's SOMEBODY LIKE YOU is a fabulous second
chance romance set in the small town of Darling, Vermont.
After an emotionally draining, awkward divorce, Laurel
Stone has returned home to Darling to heal. She has
purchased a garden center, joined the Chamber of Commerce
and has reconnected with several old friends. Although,
Laurel has been avoiding one person in particular--Aiden
Gallagher, the boy that broke her heart in high school.
However, she meets Aiden, now a member of the Darling
police force, when her business is vandalized. Aiden and
Laurel slowly begin to bond after her business is
vandalized a second time. He returns the garden center
after work and he helps her paint over graffiti.
Donna Alward is a new-to-me author. I love her descriptive
voice and how she carefully balanced Lauren's fear of being
hurt with Aiden's need to be forgiven in the novel. The
pacing of their story was perfect, the dialogue was both
honest and witty and the author did a fabulous job weaving
in the secondary character of George, a homeless veteran,
into both Lauren and Aiden's lives.
The secondary characters of George, Willow and Rory played
important roles in the plot. Through George, the author
provides an honest look at the emotional difficulties that
veterans encounter when they return home. The friendship
between Laurel and Willow and the back and forth banter
between Aiden and his brother Rory added humor, balance and
authenticity to the plot. I enjoyed the superbly written
scenes when calm, serene Willow offers Laurel unconditional
support and challenges Laurel to make peace with the past.
The powerful connection between the main characters
captivated me from the first chapter of the book and kept
me reading past my bedtime!
A kiss to last a lifetime
Aiden Gallagher was only five years old when he appeared in
a photograph on the Kissing Bridge. The town of Darling,
Vermont, has used Aidenâ€™s image on the famed bridgeâ€”local
legend has it that a kiss there results in everlasting
loveâ€”as part of its tourism campaign. Now, twenty years
later, Aiden is asked to recreate the moment with the woman
he once kissed: Laurel Stone.
Recently divorced, thereâ€™s nothing Laurel wants less than to
pretend happily-ever-after with Aiden. As teenagers, their
romance was no fairy taleâ€”and Laurel has never quite
forgiven Aiden for breaking her heart. But now that she is
back in her hometown, and keeps bumping into police officer
Aiden, Laurel canâ€™t deny that thereâ€™s still a strong flicker
between her and her old flame. Could it be that the Kissing
Bridge is working its magic on Laurel and Aidenâ€”and that all
true love ever needed was a second chance?
ExcerptBy the time they were through, it was nine oâ€™clock and time
to open. Being a Saturday, business was brisk. Her dad
dropped off the supplies and offered to stay to help cover
the tagging, but with the heavy shopping traffic, Laurel
decided to wait until things died down. For now the tarps
covered the tags, and sheâ€™d focus on her customers.
Otherwise her anger would get the best of her and that was
bad for business. By six p.m., things had slowed considerably.
Laurel had been going flat out for ten hours, stopping for
only fifteen minutes to run to The Purple Pig for a
sandwich. Her stomach growled, her feet hurt, there was dirt
beneath her nails and she really, really wanted a shower and
a glass of wineâ€”in that order. Laurel had just dragged out
the hose to water the fruit trees when a half-ton truck
drove into the lot and parked in an empty space.
The driver hopped out, and her heart slammed against her
ribs as she immediately realized how she must look. Dirty
jeans, mannish golf shirt that did nothing for her figure,
scrubby ponytail through a Ladybug Garden Center ball cap,
and probably smudges of dirt on her face and arms. Not that
she was trying to look nice for Aiden or anything, but it
was him getting out of the truck, looking sexy as hell in
faded jeans and a T-shirt that stretched across his chest
She could pretend she hadnâ€™t seen him. Resolutely she turned
on the hose and started watering the apple trees.
â€śHey, Laurel,â€ť he called out, and that erased any hope of
She turned off the hose and faced him. â€śAiden. What brings
you by? Looking for a shrub or tree or something?â€ť
Keep it businesslike, she reminded herself. The last thing
she needed was for him to know that he had the ability to
â€śI heard about what happened.â€ť
Of course he had.
â€śDonâ€™t even. Iâ€™m still pissed.â€ť
â€śI know itâ€™s not what you needed. Did Crystal tell you that
you werenâ€™t the only one hit?â€ť
Crystal must be the officer from this morning. â€śShe did.â€ť
â€śWell, that must make you feel better.â€ť
She stared at him. â€śBetter? Seriously? Since I opened a
month ago, Iâ€™ve had to have the driveway re-graded, Iâ€™ve had
to replace shrubs that were stolen from out front, deal with
a break-in and vandalism, and now tagging. Trust me, Aiden,
the only thing that would feel better is if you actually did
your job and found out who was doing this.â€ť
She turned the hose back on.
He waited. He waited a long time. Several seconds, maybe
thirty. Which was really not that long at all but definitely
felt that way. She was watering the third tree when he
sighed. â€śYouâ€™re upset.â€ť
â€śNo shit, Sherlock.â€ť
He met her gaze, and his eyes were soft, even though sheâ€™d
basically just accused him of not doing his job. The
understanding she saw there made her stomach churn. She
didnâ€™t want to lash out, but that was what she did when she
was hurt. Angry.
