Restoring Hope by C.P. Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
***** 5 Cranky Stars *****
This is the 3rd book by CP Smith I have read and reviewed for our cranky group, and it was just what the doctor ordered for me after too long a run of dark reads on my Kindle. I picked it up, honestly not even remembering what the synopsis had been. It didn't matter - I was very quickly drawn into the wonderfully realistic N'Awlins setting.
Hope is a woman running scared from her past. We meet her as her hiding has brought her to New Orleans. Never stay anywhere long and don't look anyone in the eye and certainly don't get attached to anyone are the survival skills she has honed, but as her money is running low, she must find some kind of under the table employment so she can't be traced. She takes her classified ads to The Bayou to search for a position that might suit her needs while she sips the wonderful French roast coffee.
Nic is a man haunted by the loss of his daughter, his tite ange, to drug addiction and overdose a year prior. He blames himself, and his divorce, for her demise. On nights he doesn't have his son, Nicky, he drowns his sorrows at The Bayou.
Hmmmm, see how The Bayou comes up in the introduction of both of these troubled souls? Along with leaving me with an overwhelming craving for Cajun food, the fabulous proprietor, Maman Rose, is one of those fantastic, larger than life characters you want to pull out of the pages of the book and bring into your own life. The book has a great romantic suspense storyline, but Maman Rose, along with Big Daddy, Henri and Abby, are the powdered sugar on the beignet!
Maman Rose's huge heart immediately expands for the broken girl, and beyond giving her a job, she is an incurable romantic with her mind set on playing matchmaker for T'Hope and one of her favorite customers, Nic. She has watched Nic suffer for too long, from the days of his marriage to the intolerable hussy, Kat.
What Maman wants, she usually gets.
It is hard to say whether Hope or Nic has the most heartbreaking backstory, but the story at hand gives us plenty of action, adventure and emotion in the rich Louisiana ambiance.
New Orleans, the swamps, Baton Rouge come to life in sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feels while the story meanders around it.
I was so drawn in to this perfect mix of romance, suspense, action and drama. There were enough little things that another round through an editor should fix to warrant a mention, but certainly not so many as to detract from the story. I debated between, 4 and 5 stars, but I so was drawn in to so many aspects of the story that I decided the 5 were fully warranted. Having Hope reading another book by the author I had read may have been the grain to tip the scale; I love little tie-ins like that.
The other two books I have read by CP Smith feature over the top alpha males. While Nic is definitely an alpha - and 100% male - I found his subtle by comparison alphaishness rather refreshing. I adored the other books, but this one easily became my favorite of the three. Hope is as much of a spitfire as Smith's other heroines, but again, it is a bit more subtle. The supporting cast of characters are simply marvelous, as they have been in all three of the books. The explicit sexual scenes are wonderfully hot, but also a little less frequent in a refreshing way. Definitely recommended for an adult audience looking for a hot and sweet romance with some thriller aspects intwined.
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