A young widow juggling single motherhood and a small business faces her past and creates a new future when her ex-brother-in-law returns after a decade’s absence.
The second book in Rai’s (Hate to Want You, 2017) Forbidden Hearts series brings Jackson Kane back to the upstate New York town that turned on his family and accused him of arson. Traveling only with what he can stash on his motorcycle, Jackson has become a pop-up chef of international renown, but he can’t outrun the pull of his family or the strong feelings he has always had for his brother’s widow, Sadia Ahmed. Sadia, the product of a family of physicians, struggles to keep her late husband Paul’s cafe afloat while defending her choices to her disapproving but loving parents: “I’ve tried to be perfect. I’ve worked really hard at it, and never really quite succeeded…I never get to be…average old me.” She may never be able to forgive Jackson, her closest childhood friend, for staying away when she desperately needed support. When Jackson shows up at the bar where Sadia pulls extra shifts to support her young son, her anger and hurt are palpable. But she reluctantly accepts Jackson’s offer of help in the cafe while processing her anger and intense attraction to him. Jackson must come to terms with the role his own family played in the tragedy that unfolded years ago. An intensely introverted man who “never turned down a socially acceptable exit,” he must find the line between self-preservation and selfishness. He cannot appreciate Sadia’s pain until he allows himself to feel his own. A potentially awkward romance between former in-laws is handled with sensitivity, as Rai manages to weave Sadia’s marriage into the narrative of her relationship with Jackson in a way that detracts from neither.
Another emotional, passionate, and psychologically complex love story in a gripping series that follows the fates of two warring families.