Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: Believe in Me by Laura Moore

Believe in Me by Laura Moore
published by Random House Publishing (Ballantine Books) in January 2011
Even the most tightly locked heart has a key

After learning of her husband’s affair, Jordan Radcliffe is crushed, but she knows she must stay strong for her three young children. So she moves back to Rosewood, the idyllic horse farm where she grew up. Wishing only to recover and reassess her life, Jordan feels an undeniable attraction to architect Owen Gage—and does her best to ignore it. Her heart is too fragile to love again.

Yet when Owen, who himself is wary of any romantic involvement, offers her a job she badly needs, Jordan has no choice but to accept, even though it means she’ll be working alongside him every day. And that closeness could intensify the connection between them—a desire as unnerving as it is powerful.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Rosewood trilogy, Book #2

The Story: As the oldest daughter, Jordan Radcliffe has always strove to satisfy her conservative father's expectations of a proper Radcliffe woman: she was domestically inclined, went to college, married young and had children. Jordan was happy with her life... until she found out her husband had an affair. Still, she was willing to work on saving their marriage after her husband had assured her the affair was done, but unfortunately for Jordan, her world crumbled when she discovered it was all a lie. She got a divorce and moved back to Rosewood with her three young children: Kate (6 y.o.), Max (4 y.o.) and Olivia (1 y.o.).

Jordan's first priority is to find a job, a source of income to provide for her children and also help out Rosewood. Her plan is to resuscitate her interior designer career by revamping an acquaintance's - one of the leading society ladies - guest house. However, Jordan's service is not retained, although her ideas are. Instead, the business goes to Owen Gage whose firm did the restoration. Owen is none too happy either to be using someone else's ideas, especially since he was impressed by Jordan's pitch. Feeling like he owns her and knowing she could use the work, Owen offers Jordan a job: to decorate Hawk Hill, the adjacent property to Rosewood and Owen's pet project.

But is it wise to work with someone you find so attractive?

My Opinion: I picked up Believe in Me because I was in the mood for a good contemporary romance and  a lot of my blogger friends have suggested that I give Ms Moore a try in the past year. I'm glad I listened to them, since I ended up enjoying Believe in Me a lot :)

Frankly, there was nothing new about the story told in Believe in Me, but the reason I enjoyed it so much was the beautiful execution: likable characters, sweet romance and solid writing. I mean, what more can I ask for? :) I really liked that Ms Moore took her time developing and setting up every aspect of the story. Some will find that it made for a slow pacing and it was to a certain extent. At the same time, it allowed me to really get a feel for Jordan's life - her routine and her struggles - and it contributed to make the whole story more realistic and normal. I also greatly appreciated that the H/H did not fall into lust and into bed too quickly, which is becoming one of my biggest pet peeves ^_^; It was just nice to read a slow romance, to see the relationship unfolds.

As I mentioned above, I liked that Ms Moore kept the story grounded. She didn't over-romanticize or dramatize the story. For example, Jordan's three children weren't overly cute or mature for their age. And Owen's discomfort with the children didn't miraculously disappear after one encounter. In fact, his wariness of Olivia was the source of a few chuckles LOL. And I have to say, I loved the way Jordan handled her situation with her ex-husband. I liked how level-headed and reasonable she was... and I found it sad that her ex-husband lied and hurt her instead of being honest to the person he vowed to love.

All in all, as I said, Believe in Me was an enjoyable book. Aside from the romance and the story involving the H/H, the book focused on the Radcliffe sisters. I have to say I enjoyed their interactions, their bond. The trilogy's storyline was also well woven into, it didn't steal the spotlight and didn't bore me. And I think Ms Moore addressed the situation with Jordan's teenage sister, Jade, realistically. Oh and if you're a fan of horses, you definitively want to read this trilogy :) In the end, when it came to Believe in Me, it was all about balance and Ms Moore did an excellent job. I only have two minor complaints about the book: 1) at times, Owen felt a bit boyish in my opinion, although it did fit with his bachelor status... but when you think he's paired up with Jordan, a mother of three, it just didn't feel right. Then again, he probably brought forth another side of Jordan, so it does work... just not for me. 2) I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. Given the rest of the book was so well developed, it feels like Believe in Me could have used the same development or an epilogue.

My Grade: B+.