I don’t know about you, but I’ve read pretty much everything Abby Jimenez has written to date. And I have to say, I really loved this one. It’s probably now my new favorite from her and I can’t wait to read the rest. Thanks to Read Forever for the gifted book.
After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.
While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.
Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?
This is quite possibly my favorite Abby Jimenez book to date. The Friend Zone and the others were great, but this one hit differently and I welcome it very much.
The story hits the ground running as our protagonists, Alexis and Daniel, meet when Alexis’s car is stuck in a ditch and Daniel happened to be around and help. From there, Alexis goes to the local watering hole only to see Daniel there again. Daniel’s friends have a bet going to see who can pick up the girl at the bar. Alexis and Daniel discuss the bet and Alexis decides to help him win it by walking out with him. From there, these two start their romance with some major exceptions.
Alexis Montgomery comes from a very long line of doctors who’ve worked in this one hospital for decades. They’re the rich, legacy family who only breeds to make more Montgomerys and continue their line of work. After her brother ran off with a pop star and moved to Cambodia, Alexis is now the new face of the Montgomery family. And while Alexis is an excellent doctor, she’s been thrust into this role against her will. Her parents are overbearing believers of “we know best” forcing her to stay in an abusive relationship because the guy has the reputation deserving of their respect as chief of surgery.
Daniel Grant is quite the opposite. He’s also from a legacy family, but his legacy is much smaller being the mayor of a super small town in rural Minnesota. He also runs the local B&B, makes furniture from reclaimed wood, and honestly cares for the townspeople and his guests. And while he is a legacy, no one in his family is forcing him to do anything. He wants to continue what he’s doing because there’s no one else around to do it.
And their relationship together is beautiful. It’s the kind of relationship you want; where your partner is supportive and caring and doesn’t get bogged down by petty things like wealth or status. However, with Alexis’s family breathing down her neck to make something of her career and marry the man her father approves, she doesn’t see the relationship lasting in the long run.
I also really loved the conflict in this story. There are some romances I read where the conflict just feels so not real. However, being from two different worlds where you’re not sure if it’ll mesh well but doing it anyway felt real to me. Rich girl, poor boy dynamic? Yeah, pretty much but not in a condescending way. It was obvious at the beginning that Alexis was a bit of a snob, but as the story unfolds and she learns more from Daniel, she really takes on some serious character growth. It really made me proud for her. And the opposite can be said about Daniel as he learns to step out of his comfort zone, take charge, and live the dream life he’s always wanted.
One of the major themes in this book (as Abby Jimenez always has a bigger theme around her novels) is physical, mental, and emotional domestic abuse. You see it in many ways and it resonated deeply with me. Being emotionally abused to believe that love is earned and conditional really takes a toll on your brain and seeing a main character who exhibits the same behaviors I did when I was younger truly made me feel seen. It’s not something that just goes away overnight, but permeates into everything you do and the relationships you hold in the future. I’m still learning from it. But it was really nice to see and feel seen because of it. I wish it wasn’t that particular part of my life that I resonated with, but I appreciate its existence regardless.
I truly loved the characters in this book. Not only were Alexis and Daniel interesting characters to read and see what happens to them, but their friends and relatives also felt extremely well developed. I know this book is only the first in a new series for Abby Jimenez, so I know that the next few books will be based around the secondary characters from this book. And I can’t wait! Bri, Alexis’s best friend, was definitely the kind of person you want to root for, and Doug, Daniel’s best friend, was another.
The story was also laugh out loud funny. I found myself giggling more than one time throughout the book (especially during the dick pic photo shoot scene). It felt like I knew these people when in reality they were just pure fiction. And the prose were really beautiful. I found myself bookmarking more than one really great quote about love.
Overall, this was such a great read and a romance where I felt like the ending wouldn’t be an HEA. I was on the edge of my seat to see how it all ends and while I’m not a huge fan of the epilogue, the rest was definitely worth the read.