IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR
For years there'd been only one woman in Liam Donovan's life -- his beloved nanny, who'd raised him as her own. But someone is clearly taking advantage of Ruth, which brings the studly CEO back to Crimson, the place he was all too happy to have left behind. And there Liam finds Ruth has live-in help -- in the form of his high school love, Natalie Holt, and her adorable son… He better not fall for Nat a second time -- because what if she is the cause of his nanny's missing money?
If Natalie had time for any guy besides her son, it would not be Liam Donovan, who'd broken her heart once, and now seems to think she could add thief to her long list of job titles! She could prove easily enough that she can be trusted with the money -- but can Natalie trust Liam with her heart…again?
Lovely story of Christmas and second chances. Liam has come back to Crimson to check up on his old nanny. He believes that someone is stealing from her and wants to put a stop to it. He doesn't expect to find his old girlfriend and her son living there, too, and possibly the source of the missing money. Natalie is equally unhappy to see Liam, especially when she finds out about his suspicions. She's far too busy trying to make ends meet to deal with him right now, but he isn't going away any time soon.
Liam and Natalie each blame the other for the end of their high school romance. Both had had reasons for their decisions that the other either didn't know or didn't understand. Now that they are back in contact, all those old memories and feelings are coming back, but neither is ready to trust their hearts again.
I liked Liam a lot. I felt badly for him because he has always felt that Ruth was the only one who ever really loved him. He spent years working for his father, trying to win his approval, and has now decided to go out on his own. Even now he thinks that people are only nice to him because they want something from him. Though he is initially suspicious of Natalie, he really doesn't want to believe that she is guilty of stealing from Ruth. Liam is also dealing with a bunch of guilty feelings, from the death of a friend ten years earlier to feeling like he's been neglecting his relationship with Ruth. The walls that he's built up over the years start to crumble under the influence of her love and from being around Natalie again. There were times when he seemed to be trying too hard, such as decorating the house, and others when things seemed to come naturally. I really liked seeing him with Natalie's son Austin and how easily they got along. He also has to face his fear of whether other people in town hold him responsible for his friend's death. I loved seeing him reconnect with old friends, and his surprise at how they treat him.
Natalie was great. She has dealt with so much over her life that she feels that she can only really count on herself. She divorced her husband when he became controlling and abusive, but is still dealing with him and his demands because she wants to protect her son. She works multiple jobs just to make ends meet. She also has a neurotic mother to contend with, one whose influence on her she only started to recognize recently. Liam's return has her looking at her past decisions with different eyes.
Neither Liam nor Natalie expected their old feelings to make a comeback. Both were determined to protect their hearts from being broken again and tried hard to resist what they were feeling. Liam tried very hard to believe that Ruth was the only reason he was staying in Crimson for so long, but it was obvious to everyone around that Natalie still meant something to him. His growing feelings for her scare him, especially when he's sure that she's hiding something from him. When it comes out, what he feels is her lack of trust in him makes him feel rejected all over again. Natalie's feelings for Liam are also growing, aided by the way he treats her son. But she's ashamed of the mistake she made by marrying her husband. She also suspects that her problems with him have something to do with Ruth's missing money, which is something she really doesn't want to admit to Liam. The confrontation between them leaves them both hurting. I loved seeing Liam's friend Tanner be blunt with him about what he sees Liam doing. I loved Natalie's big moment at the end and seeing both of them move forward with their future together.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.