Saturday, April 23, 2016

Book review: A Better Man by Candis Terry

I read and enjoyed three novels of the Sweet, Texas series by this author and I was curious to discover this new series. I was lucky enough to win a copy at her Facebook party, so it immediately went at the top of my priority list (I would've never thought I'd say this one day but, yes, I do have a priority list in my Kindle, for the books I want to read before the other four-hundred something I have no recollection of ever downloading... I wonder if this qualifies as compulsive book hoarding?).

Anyway, I started this new series with an open mind and no expectations, like I always do with a new series, and I was immediately pulled into the story. I liked that, for once, the book starts with the hero instead of the heroine, and pulls the reader into the hero's world before we get to meet the heroine. Jordan is a hockey star whose only goal is to continue his successful career, away from his hometown and his big family. When both his parents are killed while on vacation, he's forced to leave everything and rush home to save the family winery.

I have to admit I'm not a fan of players (not the "sports" kind of player, but the "playboy" one), so I was extremely wary about Jordan at first. A hot hockey player who likes to hop from one bed to another? Uh, sorry, not my cup of tea. Well, I ended up with a major crush on him before I even got to reach the end of chapter 2, and wanted to jump into the book and hug him. 

The man who comes off as cocky and shallow, turns out to be the outcast in his family, the one who always put his hockey career first and left his family behind. His goal to make it in the hockey world put a huge distance between him and his family and he only truly gets to realize how alone he is when he comes home for his parents' funeral and sees he's in none of the family pictures. That scene truly broke my heart. 

It was the only photo in the room with a single person in it. He blinked when he realized how loudly it defined his life.
All the photos placed around the room showed his family living life and having fun.
Without him.
His fault, not theirs.
Be careful what you wish for.
In that moment he realized what he'd missed and he wanted it back.

Lucy had a tough childhood, and she left her hometown as soon as she could, only to end up married to the first guy who showed interest in her. Three years into the abusive marriage, she decides it's time she took back her life. When she returns to her hometown, she's changed her last name and, since she was the nerd nobody ever looked twice at, she can go back to living unnoticed while doing a job she loves. Meeting Jordan Kincade after the way he humiliated her ten years before brings back all kinds of feelings. She just wishes she could hate him, that she could be immune to his charm but the moment he steps into her classroom, she knows this is going to be an impossible task.

It was all she could do to keep her heart at a normal pace and her legs solidly beneath her. If ever a man could be described as delicious, Jordan Kincade would be a menu's specialty of the day.
Too bad he was such a jerk.

Then there's Nicole, Jordan's teen sister who's the link between him and Lucy. She's hurt and hates Jordan's guts, so she's set on making his stay at Sunshine Valley a living hell. If becoming responsible for his younger sister wasn't enough of a tough job for him, the financial situation of the family winery is a mess and the Kincade brothers will also have to deal with a huge amount of money being stolen while their parents were still alive. A little bit of suspense and mystery was a nice added element to the story. Well done, Mrs. Terry!

Jordan realizes all he's lost while he's been away, and is determined to stay and really be part of the family, as well as help his sister get over her school problems, with a little assistance from Lucy. 
Working together so closely will not only be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but when they finally surrender to the attraction, well, what can I say: things will get steamy
There's a lot of character growth, both for the hero and the heroine, and I enjoyed following their journey to their happily ever after.

The side characters are mainly always the other Kincade brothers, and I have to say I really enjoyed reading their family moments—the sibling banter was really funny. I enjoyed getting to know the Kincades, and I'm curious to discover each brother's story. The excerpt at the end of the book promises another page turner. 

A Better Man isn't just a book about two people falling for each other and acting on their feelings; it is a story of redemption, of making up for the mistakes of the past and of strong family bonds. It's funny, romantic and quite sexy at some point—prudish me could've done without the steamy scenes, but the story is beautiful, the characters are relatable and the dialogues are entertaining, so this definitely deserves 4 stars, even though it made me blush a little every now and then.

If you're looking for a sexy and romantic weekend read, A Better Man would be a good pick, especially if you've enjoyed the Sweet, Texas series by the author. New town, new brothers, but always handsome and swoon worthy. 

For him, Lucy was like that special gold foil-wrapped chocolate in a box of assorted treats. You didn't know exactly what you were going to get until you unwrapped it and took a bite.


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