That Thing Called Love by Susan Andersen (Razor Bay #1)

 

He’s the last man on earth she should want…

For a guy she’s fantasized about throttling, Jake Bradshaw sure is easy on the eyes. In fact, he seriously tempts inn manager Jenny Salazar to put her hands to better use. Except this is the guy who left Razor Bay—and his young son, Austin, who Jenny adores like her own—to become a globetrotting photojournalist. He can’t just waltz back and claim Austin now.

Jake was little more than a kid himself when he became a dad. Sure, he’d dreamed of escaping the resort town, but he’d also truly believed that Austin was better off with his grandparents. Now he wants—no, needs—to make up for his mistake. He intends to stay in Razor Bay only until he can convince Austin to return with him to New York. Trouble is, with sexy, protective, utterly irresistible Jenny in his life, and his bed, he may never want to leave…

“Shit.”  He looked at her more closely.  “You’re hammered.”

“I am,” she agreed and, smiling happily, scooted down to his end of the couch  She climbed onto her knees facing his right side.  “I’m feeling way better than I did when I got home.”  She angled a friendly arm across his chest, curling her fingers over his shoulder.  He was so warm and hard-bodied.  “Let’s get it on.”

“What? No!”  He lunged to the edge of the couch, knocking her loose.

Jake lost his wife when he was 18 years old and left his infant son, Austin, in the care of his Austin’s grandparents so he could get out of Razor Bay, which he’d been longing to do for as long as he can remember.  He didn’t intend to stay gone for thirteen years, but when Austin’s grandparents die within months of each other, leaving Austin in the care of his pseudo sister/aunt, Jenny, it’s clear to him that it’s time he finally return. 

He’s not exactly welcome with open arms, because Austin is just the right age for all that righteous indignation that teenagers are so good at.  Since Austin has two months left of school, Jake decides to hang around to get to know his son before he has to break the news to him that Jake is moving Austin to New York City.

Jenny and Jake are reluctantly attracted to one another, both understanding the limitations of any sort of relationship they would forge.  But then, this happens:

He wasn’t prepared for the jolt that a mere touch of the lips gave him and didn’t know whether pressing his to hers was the smartest thing he’d ever done–or a big mistake.  It felt contrarily like both.

What he did know was that he’d meant to keep it brief.  Well, probably, anyhow.

No.  He likely had.

Okay, the truth was, he didn’t know what the hell he’d intended–actual thought didn’t seem to be playing a major part in his actions.  Anything even resembling cognition had apparently drained frmo his generally facile brain and disappeared like water poured into the sand.  So although he felt Jenny’s start of surprise, the lion’s share of his attention was focused firmly on her lips.

Jake’s all kinds of messed up.  No, he’s not a drug addict or abusive, but his inability to fully care for someone stems from his father’s inability to stick with one family.  His father left his half-brother Max’s family to become part of Jake’s family, and then in turn did the same thing to Jake and his mother.  So Jake thinks that he’s like his father.  He thinks he cannot fully love.  Jake thinks he’s tragically flawed.  He believes that if his wife had lived, their marriage would have ended in divorce and, essentially, it would have been his fault.  He doesn’t want to be like his father, but he thinks it’s ingrained in him. 

Of course, when he starts to have feelings for both Austin and Jenny, he panics because of these issues and because, well, he’s a guy. 

Jenny is the daughter of a disgraced financier and a woman who gave up on life when her husband was found out to be a thief.  Jenny’s had to take care of herself (and her mother, for a while) since she was 16.  Austin’s grandparents hired her to work at their inn and she’s been there ever since and now runs it.  Jenny helped to raise Austin and is Austin’s guardian, until Jake shows up.

The story is kind of a slow build.  I was over a hundred pages into it and not a lot had happened.  We are introduced to Jake’s Sheriff’s Deputy half-brother Max, a kind of strong and silent type, and to Jenny’s best friend, Tasha, who runs the local pizza place.  Both characters are lots of fun and add tremendously to the story while helping us to understand our two main characters better.  I am very anxious about who the next books will be about.  I think Ms. Andersen’s already got Max a girl, but I am curious about who Tasha will be matched up with. (I am very frustrated, Ms. Andersen!  Only one book a year!  AHHH!  There’s no way to know when the next one will be out!  I’ve done some, admittedly limited, research into it and cannot be satisfied.    :: Sad face ::  I think I’m spoiled.)

One of my favorite aspects of the story is, along with Jenny & Jake’s POV, we get Austin’s every once in a while.  Austin’s a baseball player and he and Jake bond over that.  And we get to know Austin’s best friend, Nolan, and Nolan’s cousin, Bailey, who’s come to live with in Razor Bay because her mother is sick.  Bailey becomes Austin’s first love (I say first…maybe his only?  Only Susan Andersen knows for sure). 

I really enjoyed the book.  Absentee parents was a major theme and it hits close to home.  I appreciated Jake’s efforts to make up for his absence and I understood his limitations regarding love.  He wasn’t just “being a guy,” but there were genuine issues that he had to overcome to be worthy of both Austin and Jenny.  At the end of the day, if a book makes me want more, I say it’s a keeper.  And this book definitely made me anxious for more of Razor Bay. 

Pecans:  3.75/5

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