Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: Two of Hearts by Christina Lee

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: NAL Trade
304 Pages

A gripping standalone adult contemporary romance about finding yourself while taking a second chance at your first love…

Dakota Nakos was always the resilient, strong-willed achiever. But when her father dies and she’s entrusted with the family’s casino, she feels vulnerable, scared, and more than a little emotional —not exactly the best time to see an old lover she’s never really gotten over.

Dakota once meant the world to Shane Garrity. Then suddenly he left town to train as a U.S. Marshal, and their love for each other crashed into a memory. Now he’s come home for her father’s funeral, and one look at the girl he left behind stirs up both memories and regrets, and reignites a fire he feared he’d lost forever.

Dakota may be the same driven girl she always was, but she’s also changed in ways neither could have anticipated. She’s not just a young woman searching for own identity in the Native American community in which she was raised, but one questioning her new life outside her father’s shadow. Above all she wonders if Shane can push past her weakened defenses to rekindle what they once had, or whether the intense blaze between them will ultimately reduce her heart to ashes.

It's interesting to me that this is considered a standalone book when we've met these characters (and others) in another series of Lee's. I'm assuming it's because of the jump from New Adult to Adult? Anyway...

After the death of her father, Dakota Nakos finds herself running the casino he left behind. As if dealing with this loss wasn't enough, now it seems like the Native American community Dakota was raised in doesn't want her or her mother there anymore. Add that to her ex showing up, and Dakota is just thrown out of sorts. She feels like she's drowning and it's looking like the only way out is the boy from her past and she's not quite sure that's a road she wants to go down again.

When Shane finds out about Mr. Nakos death, he stops at nothing to get home. Not only was Mr. Nakos father to his best friend and the girl he loved, but Mr. Nakos was also like a father to Shane. Upon his arrival, he instantly notices that somethings not right. Tensions are high, but no one is talking. Shane decides he's sticking around to find out what's going on - and to finally figure out what's between him and Dakota.

I really like Lee's writing. She's an author that I warmed up to, having not been to impressed with the first book I read from her. In Two of Hearts, Lee ups the game by jumping into adult with these characters and also throws in a little mystery: who killed Mr. Nakos and why? The setting was also one I hadn't read before. Set on an Indian reservation in the Midwest, I enjoyed how this book placed emphasis on the importance of culture and family.

The chemistry between Dakota and Shane was clearly visible. The two share a past - his best friend is her older brother, not too mention the almost relationship they had. Their past actually lends itself to moving the plot forward instead of getting us stuck there. It's because Shane knew Dakota so well that he was able to anticipate her reactions and also investigate the murder of her father more indepthly. However, despite their obvious chemistry, there was a giant game of push and pull happening. Shane knew what he wanted and was going after it. Dakota had no clue what she wanted and even after she figured it out, still pulled away. She was very up and down with Shane, but it was believable given what her family was going through and the stress of owning a casino. I enjoyed both the drama and the romance of this book.

In my mind, this will always be grouped in with the Between Breaths series. I can't help it. My mind just associates it with that set. That's not a bad thing, though, as I thoroughly enjoyed that series.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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