Tragedies old and new threaten to keep a young couple apart in this series romance.
When Claudia Chiametti returns home to Long Island after graduating from the University of Southern California, her next steps are clear: She aims to get a job at a senior care center and a master’s degree in gerontology. But her ex-boyfriend, construction worker Toby Faye, throws a wrench in her plans. The bad boy with a heart of gold hopes to rekindle their old romance, but Claudia wants to make sure he’s committed before inviting him back into her life. Toby is grateful for the second chance and dedicates himself to “keeping her no matter what it took.” Soon, their relationship sparks anew despite the objections of Claudia’s stern, conservative father. But the idyll doesn’t last, and when Claudia’s father has a health emergency, it triggers a crisis for Claudia and Toby’s relationship. Toby’s troubled past and dysfunctional family history put his future with Claudia in jeopardy, and her worries about Toby’s reputation as a local playboy cause even more problems. This second volume in Link’s (Saving Toby, 2014) series continues the story of the fiery main characters. There’s no lack of chemistry between the two, particularly in the book’s steamiest scenes. However, it’s the evolution of their relationship that forms the heart of this installment. Toby’s fears that he’ll repeat the mistakes of his abusive, alcoholic father feel authentic, and by novel’s end, he emerges as a man with a better understanding of himself. Claudia’s journey is less compelling; at times, she’s feels like a bit of a goody-goody, and her childish jealousy over Toby’s past relationships grows tiresome. That said, the men in her life do have a troubling tendency to infantilize her. Still, after a dramatic set piece on Fire Island during a raging storm, both main characters are shown to have grown up a bit. The happy ending feels inevitable but not undeserved.
A sweet, lively, and relatable romance about growing into a grown-up relationship.