~ People come into your life for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime ~
Questioning her relationship with a man who worships politics more than her, Shayla Clemmins escapes reality for the seductive sunsets of Greece. There she finds exactly what she didn’t know was missing from her life, but fears she’ll lose him to her past.
John Mathews works hard and plays even harder. When he finds a new passion in the sensual warmth of Greece, he discovers that one lust-filled weekend of romance is just not enough.
With Shayla’s past catching up to her and an anonymous threat to her future, can she and John make a lifetime together?
True Love doesn't always come the way we want it to. As the saying goes, sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince, and for Shayla Clemmins, she's not quite certain she's found him. Neck deep in a one sided relationship with the politically elite Mathew 'Mat' Huntston, she finds herself playing second fiddle to the schmoozing and networking that being the son of a hard nosed senator demands.
When a 'Hail Mary' proposal goes awry, Shayla takes the opportunity to flee Malibu, swapping those white beaches for those of the Greek Islands, where her beloved uncle (and employer) Tom is about to marry his new love, devoted mother Tess. Ring firmly planted on the right hand while she considers her options, she immediately clashes with Tess' adult son John, who with his two younger sisters, hitch a plane ride with her to the European nation with his stubborn attitude and flirtatious charm in tow.
The two hit it off straight away, trading barbs as often as longing glances, each exciting a freedom and daring inside the other. She decides to take the opportunity the weekend provides, allowing herself to fall into bed with John, and explore a new side of herself that the space from her obligations allows. The appearance of a strange photographer pushes her into an ultimatum, where upon her return States-side from the island paradise, decisions are made, revelations told, holidays enjoyed and happiness found.
Admittedly, I have struggled hard with Shayla's Story - while a well written tale neatly rolled out for the reader, there are several major flaws in pacing and character that have made me unable to engage with the novel as fully as I would have liked.
The biggest issue I have with this is that the characters, while interesting enough, are rather flat; each conforming nicely into the preconceived boxes given to them and seem incapable of surprise or interest outside of that. Conversely, there are several moments where, through plot, huge revelations are made which make absolutely no sense. I'm especially talking about the matriachally devout, politically downtrodden Mat, whose final act conversation with Shayla is so absurdly out of left field that it begs disbelief, to point where it feels like an act of convenience rather than an earned writing or character decision. I'm not even going to mention anything about what befalls the two lovers towards the end of the novel…
Speaking of which, the pacing of their relationship also left a rather confused frown on my face. When they first meet, there is such an instant dislike that it feels like cheating when, after about five minutes, they stop being mad at each other. All too swiftly, John barrels through all of Shayla's objections (and fidelity) with a few well positioned kisses and seductive words and BAM! They proceed to get down and dirty for the rest of their Grecian weekender, to the disregard of family, propriety and their public location! It was astounding to me, that something that was a major contributor to my confusion could have been solved with just a bit more plotting, and a little less action, but was instead left to instant gratification to the sacrifice of dimensional character and story.
There are some highlights - the characters of John's sisters, JC and Tracey, though while bit parts, are delightfully entertaining. Beloved Uncle Tom, the hunky older actor, is a voice of reason and wisdom to the beleaguered Shayla, and in the end, it all wraps up without too much muss or fuss.
Ultimately, Ms Preston has delivered a fair enough sequel to her first Mathews Family instalment, one which I'm sure the fans of her work with enjoy. Unfortunately, with my startling non-reaction to this book (I promise you, I really wanted to like it), it will be too easily cast aside for me.