Monday, February 16, 2015

Sweet Talking Man - Liz Talley (HS #1972 - Feb 2015)

Series: Home in Magnolia Bend (Book 2)

Who doesn't want a little sweet talk?

Leif Lively is the hottest thing to happen to Magnolia Bend. But single mother Abigail Orgeron figures he's another heartbreaker and does her best to ignore the steamy glances he tosses her way. When he speaks, though, her resistance crumbles! His sweet words, humor and laid-back ways captivate buttoned-up Abigail.

For once, losing control feels so good, and this no-strings arrangement is getting serious. What will she do when Leif solves the family mystery that brought him to town and decides to leave? Because she's learning that the biggest love means taking the biggest risk…

Good book, with two main characters who are outside the usual types. Abigail is forty years old, divorced and the mother of a twelve year old girl. Since her husband ran off with a younger woman five years earlier, she has become a bit on the uptight side. She dresses conservatively, is very organized, and follows all the rules. She's very conscious of her reputation as the daughter of the local preacher and as the PTA president. She's horrified when she finds her daughter, Birdie (Brigitte), spying on the new guy that moved in nearby.

Leif is an artist, tall, handsome, with blond hair that reaches his shoulders. He is also a vegan, wears unusual clothing, and the essence of a hippie. He has also broken three engagements, indicating that he has some trouble with commitments. He is the son of an artist who used to live in Magnolia Bend. She had left town, pregnant, when a local man died, afraid she'd be accused of his death. On her deathbed she confessed to Leif that his father didn't know about him and begged him to make things right. She died before telling Leif his name. So he applied for and got the job as the new art teacher at the local school, planning to search for the truth while he was there.

In spite of being complete opposites, there is a strong attraction between Abigail and Leif. He doesn't understand why he's so drawn to her, because she is nothing like the women he's usually with. He does know that he enjoys ruffling her feathers. But he's also really sensitive to her feelings. I loved the way that he showed up at her place after witnessing her ex-husband's arrival back in her life, Abigail isn't happy about her attraction to Leif at the beginning, and she can't see him wanting any kind of involvement with her. But he's sweet and funny and brings a passion and excitement to her life she hasn't felt in a long time.

I loved seeing how their no-strings relationship grew and changed. Leif has spent most of his adult life searching for something to fill the void the lack of a father has caused, a sense that he doesn't belong anywhere. Even his three fiancees have never been able to reach that part of him. But he finds himself letting Abigail get closer than anyone else ever has. He goes from wanting no strings to realizing that he's in love with her, and wanting more than the secret affair they have going on. 

I loved seeing the effect that Leif has on Abigail. She is so wrapped up in appearances at the beginning, and by the end she has finally seen that she needs to live the life that's right for her. I loved the way that his appreciation of who she is gives her the confidence to stand up for herself. The one thing that she is still fighting is the fear of risking her heart again. When Leif wants more, she backs away. An unexpected event shows her that she has the courage to go after what she wants after all.

The characters all felt very real to me, with realistic emotions and actions. Abigail's ex-husband's reappearance added another layer to her stress and also showed her changes. I loved the way that she tried to make clear to him that he had no chance with her. His selfishness and the way he tried to manipulate Abigail via Birdie was pretty bad. Birdie herself was pretty realistic as a preteen. Her attitude toward her mother was typical of many her age, but she seemed to take it to a new level. Her part in the events at the end was especially cruel to her mother. I liked what Abigail says to her, but would like to have seen more of what the consequences were.

Leif's search for his father was a big part of the book and I enjoyed how it progressed. I loved the characters who helped him, especially Hilda. Much of his insecurity could be laid at his feelings of loss, not having known his father. I liked Abigail's support of Leif and his search. I liked the ending and the realistic progression that it showed.

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