The Summer He Came Home
By Juliana Stone
Book #1 in the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series
Sometimes the best place to find love is right back where you started... Falling asleep in a different bed every night has made it easy for Cain Black to forget his past. It's been ten years since he packed his guitar and left Crystal Lake to chase his dreams. Now tragedy has forced him home again. And though Cain relishes the freedom of the road, one stolen moment with Maggie O'Rourke makes him wonder if he's missing out on something bigger than fame.
For Maggie--single mother and newly settled in Crystal Lake--love is a luxury she just can't afford. Sure, she appreciates the tall, dark and handsome looks of prodigal son Cain Black. But how long can she expect the notorious hellion to stay? The last thing either of them wants is something complicated. But sometimes love has its own plans.
I came ever so close to not downloading this book and am I ever grateful that I gave it a second shot. It wasn’t another story about a wild-child-turned-rocker who comes home to prove to the hometown crowd he could be somebody (what I thought it would be). Instead, it was a tender, loving story about a guy, Cain Black, who had a bit of bad boy in him, was incredibly talented as a teen-ager and everyone knew it and returns home when one of his best friends from that time was killed in action in Afghanistan. The group that was affectionately called the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake get to reunite for the first time since high school but sadly with one missing.
Maggie is one of the first people Cain sees when he gets back for the funeral reception and it’s all sparks and sizzle from thereon out. She’s pretty reluctant to let him into her life, not only because he’s a rock star and all that implies, but she’s got a 7-year old son and a secret past that could threaten her safety and security. The red-haired Maggie is no push over and makes him work for her, not too much, just the right tempo. It’s a contemporary romance but with a slight bit of suspense and intrigue thrown in to make it just a little spicier.
What works about this story? The hometown embraces Cain and his friends and we learn a lot from their recollections. The friendship and closeness of the Bad Boys is fun and entertaining. Cain has all of the things we love about musicians…oozing charisma, a strong presence and the ability to touch you emotionally with melody and lyrics. Even though I couldn’t really hear them, he struck some really nice chords:) Cain’s relationship with Maggie and her son Michael is just well done. No shortcuts are taken here and they tackle substantive and realistic issues.
This isn’t a fluff piece with stereotyped angles. It’s a well-written story with characters you care about, like and lust over (Cain is simply delicious). Cain’s friends, Jake and Mac, give us a clue about their future stories and I know enough now to definitely commit to reading them as soon as they’re available. Put this on your shelf and read it.
(I received an ARC from NetGalley)