“I lost all those years, only to end up in the same place, wanting you and wishing I hadn’t ever let you go.”
I absolutely loved this angsty second chance romance! I devoured it in one sitting and connected so strongly to the story which was about a sexy single dad reunited with the only woman who he’d ever truly loved when his son got enrolled in her elementary school class and he realized this was his only chance to show her how much he used to love her, how deeply he still loved her, and how strongly he was willing to fight to win back her heart. OH MY GOSH, there were SO MANY FEELS!!!! My heart honestly never stopped racing. I felt their PAIN, DESIRE, LONGING, and NEED for each other in a way that just made my chest ache. I cried, I laughed, I swooned, but more than anything, I genuinely FELT this story. It was perfectly paced and so well written! SEXY, ROMANTIC, ANGSTY PERFECTION!!
He was the perfect physical male specimen.
At the private school where I taught, Mack Morrison was the only man around in a sea of women.
Everyone wanted a piece of the hot single father of the sweet little boy.
I was riddled with jealousy, because they didn’t know that—to me—he was much more.
They didn’t know about our past.
He’d chosen my school for his son on purpose, because Mack and I, we had unfinished business.
As my friend, Lorelai, so eloquently put it: “Unfinished business between two people who are clearly attracted to each other is like an eternal case of blue balls.” And I was suffering in pain from my case.
I was still intensely attracted to Mack. I tried to resist him, immersing myself further into a relationship with another man just to protect my heart.
Not to mention, getting involved with a parent was strictly against school rules. But seeing Mack day in and day out was breaking me down.
And soon I might be breaking all the rules.
From the first time that Mack and Frankie met (again) in his son’s school, my heart was fluttering. It was painfully clear that they had a deep history between them and I couldn’t wait to find out what exactly it entailed.
His tone was demanding. “Look at me, Frankie.” When I didn’t listen, he repeated, “Look at me.”
I lifted my head. To look him in the face was truly painful, triggering an onslaught of memories I preferred to keep at bay. One thing was for certain: the grown man standing before me was far more confident than the guy whom I’d last seen with tears in his eyes.
“I don’t understand. How is this possible? What are you doing here at my school?”
He slowly approached me, causing my skin to heat. “We live here now — in Massachusetts.”
My eyes returned to meet his when I asked, “How did your son end up in my class?”
“If I told you it was a coincidence, would you believe me?”
“Well, it’s not,” he was quick to admit.
“Why? Why are you doing this? Why didn’t you warn me?”
“Would it have made it any easier?”
“No,” I whispered.
“You’re the only one I trust with him… I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, in general. I know it may seem like eons ago that we were close, and I know you’re confused right now. I know I fucked everything up between us, but I’ve never forgotten you. Not a single day.”
Told in first person alternating POVs, we find out more pieces of their past with each new development in the story. I felt so strongly for both of them. Even though Mack was the one who had left her in the past, he was so broken up over it that there was no doubt that some outside influence had forced his hand and even though it had shattered her heart, it had also left him deeply damaged. The only question was whether there was a chance in hell that she’d allow him to show her the changed man he’d become over the years and how much he still loved her.
Her being so formal with me was weird. It was irking me a little. She was acting like we didn’t know everything there was to know about each other at one time. I just wanted to virtually shake her and say, ‘Hey, remember that time we got drunk and you begged me to fuck you?’
I’ve said this in other reviews, but there’s just a certain ‘spark’ that separates my favorite books from all the others I read. I don’t know how else to explain it and I think that ultimately every reader experiences that spark differently and for different books, but for me this book had exactly the spark that I was searching for. Everything about the story just really worked for me.
And seriously, single dad’s who are devoted to their kids are just freaking HOT!!!
“He’ll be okay. We’ll take care of him. Even when he’s having a bad day, we’ll do our best to make him feel safe.”
“Thank you, Frankie. I knew you would. That’s why I’m here.”
And for me.
I’m here for you.
I want you in my life again.
Even if all you’ll give me is your friendship.
Fuck that. That will never be enough for me.
Not with you.
There was so much I wanted to tell her but couldn’t.
One of my favorite things about this book was that their relationship didn’t start with lust. Without spoiling anything, I can say that it’s like they fell in love without even knowing it. Or rather, they each fell in love with who the other person was before anything seriously physical grew between them. It’s like they were drawn to each other — simply as people — long before they each realized that they’d fallen in love with each other without even being in a romantic relationship. I loved the progression of their story! It made my heart twist and turn in the best ways!
