One More Valentine by Anne Stuart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reread on Kindle Text to Speech completed in the month of August, 2014
Anne Stuart has taken the events of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and created a "What If?" scenario that turns out to be a very satisfying romance.
James Rafferty and six of his friends were murdered in the infamous massacre, but they didn't stay gone. Every year, they came back for 48 hours between February 13 and February 15th. And the lucky ones, if they fall in love with a woman, they are able to stay and lead a normal life.
James has been doing this for sixty years. He has given up on the the idea that he can find a woman who will love him. Instead, he merely enjoys his 48hrs of existence, before next year comes after again.
This time, he has to help an old friend out of a fix, and meets Helen Emerson, not his 'type of girl' at all. But is she the woman who will finally end his limbo?
Only Ms. Stuart could take a dodgy concept like this and make me eat it up like dessert. I think a lot of that hinges on the incredible chemistry she creates between Jamey and Helen. Not to mention that Jamey is the kind of bad boy that you can't help loving, even when your rational brain tells you he's a bad bet. He's just all kinds of charismatic. Helen is very likable, a woman who holds her own against a compelling man like Jamey, without compromising who she is. I liked that she was still a virgin at the age of 29. Her experience is somewhat opposite Jamey's, coming up in a cop family and he was on the wrong side of the law.
Billy is a sweetheart. Not what you'd expect for a gangster, but that was the point of this story. Maybe those guys weren't all as bad as we think, considering they were gangsters and were part of a gangland war that tore the city of Chicago apart. Maybe some of them were family men trying to do the best they could for their situation during a tough time.
I actually liked the idea of these guys getting a 'second chance' until they made it right. I'll always be romantic enough to believe that love conquers all. In fiction, there is no getting over exploring that concept for me. In fact I seek out books where love does win out against incredible obstacles.
Another thing I love about this book is the setting of Chicago. I grew up a half hour from this great city of the Midwest, and it still holds a charm for me. Since I don't get to go back often, it's always a treat and a welcome experience to visit in the fiction I read.
As much as I admire all her work, I really do miss Ms. Stuart's contemporary romances she wrote for Harlequin. At least I can revisit those in rereads.
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