Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan
published by Harlequin (HQN Books) in August 2016
In the chaos of New York, true love can be hard to find, even when it's been right under your nose all along…Genre: Contemporary romance
Love has never been a priority for garden designer Frankie Cole. After witnessing the fallout of her parents' divorce, she's seen the devastation an overload of emotion can cause. The only man she feels comfortable with is her friend Matt—but that's strictly platonic. If only she found it easier to ignore the way he makes her heart race…
Matt Walker has loved Frankie for years but, sensing how fragile she is beneath her feisty exterior, has always played it cool. But then he uncovers new depths to the girl he's known forever and doesn't want to wait a moment longer. He knows Frankie has secrets and has buried them deep, but can Matt persuade her to trust him with her heart and kiss him under the Manhattan sunset?
Series: From Manhattan with Love, Book #2
The Story: After witnessing her parents' divorce and seeing how it transformed her mother, Frankie Cole doesn't believe in love. She's actually quite anti-love; not the best stance when you are co-owner of an event and concierge company whose bulk of business mainly have to do with weddings, engagement parties and bridal showers. So when Matt Walker - best friend's older brother and landlord - needs a floral designer to complete the landscape of a roof garden, Frankie jumps on the occasion to get away from all the romance for the summer.
Matt Walker has been in love with Frankie for years, but had to play it cool because he knows Frankie's views on love. However, Matt's patience has run out and he's decided that now is the time to make his move as they will be spending more time together for work.
My Opinion: I read the first book in the series, Sleepless in Manhattan, and liked it well enough to continue the series. The truth is the one I really want to read is Eva's book, but it's not coming till November. So for now, I went with Sunset in Central Park, figuring that it'd be fine since I usually like grumpy/prickly characters... but I was wrong ^_^; Now, I'm going to sound like the heroine scrooge because this will be the second book in a row that I review where I didn't like the heroine :(
Basically, Frankie has issues. One of them is her mother who, after the divorce, decided to boost her confidence by having sex with any willing male, even if it meant affairs with married men and coming onto Frankie's friends (notably Matt and Jake). Even now, she still hooks up with men younger than Frankie and is not shy about sharing details. In short, Frankie is mortified and has moved away from her hometown to escape a bad reputation and all the rumors. She likes New York City for its anonymity. She's also determined to be the complete opposite of her mother - stays away from men, tries to look unattractive and scoffs at romance. While I understood where the issues stem from and sympathized with Frankie, I have to admit I didn't like Frankie much. I just never connected with her and to a certain extent, found her annoying. Or actually, immature. She went out of her way to avoid/run away from things that bothered her - her mother and men. Her grumpiness was actually a front, an armor to keep people away. That's fine at first, but don't you eventually have to grow up and confront reality? How long can you keep running? All those panicky moments because she didn't know how to deal with Matt's attention and her attraction to him because she hadn't let herself feel like an adult. I don't know, I just felt Frankie should have been at a point where she should have worked out some of her issues already... and I wish she'd have gotten there on her own and not because of Matt's nudging. Later in the story, readers find out that there's more to Frankie's issues... but by that point, I didn't care anymore. And one last thing... glasses are bad disguise and don't make you look unattractive.
Aside from Frankie, I also had some issues with the storyline... First, I thought it was really unrealistic to have Frankie go to Puffin Island - their hometown - to attend a wedding with Matt. Those are like the two things she hates the most and I can't see her doing them unless it was unavoidable and it wasn't. I just didn't buy it. I also thought it was a bit tactless of Matt to ask her to do it knowing how she felt. Besides, the series is supposed to take place in New York City... My second niggle with them going to Puffin Island is... sometimes, cross-over between series are fun; unfortunately, they don't always work. Puffin Island was Ms Morgan's last trilogy before this one and frankly, I didn't read it all. It didn't hold my interest then and it didn't now either. Personally, I found it pointless to have them in this book ^_^; It would have been better to focus on Matt and Frankie or the current trilogy's characters instead of bringing back previous characters just for a peek. Finally, the secondary story with Matt's employee was meh. I felt it didn't add much to the romance other than show was a great guy Matt was.
Last but not least, I thought Matt was a great hero. Very patient and caring guy - perhaps a bit too much. I did think it was tactless for him to bring Frankie back to Puffin Island, but he did it to help her out. He's the perfect beta hero. I also enjoyed the friendships in this book a lot. Whether it was between the guys or the girls or the girls and guys :) And the sequel baiting did work because I still want to read Eva's book!
My Grade: C-. Perhaps I was in a bad mood when I read Sunset in Central Park, but this one just didn't work for me on many front. However, I know I'm going to be in the minority, so if you've enjoyed Ms Morgan's writing, don't let my review deter you :P