In this seventh novel featuring the Bennett clan, single brother Blake romances a family friend.
When the construction on Clara Abernathy’s new apartment takes longer than expected, Blake offers the empty unit above his bar as a stopgap. The catch? It happens to be just across from his. It’s a recipe for romance gold, and neighbors quickly become neighbors with benefits. The dynamics of their courtship are not a departure from the norm for Hagen (Your Alluring Love, 2017, etc.). Blake and Clara are attracted to each other from Page 1, but she has reservations. There’s the potential of ruining her friendships with Blake and the rest of the Bennett clan. There are differing relationship goals: as an orphan who grew up in group homes, Clara dreams of having a husband and kids, while Blake admits that “starting a family right now is the last thing I’d want.” Last, Clara’s smarmy boss has pressured her to dig up gossip on the Bennetts so he can leverage it into better ratings for their TV show, meaning any relationship with Blake would have to be kept under wraps. Blake vows to woo her regardless, and after a series of thoughtful housewarming gifts, lingering touches, and sexy innuendos, he makes good on that promise. Given that Clara’s primary characteristic is her desire for a family, this installment involves several Bennett events. Between Alice’s wedding, drinks with Blake’s sisters, a weekend ranch retreat, and a Bennett Enterprises fashion show, there are plenty of opportunities to reconnect with characters from the previous novels in the series. (But for new readers, it will likely be tedious to remember which spouse and which children belong to whom.) The all-is-perhaps-lost moment toward the story’s end is fairly believable. Blake finds out that Clara has been keeping a life-changing secret and reacts somewhat negatively, and she copes with the possibility that it may be a deal breaker. Other than that, the tale is lighthearted, easy reading. For those looking for a traditional romance with a heavy dose of erotic scenes, this should hit the mark.
A sexy and fun love story, though somewhat formulaic.