A Solitary Heart by Amanda Carpenter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a bit of a slow read, but I gave it four stars because I liked the emotional intensity of the storyline. Initially, I got the impression that Matt was going to be one of the super jerky heroes, the way he goes up to Sian at the party and emphatically warns her off of his brother, Jordan. However, after Sian sets him straight, beautifully, I might add, it's clear that he's not that way at all. From thence it becomes a hero in pursuit story with a hero that was so romantic he made me sigh. I read his declaration about marriage and my toes tingled, and I thought, "Wow! That's the kind of husband a woman wants." Yeah, people might turn their noses up at romance, but those moments make it clear why romance novels are a billion dollar industry in itself.
One thing I also liked about this story was how textured Sian was as a heroine. She wasn't falsely perfect, nor was she catty and frustrating. Instead she was a realistic young woman who had very understandable fears about giving her heart away. She had a composure that I really admired. She was loving, and playful, but she didn't take crap off anyone. Considering her upbringing, and her belief about how unimportant she was to her father, a world class gambler who never stayed in one place very long, and who continually let her down by backing out of his commitments with her, I could totally respect why she wanted a stable, comfortable marriage, instead of an emotional rollercoaster union. Matt scared her deep inside because she instinctively knew he wouldn't be the kind of guy to settle for just part of her--he would want all of her.
I have to say that I loved that this book was set in Chicago. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and Chi-Town will always have a place in my heart. I was really excited when they went to Indiana Dunes, which is a place I've visited myself. Although I love Harlequin Presents for their exotic locations, it was very nice to read one set in places I am familiar with, and with American characters with their uniquely American ways.
As far as the chemistry between Sian and Matt, it was volcanic. This is one of those stories where we don't see a physical consummation, but there are some pretty fiery kisses and caressing scenes where I didn't miss the 'real deal'. Ms. Carpenter definitely does a great job showing the attraction between her characters.
I liked various scenes in this story, such as the one in which Sian saves the little boy from the tree, and Matt saves her (I could see how much Matt cared for her very clearly and also what a good person Sian is). I thought the reveal on Sian's father was well-handled too. Quite a unique sort of dynamic there with her dad's real reasons for not being around much. And the ending was very good too. More sighworthy moments.
So, even though there was some parts that read slow, this was a steady, fulfilling read. That's four stars from me.
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