Ever After by Jude Deveraux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hallie discovered quite by accident that she had inherited a house from a man she had never met. If she hadn't returned without warning to her house that afternoon, looking for a missing envelope of important documents, she never would have walked in on her stepsister impersonating her and signing papers to take possession of Hallie's unexpected inheritance. While it wasn't especially shocking to learn her stepsister had deceived the executor of the will and was attempting to defraud her, it most certainly was shocking to discover she now owned a house on the island of Nantucket, and it was even more shocking to find out that she had a private physical therapy client waiting for her in said house. Most shocking of all was the revelation that her newly acquired home came with two ghosts: the Tea Ladies, who died a couple of centuries ago and yet never stopped fixing their famously elaborate teas.
The sisters' matchmaking talents are legends among the islanders, and soon Hallie finds herself locked into and out of rooms, drenched by thunderstorms so local the neighbors aren't aware they occurred, supplied with endless quantities of fabulous sandwiches and cakes, and falling for her gorgeous patient with the huge extended family.
Jamie Taggert isn't pleased with the way his identical twin got him to Hallie's house on Nantucket Island, but he acknowledges he needs physical therapy to rehabilitate his knee after a skiing accident, so he agrees to let Hallie treat his leg--and ONLY his leg. Unlike most men, who can't wait to disrobe, Jamie refuses to let anyone see his scarred body. He fears pity and goes out of his way to avoid it, usually by avoiding people altogether. His aversion to pity runs so deep, he lets Hallie believe he's just a rich playboy rather than admit he acquired most of his scars--both physical and mental--when his humvee exploded, killing his friends and nearly killing him as well.
Although the attraction between Jamie and Hallie is strong, painful secrets and ingrained beliefs threaten to separate the pair, and it takes some clever conniving on the part of the departed to teach them to have faith in the strength, reality, and longevity of their bond.
I love that Deveraux is now writing about the next generation of the Taggert/Montgomery family. Such a treat to get a glimpse into the happily ever after of some of my favorite characters of the past! I actually stayed up late two nights in a row, despite being seriously sleep-deprived, just because I couldn't stop reading.
Many thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher for letting me read an Advance Reader's Copy (ARC) of the third book in this series in exchange for my honest review. I can honestly say I absolutely loved it! It's truly delightful to read a romance novel written by an author who likes and appreciates men and depicts them pretty realistically.
For reader's advisors: story and character doorways are both pretty strong, as is setting (ghosts and the non-creepy haunted house). There is some sexual content, but not especially explicit, and there is a little bit of swearing.
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