“What exactly do you plan to try?”
… “I have to go wherever [my son] is. So, this is a window of opportunity that I can’t waste. You asked what I plan to try? Everything. Every goddamn thing, Frankie — until you tell me to stop. Until you look me in the eyes and tell me there’s no point in continuing.”
Over the last several years, I’ve read a lot of second romances. They’re one of my favorite types of love stories to read but admittedly, most of them have a similar formula. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the formula. When a second chance romance is well written, I don’t even care if I’ve read a similar story before, I fall in love with the heartbreak and healing all over again. However, it is really special when you find one — like this book — that does things a little bit differently and puts its own twist on the storytelling.
I absolutely loved the way Mack and Frankie kept being pulled back together. I felt that pull — their longing, desire, pain, and love. It was true love, not just lust. Even though there was undoubted attraction between them, what they had went much deeper than that and I think that’s why I felt so strongly for their story. Seriously, I just connected with them — I was right there with what they were going through. I was even brought to tears a few times and you all know I adore books that can make me cry.
“We all have that one person. It’s not necessarily someone we end up with. But it’s that person who, for whatever reason, gets under your skin and stays there. You can move on, but parts of them are always with you. Sometimes, if things never had a chance to develop, if feelings are still unresolved, that person becomes an even more powerful force in your life, even in absentia.”
This story is romantic, a little tragic, intensely angsty, and yet so beautifully healing. And I have to say I was incredibly proud of the way Mack and Frankie handled the twists life threw at them — especially the second time around when they had a chance to salvage everything they’d lost so many years ago.
“I never stopped thinking about you. All of these years, they feel like a blur. I look at you sitting in front of me right now, and I’m feeling all of the same things I did when we were together.”
Now, I’m going to be honest with you. This book was borderline ‘rule-breaking’ for me in a few ways. But Penelope Ward is one of the few authors who I’ve come to trust with this kind of angst. This has happened a few times with books of hers that I’ve read — she pushes right to the very line of what I’m comfortable with but doesn’t cross it. And, as a reader, that is just so special to find. She’s an author whose books I will blindly purchase whenever she releases new ones because I genuinely not only love the stories she tells, but I love the way she tells them. I love that she’ll push me as a reader to the edge of my comfort zone, but never take me outside it. She writes the kind of angst I love — it’s painful, intense, and it’ll twist you up inside, but you’ll love the characters, you’ll hurt for them because you care so much, you’ll feel their longing and desire, and ultimately you can trust the author to take their story to the right place. It’s a really wonderful trust to have in an author and I eager look forward to each of her new books for this very reason.
Also, random confession, I had just come back from watching Fifty Shades Darker when I read this and I literally listened to The Scientist by Corinne Bailey Rae on repeat while I was reading it. Something about the mood of that song perfectly captured the emotions I was feeling while I read. By the end of the book, I had listened to it 48 times!
Oh and actually a second confession… I actually disliked the title of this book when I first heard it. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely wanted to read this book no matter what — but that was because of who wrote it. However, by the end of the book, I totally loved the title and even cried over it, so kudos to the author in that regard!
A few people have asked me if there’s a love triangle in this book and so, without giving away too much, I’ll just say that it’s not in the way you’re probably thinking. I hate triangles but I loved this book. The author writes it in such a way where it’s crystal clear that the hero and heroine only ever love each other. And there is no cheating. There are pretty serious extenuating circumstances affecting their lives and relationship which I don’t want to spoil but bottom line, I’d say just trust this author and dive right in!
“Your happiness is all that matters. You’re holding all the cards, Frankie — every single, last one of them. But just be aware that I have no issue with showing you exactly how much I want you right now.” He moved in closer, to the point where I could feel the heat from his body.“ The next time you ask me to kiss you, I’m going to fucking kiss you… I’m not gonna lie to you about my feelings. I’m not going to hide the fact that I want to make love to you more than anything.”
This is my favorite Penelope Ward book to date! And that’s saying a lot considering that her last several books have all been on my top favorites lists. But this one just really hit home for me — I loved the emotions, the angst, the romance, and I couldn’t put it down. If you’re looking for a well-written, addictive second chance love story and you’re a fan of single dad heroes, then you absolutely have to read this book!!!
Rating: 4.5 + STARS!! Standalone Adult Romance.