Monday, June 16, 2014

Book Review: Melting Into You (Book 2) By Tracey Alvarez

Melting Into You

Due South Series book 2

By: Tracey Alvarez

Reviewed by : Sandra Long

This novel is great as a stand alone story line but is even better if you have read book one in this series—In Too Deep—because having read the first book gives you the background knowledge which helps you understand the characters early on. But even if you have never seen book one, you will enjoy this book.

It is a love story, and who doesn’t love to read love stories. The two main characters are Kezia, a widow with a young daughter who also happens to be a leukemia survivor, so our leading lady has seen a lot of trouble and sorrow in her young life. Her marriage was not exactly a happy one and we learn the details as the story evolves. She has moved from the capitol city of New Zealand to our tiny island to make a fresh start for her and her daughter. She is the island’s school teacher and shares a home with Shaye, the chef at the local pub and the sister of our leading male character, Ben Harland.

Ben’s life has not been easy either. When he was 20 and a party guy, he had been out all night drinking with his mates and was sleeping it off the next morning when his dad wanted to go diving without a tank to practice for the annual contest. Since Ben was absent, his dad took his 18 year old sister, Piper, to be his safety back-up diver in case something went wrong. Something did go wrong and the dad died and his body was lost—either to sharks or the ocean, they never knew which. His sister was so distraught she left the island the day after their dad’s memorial service to try to lose her pain and guilt by becoming a police officer in the city. She almost totally stopped contact with her family. His mother was a total emotional wreck and his youngest sister, only 16 at the time, was also a mess. Someone had to try to keep the family together and support them financially, so Ben stepped up and took over his father’s whale watching tour boat business to provide the financial support, but no one gave them the emotional support they all needed and each dealt with it in their own way. Ben’s way was to drown himself in work, booze and one-night stands with tourists. He had decided never to date an island women because they would always be around and probably expect a long term relationship, for which he was not emotionally ready to commit.

Life on their small island changed over the years. Ben’s mom followed other islanders in turning her large home into a B & B because she needed the income and Ben had bought himself a small home near the one Kezia had bought and rented her spare room to Ben’s sister. Ben broke his leg and could not operate his tour boat and was in danger of losing it and the business their dad had started and loved.

Baby sister Shaye contacted middle child Piper with this information and Piper took a leave from her police job to come home and run the boat until Ben’s leg healed. All this happened in book one but these events played into book two as the family crisis re-united this super close family and they pretty much adopted Shaye’s housemate and her daughter. That was when and how the attraction between Ben and Kezia started.

Both Ben and Kezia fought against and denied their attraction for each other because of their pasts. Kezia had been hurt in love during her first marriage and her grief was more from the failed marriage than her widowhood. Ben had never had a long term relationship with any woman and was used to a night or two of wild sex with the pretty tourists that visited their island and then never see the woman again so he knew nothing about long term commitments or courtship. They were both afraid of getting involved with each other because each feared being hurt. The story is about how their relationship evolves, how it changes when an old one night stand shows up on Ben’s doorstep with a child that looks too much like his sisters for him to deny and leaves him with a 9 year old daughter temporarily, or he thinks it is temporary.

Ms. Alvarez is a very entertaining author. Her books do not go on and on about trivial things that have no bearing on the story line. Every page is filled with drama or romance or life circumstances that most of us have had to deal with at some time, so we can relate to one or more of the characters in her books. She spends time developing each character for us, so we know their personalities and we feel like we know them. Her characters are more like real life people than a lot of the hot romance books we are getting today. Personally I am tired of reading about the rich playboys who meet a naive poor girl and immediately has to have her, then falls in love with her and turns his life around just to win her love.

There have been too many of these with the almost identical story line in recent years. That makes Ms. Alvarez’s books even more enjoyable because even though we can always predict a rocky road for our star crossed lovers, they at least are more like real-life, down to earth people that we can relate to.I would highly recommend this novel to lovers of romance books and I would suggest reading book one first, though it is not necessary to be able to enjoy book two.

Kezia Murphy plays her widow card well. When you don’t trust people not to let you down, it’s easier to not get involved—and getting involved with a man who makes her skin sizzle just by looking at him would be una pazzia—crazy! Four years ago while Kezia’s daughter, Zoe, battled leukemia, a tragic accident stole her husband’s life. Starting over in the little town of Oban where she’s adopted into the close knit community on Stewart Island, Kezia and her daughter are all the family the other needs. Except Zoe yearns for more.

New Zealand’s worst candidate for instant fatherhood…

Ben doesn’t do gooey emotional stuff. He doesn’t do cozy home and family. And he sure isn’t the big teddy-bear Kezia Murphy, the woman he secretly fantasizes about, thinks he is. So when Jade, his surprise eight-year-old daughter arrives on his doorstep, he’s a D-minus student struggling to pass a crash-course in parenting.

They’ll either melt or raze their lives to the ground…

When the sparks of attraction between Kezia and Ben fan into an inferno, Ben doesn’t know how much longer the layers of resistance around his heart can resist melting into the gooey mess he fears. The more he fights it the harder it is to make the choice that will destroy the family he now longs to claim.

I live in the Coolest Little Capital in the World (a.k.a Wellington, New Zealand) where I've yet to be buried under my to-be-read book pile by our infamous wind--my Kindle's a lifesaver! Married to a wonderfully supportive IT guy (who doesn't mind cooking dinner while his wife mutters to herself and hammers away at the keyboard), we have two teens who would love to be surgically linked to their electronic devices.

As a teenager I devoured novel after novel in my maths class, which explains why I still don't understand using the alphabet in equations. I discovered a stack of tattered paperbacks hidden in my mother's wardrobe featuring scantily clad women wrapped around bare-chested hunks. Who needs a pimply-faced teenage boyfriend when you can have book boyfriends, right? So as a child I got my first taste of Happily Ever After in fairy-tales, but after reading romance--I was hooked.

Fueled by copious amounts of coffee, I'm now the author of contemporary romantic fiction set predominantly in New Zealand. Small-towns, close communities, and families are a big part of the heart-warming stories I love to write. Oh, and hot, down-to-earth heroes--real Kiwi men, in other words.

When I'm not writing, thinking about writing, or procrastinating about writing, I can be found reading sexy books of all romance genres and nibbling on smuggled chocolate bars. What? You were expecting me to say free-dive training, hiking the world-famous Rakiura track on Stewart Island, and restoring classic cars? Nope, sorry. I'll leave such excitement to my characters as they explore their worlds and find the love of their lives.

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