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Feature book: Their Second-Time Valentine

31 March 2021

Their Second-Time Valentine by Helen Lacey

Series: The Fortunes of Texas: The Hotel Fortune #2
Subgenre: contemporary romance
Release date: 1 Feb 2021
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Format: ebook and print
Length: 195 pages
RRP: $5.99 (ebook); $16.99 (print DUO)

I have to confess, straight up, that the books written about The Fortunes of Texas are many. *Very* many! If you look them up on Fantastic Fiction, the listing goes on for quite some time, in quite a lot of different story lines. Fantastic! That means there’s heaps of fans out there tracking those Fortunes like they were family, which is rather heart-warming.

However, for newbie me to plunge in at the deep end, not having read many of them, it was a bit tricky at first. I thought I’d get away with not reading the first book in this particular series, (Her Texas New Year’s Wish by Michelle Major, which incidentally looks amazing). I was all, wait, what? Who are these people? Maybe I should back track? Maybe I should read some of the other Fortunes?

But by that stage I was already ‘in’ and didn’t want to stop. Because, you know, I was in the hands of Helen Lacey. She’s done this Fortunes gig before and she knows her stuff! She is the Queen of writing in a series (e.g. The Culhanes of Cedar Creek that I reviewed for you last year). You can trust her to get you through.

After a couple of chapters where really, all I needed was a coffee and Helen to sort me out, we got down to business. And it’s a rather lovely business, because this book comes from the Harlequin Special Edition line (although this one is marketed under Western Romance in Australia). The motto on Helen Lacey’s website from Harlequin SE reads: ‘Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.’

So, ‘believe in love’? Layla McCarthy does. She’d been searching for love all her life after her indifferent father walked out, and her own mother was forever flitting around also looking for love and happiness. Layla thought she did find it in Frank, a sturdy, dependable man who was absolutely rock-solid, easy going and delighted to marry her; absolutely thrilled when their little daughter Erin was born. Suddenly, in a terrible accident, Layla was widowed. All that security and happiness was tragically dashed away in seconds.

With the help of her undoubtedly wonderful grandparents, her good employers (some of those Fortunes) and acquaintances (ditto, more Fortunes), Layla’s slowly gaining her equilibrium. But now she can’t rely on anyone but herself. She doesn’t want to fall in love—again—and lose that love—again. She also won’t let her little daughter fall in love with a father figure, only to have him walk away if something goes wrong and give her daughter an even bigger sense of loss.

Poor Layla. The past weighs very heavily on her. She’s grieving and lonely, yet determined to forge her own path. She will never rely on a man again; never love a man again.

Kane Fortune, on the other hand, doesn’t really believe in love. He believes in attraction and loves the idea of a good relationship, but it’s never really come his way. He’s also guarding a big secret that’s led to a lot of grief for him over the years. His family knows—and now I know—but it’s a game changer for some people he’s known. (And you will think less of them.)

Kane meets Layla when she’s picking her daughter up from day care, and he’s picking up his nephew. It’s a cute, breathless meeting, like he’s hit in the head with Cupid’s arrow as soon as he sees her. Suddenly the man who doesn’t really believe in love is—wow! I think I’m in love!

‘Overcome obstacles’. Here we have the whole Love thing going awry. Love-shy Layla wants a s.l.o.w. relationship, and Kane’s already thinking marriage (a huge wow for him), more babies, home, hearth and the whole shebang for ever and ever.

These two do a fraught dance around each other, pushing, retreating, falling in love, retreating, declaring, getting closer again, retreating. Such an emotional read!

‘Find happiness’? It seems as though sometimes Layla and Kane might miss this mark, which would be terrible. They’re absolutely made for each other. Kane and Layla’s friends and family are well able to see how fabulous they are together.

It’s quite something to get to the end here, but I can guarantee you and every Fortune fan around will be cheering them over the finish line. Thank you, Helen Lacey, you made it worthwhile. A wonderful couple indeed.

reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

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