TEN GOOD REASONS - Lauren Christopher
A Sandy Cove Romance
ISBN: 978-0-425-27449-1
Berkeley Sensation
April 2015
Contemporary Romance

Sandy Cove, California – Present Day

At twenty nine, Lia McCabe knows she is on the verge of a major employment breakthrough—after three years of being a workaholic glorified administrative assistant for one of the best ad agencies in Southern California, her big break is about to happen if she can only pull off the whale watching tour of the century. She has managed to convince her boss to book a whale watching tour for a client on one of Lia's best friends' boat. Her friend, Drew, has been “on board” with the whole idea- and all is going perfectly until Drew is involved in a motorcycle accident and can no longer pilot the boat for at least one week.  This could mean a disaster for Drew, who needs the income and for Lia, who needs the promotion. In short, Lia needs to find herself another captain, and fast, if she wants to help Drew, keep her boss and client happy and move to Paris with her promotion. But of course, finding a captain proves to be infinitely more difficult than she anticipates, and she is running out of time. In desperation, Lia approaches Evan Betancourt, Drew's brother, who has just sailed into Sandy Cove. Drew had been adamant when he warned her not to approach Evan, calling him a wild card and “messed up”. Ever the optimist, she cannot believe that Evan won't help out, despite Drew's warning that he barely speaks and stays on his boat, sailing wherever the wind takes him.

The first meeting between the two is an unmitigated disaster. Evan has his boat in a guest slip and as she walk on the boat and meets Evan, she feels…nervous, which is unlike her, since her friendly smile and happy attitude usually charms everyone, including men. Not so with Evan. He is surly (although darkly good looking) and short on words, which means he wouldn't impress the paying guests on the boat. Still, Lia is not prepared for Evan's flat out refusal, but realizes the next morning that she has to try again, since it looks like Drew is going to be off the boat for several days. Lia approaches Evan again, and gets an even worse reception, if that's possible. What is wrong with Evan? She doesn't know his past, although Drew alludes to tragedy in his life, but Lia cannot figure him out.

And…that's how TEN GOOD REASONS begins. At first, I thought there wasn't going to be much substance to this second installment of the Sandy Cove series, but by page 30, I was hooked. Lauren Christopher does an excellent job of developing her characters, particularly Lia, who is not your average heroine. She is pushy, a workaholic bordering on a Type A personality, too optimistic and positive and a bit annoying at first, but she grew quickly on me and I liked her. Evan is a very troubled man, with huge guilt issues and anger galore, but he doesn't change overnight, and I liked how Lia is able to chip away at some of his bitterness. The story flows well because of the care the author takes with the development of all the characters, primarily through the dialogue, including the secondary characters like Drew and the shipmates. There is not much action per se, but on the other hand, it is not just a beach romance; there is genuine interpersonal conflict between the characters which is well addressed and realistic.

TEN GOOD REASONS is a heartfelt romance, with some excellent characters and a wonderful setting. There is plenty of steaminess, but not too much, and the issues are handled intelligently and with very satisfactory results. The theme of opposites attracting actually works in this story and I truly enjoyed it.

Astrid Kinn