Saturday, January 10, 2015

ARC Review: Letting Hearts Heal by Luna Jensen

Mason returns to Sweet Valley, Montana, with nothing but a backpack full of rejections. After nearly a decade in the big city experiencing the highest highs and lowest lows, his heart and spirit are shattered. Fire robbed him of cooking—the only thing he’s good at—and now he’s out of options.
Thrust into instant fatherhood, Dean struggles to find a balance between getting to know his young son and building his business. Meeting Mason again after many years apart just adds another element to the juggling act. Dean’s vision for his ranch give them a chance to work together—to find each other and to heal—but it’s no easy feat for a grief-stricken little boy, an overwhelmed loner used to focusing only on his work, and an insecure chef. Can they find the path to healing and happiness?

Dani's rating:

This is a rather slow-moving, uneven story of two former high school best friends and lovers reconnecting after nine years.

Dean is busy modernizing the ranch he inherited from his cold and distant father. Dean has dozens of ideas, from catering weddings to creating a monthly fresh produce box with recipes.

He has also recently been thrown into the role of daddy when Wyatt, the 4-year-old son he didn't know he had, comes to live with him. Wyatt is is the result of a one-night stand Dean had years ago with a woman in a desperate attempt to pretend he might be straight.

Dean, ever so careful about using condoms, apparently forgot just the once. Wyatt's mother, who before her death in a car accident was seemingly poor and an alcoholic, knew Dean was the father but never contacted him about child support. Right, because that's totally believable.

Enter's Mason, back after being forced out of town by his bigoted family and Dean's cruel father. Mason is a chef scared of cooking. He was traumatized by two kitchen fires and now has a phobia so extreme he can't even make pancakes.

There were way too many ideas here, none of them particularly well executed. The connection between Mason and Dean was lukewarm at best, and the story had almost no steam.

Wyatt, Dean's son, was a perfect angel. He was quiet, obedient (except for one time where it served the plot for him not to be), brilliant, never spoke out of turn, played quietly on his own, napped at all hours, ate a lot of peas, went to sleep each night without a fight, and was a joy to take to the mall.

Mason never minded shopping, and Wyatt made it downright fun. Said no parent EVER.

This book was set on a ranch in Montana, but it didn't feel like Montana or a ranch. There were general, vague, Wiki-like descriptions but no details, nothing concrete or real or tangible that would ground the reader in a place. I did not believe that these guys were cowboys.

Dean seemed to be drowning in money. Cost was never an issue, even though he didn't seem to have a big source of steady income.

The MCs tip-toe around each other and finally get together (at 56 percent) only to have Mason ask for space (at 70 percent) so he can heal from his fear of fires and abandonment (he still stays on the ranch, just moves back to the guest room). This felt false. You don't break the only good thing in your life so you can fix something else.

There was no tension here, no momentum. A couple melodramatic plot points were thrown in, but overall the story, while sweet in parts, was flat and uninspired.

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