THE ONE REAL THING Samantha Young
The Hart's Boardwalk Book 1
Berkley
ISBN: 978-1-101-99167-1
September 2016
Contemporary Romance

Delaware The Present

Jessica Huntington is a doctor serving her patients at the Women's Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility in Wilmington. She has a no-commitment friends-with-benefits relationship with another doctor. One of the women guards shows Jessica a vintage copy of Pride and Prejudice from the prison library. It has been carved out to hide contraband. After the guard leaves, Jessica finds more hidden in the binding, letters from an inmate, Sarah Randal, addressed to George Beckwith in Hartwell. The letters are dated 1976, the year Sarah died. Reluctantly but with great curiosity, Jessica reads the letters. They are to the man Sarah loved and betrayed, explaining why she betrayed him. When her own vacation plans with her best friend, Matt, his wife, and their child fall through, Jessica decides to hand deliver the letters. Hartwell is a small community with a boardwalk on the ocean front that is a tourist spot. Once ensconced in a hotel on Hart's Boardwalk, Jessica discovers George is visiting family in Canada, but she meets people who affect her in a personal way.

Cooper Larson owns Cooper's Bar on Hart's Boardwalk. He is recovering from a devastating divorce from his cheating wife, which also ended his bond with his best friend Jack. He isn't sure he wants love, but Jessica attracts him, even making his neck tingle, which always happens before either extremely good or bad situations. In the meantime the town's rich ne'er-do-well business man, Ian Devlin, wants to buy Cooper's bar. Devlin sends his son Jack to make an offer.

Jessica is a haunted character who lost her younger sister to suicide and ever since has lived a life barren of love and family, partially from choice. She has major trust issues, as does Cooper, but their romance moves fast and hot until Jessica is blackmailed into an untenable situation. While she waits for George Beckwith to arrive in Hartwell, she is faced with, for her, an agonizing choice. In THE ONE REAL THING, both Jessica and Cooper face serious self-introspection, but their situations are credible, and they are interesting characters. As this is a location romance, the reader will be introduced to many characters on Hart's Boardwalk who seem to demand their own story. THE ONE REAL THING was a great start.

Robin Lee