Sunday, March 25, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Jake's Return by Liana Laverentz

Jake's Return
Liana Laverentz

Release Date: October 19th, 2009
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Page Count: 203
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

The last person small town bad boy Jacob Donovan expects to find when he returns home in disgrace after serving time is Rebecca Reed, head librarian. Rebecca had always had much bigger ambitions. Jake hadn't wanted to stand in her way, so after one night of passion with his former best friend, he'd hit the open road.

Rebecca refuses to believe Jake is guilty of murder. The boy who'd been her friend and protector when they were town outcasts together could never have killed a woman. Not to mention the tender, loving man who'd given her their daughter, Katie.

But who is Jake now? That's what everyone wants to know, including the town council chairman, who is determined to send Jake back to prison, by any means available.

Jake's been running from love for all of his life. Will he find the courage to defeat his demons and stay this time?
What Stephanie Thinks: Laverentz does it again! I was so pleased with Thin Ice, which I reviewed back in August, and even more thrilled when Liana contacted me asking if I'd like to review her other books too. I love her writing style, as well as the realistic, yet still edgy and intriguing contortions in her stories. Jake's Return once again impressed me with its essentially Laverentzian elements: the perfect villain and the perfect crime; childhood sweethearts, Rebecca and Jake, who only spared one hot night together; and most riveting of all: a burden of proof created between them, which publicly acknowledges the intensity of their love, thus counteracting all denials of it. You don't get any better than that.

The plot is just complicated enough, involving a love child and a scandalous homecoming, but it's simple and straightforward—nothing confusing and nothing TOO deep. The frisson between Rebecca and Jake absolutely sucks me in. Each of them, as characters, comes to life from the pages, making me fall in love with them, even with all their flaws. And of course there's little Katie. Laverentz has a knack of tugging at your heart by using adorable irresistible children. How very, very manipulative of her.

Overall this book was the perfect blend of suspense, airy questions, and heat. I loved it, but the only complaint I have is that Jake and Rebecca's relationship was too coy—there is so much of 'you deserve better than me's and 'I love you but won't ever tell's that seemed a bit immature at their age. This isn't a high school romance; I felt both Jake and Rebecca, as adults, should have been able to voice their feelings better, no matter how difficult it is to admit to falling in love. It was frustrating for me as the reader because the sexual tension made me want them to get together already, dammit! I like sexual tension in a story, but this as a whole was more irritating than it was suspenseful. And it was sort of encompassing because the whole book revolves around the relationship. Nothing that upset me too much, but was just spread throughout.

If you're looking for a romance that's not ALL romance, but also family sentiment, small-town values, and thundering suspense; if you're looking for a book that surrounds two very lost and very in love characters who learn to make the best of what they have—especially in circumstances and disasters they have no control over—I would totally recommend Jake's Return. I love the fuzzy feeling I get when I read Laverentz's stories. I guarantee you will too.

Stephanie Loves: "Her all-out smile did dangerous things to his libido."

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