Stopping by was kind and thoughtful. She kept trying to make
him out to be a bad guy, and he kept being nice. It
definitely made it difficult for her to hate him.
Particularly since her biochemistry betrayed her at every
turn. Even now, when she was utterly preoccupied with the
dayâ€™s events, she seemed to notice everything. His hair, his
eyes, the breadth of his chest, the armband tattoo that
looked like some sort of Celtic braid, peeking just below
the hem of his T- shirt sleeve. The shape of his lips . . .
He muttered something that was as creative a curse as sheâ€™d
ever heard, and sounded suspiciously Irish. She couldnâ€™t
help but laugh, and tried to clamp her lips shut again. But
not before he saw and heard, and his eyes took on an impish
â€śYouâ€™re not fine. Youâ€™re tired and upset and rightfully so.
Youâ€™re also just as stubborn as you always were.â€ť He put his
hands on his hips. â€śI take it youâ€™re not adverse to help,
just help from me in particular.â€ť
Her face heated. Dammit.
â€śMaybe this could be my penance,â€ť he suggested, giving her a
quick grin. And she wished she could take him seriously, but
he always seemed to be teasing. It was one of the things
sheâ€™d really liked about him and hated at the same time.
Particularly now, when she wanted to be, if not mad,
completely unaffected. And she wasnâ€™t. He was trying to
cajole her out of her mood and it was working.
â€śItâ€™s Saturday night. Donâ€™t you have a hot date or
something?â€ť She turned on the hose again. Focused on the
large plastic pot holding a cherry tree.
â€śNope. Free as a bird.â€ť
â€śCome on, Laurel. Peace offering. Manual labor for you to
stop hating me.â€ť
She glanced over at him. â€śWhy do you care so much?â€ť
He was quiet for a moment, and to her surprise the teasing
expression left his face. After a while he answered, his
voice a little lower. â€śI donâ€™t know why I care what people
think so much. I always have. I donâ€™t like anyone to be mad
at me. Maybe it has something with being one of the younger
siblings in the family. I donâ€™t know. I just know that I
donâ€™t like it that youâ€™re still so angry.â€ť His intense blue
gaze locked with hers. â€śItâ€™s starting to become a personal
mission to win you over. To atone for past sins.â€ť
â€śGood luck,â€ť she said dryly, more touched than she wanted to
His boyish grin was back. â€śCome on, Laurel. You know you
canâ€™t hold out forever. You think Iâ€™m hot.â€ť He had the
audacity to wink at her.
She rolled her eyes.
â€śYou do. You have a thing for gingers. And you have to
admit, I grew up kinda good.â€ť His hands were still on his
hips and he tensed his muscles so that his shoulders and
chest tightened beneath the thin T- shirt.
â€śI think youâ€™re a bit taken with yourself, to be honest,â€ť
she replied. And tried not to smile. She didnâ€™t want to be
charmed, but he was incorrigible.
Damn, his voice was all silky- smooth now. â€śYes, Mr.
â€śYou know damn well you want to hate me and you canâ€™t.
Besides, I saw your face just now. Maybe if I took off my
shirt . . .â€ť
â€śWould you like to go somewhere private to be with
yourself?â€ť she asked, biting the inside of her lip. She
shouldnâ€™t be enjoying this so much. And she wouldnâ€™t be, if
she thought he was serious. But he was teasing her.
Like he used to do when they were friends. And today . . .
she swallowed against a ball of emotion. Today she needed a
friend, and all sheâ€™d had were well- meaning customers.
She looked over at him. â€śJeez, Aiden. Youâ€™re looking a
little flushed. I think you could stand to cool off.â€ť And
before he could reply, she flicked her wrist and aimed the
spray of the hose right at the center of his chest.
The abrupt shock on his face was gratification enough, but
then he grinned and reached to take away the hose. She
danced away, still spraying him, admiring how the shirt now
clung to his skin and the little droplets lit up his face
and hair. A laugh bubbled up through her chest and out her
mouth as she darted around the trees, dragging the hose with
her. But there were too many pots and not enough room to
maneuver and within seconds he caught her, wrapped one
strong arm around her and wrenched the hose away with the
other, spraying her in the process.
Cold water dripped from her nose, down her neck, over her
bare arms. Aiden held her close against his body, close
enough she could feel the hardness of his muscles, and
thrilled at it. Their breaths came fast, their chests rising
and falling with both laughter and the exertion of the
struggle over the hose. But it was the way he was looking
down at her right now that made her feel as if the lack of
air was strangling her lungs. All it would take was the
tiniest move and heâ€™d be kissing her. Her gaze dropped to
his lipsâ€” heâ€™d always had fine lipsâ€” and she swallowed,
nervous and scared at her reaction and turned on as hell.
She looked up, which was a mistake. Because he was staring
at her lips. And his arm tightened just a little bit at the
hollow of her back. Oh God . . .
A car horn honked and Laurel jumped back. He let her go, but
the gravity of the moment remained.
Copyright Â© 2017 by Donna Alward and
reprinted by permission of St. Martinâ€™s Paperbacks.
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