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Monday, March 31, 2008

Review: Ready to Reel




Ready to Reel by Lainey Bancroft

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Dandelion

When Suzette Michaud reels into the arms of a man she wouldn’t ordinarily look twice at, she reexamines her priorities. Fed up with the social limitations her parents and her French boarding school background impressed upon her, she decides it’s time to take a walk on the wild side. Handlebar Hank and his Honky Tonk are just the distraction she needs.

She doesn’t count on falling in love with the rough around the edges man, especially when he insists on treating her—a forty-six year old divorcee—like some blushing virgin. And she certainly doesn’t suspect that his big body, heart and sense of humor hide a bigger hurt than she ever could have imagined. Can a wounded bar owner and a bitter French debutante/divorcee make each other feel whole again, or are they just reeling into more heartbreak?

This sweet short story won my heart! Suzette and Hank are a charming, if unlikely couple. At first, her conservative, uptight personality seems to have nothing in common with his country music lovin’, bachelor-bartender lifestyle. But once they hit the dance floor, sparks fly. I thought the development of their attraction was completely believable, and I especially liked the fact that this hero and heroine aren’t starry-eyed lovers, but middle-aged singles trying to negotiate the world of dating while balancing their private baggage.

This baggage, of course, is what keeps Hank from giving his heart to Suzette, and be prepared: his secrets are pretty deep. But the final scene of the story, when all is revealed, is heart-warming and satisfying. It’s refreshing to read about two characters who are realistic and honest about what they can and cannot give one another.

I enjoyed all the minor characters in this story as well: Alexandra and Riana, Suzette’s best friends since high school, and Matt, Alex’s fiancĂ© and second chance at love. And Hank’s tacky roadside bar, Handlebar Hank’s Honky Tonk, is a place where you’ll feel you’d like to pull up a saddle stool to the horseshoe-shaped bar and stay awhile.

“Ready to Reel” is a charming story, and I only wish it had been longer. I’d like to know what Ms. Bancroft has in store for these characters next!