When I was working on Keep Coming Back To Love I knew Candy had an assistant, but when they appeared at Angie and Alan’s backyard party in Try a Little Tenderness lo and behold the assistant had been promoted to publicist (Ty didn’t know when he was on the phone with her at the hospital.) She was also Indian (which was a surprise to me.) As Ryan and Taylor’s story progressed, it became clear that Ryan’s friend Mick was a lot more messed up by their sordid past and that Sarina had to be his soulmate.
Then I started their book and there were more fun surprises in store for me. (Honestly, you’d think I didn’t make these people up.) Chief among those delights was seeing Candy from a different angle. In Keep Coming Back To Love, she grew from teen girl to grown woman, but that story was all about her feelings for Ty. In this book, she is a mentor to Sarina and she’s awesome! Sarina’s parents are really fun too. They’re wise in ways that Sarina doesn’t appreciate yet. They’re also a little ridiculous. Sarina thinks they’re not ambitious, but look at their hobbies! Her mother builds doll houses—elaborate, wired for electricity—doll houses. And she builds a train set to the same scale as the doll house. Sarina’s father likes to cook and sew. He made Sarina a Belle costume when she was a little girl. His cooking is terrible because he doesn’t pay attention to the details, but also because he’s trying to make things that are way beyond his capabilities. They are both very ambitious, just not about their jobs.
Getting to see Mick learn that all relationships aren’t like the twisted relationship he had with Mrs. Spencer was painful though. He really does not understand and there are several scenes where he and Sarina are talking but they are not having the same conversation. When the realization did dawn, it was uplifting. Sarina needed to learn it wasn’t all about her. At the beginning of the book, she feels like it is (and in many ways it is.) As things progress, she’s trying to figure out Mick through the lens of it being about her, and failing, until she finds out about Mick’s trauma. In that moment, she finally becomes the person she’s been working toward the entire book.
I think readers of the Drawn To the Rhythm and Rock And Roll State Of Mind series will enjoy this a bit more because there are so many cameos. Readers of Keep Coming Back To Love will especially enjoy seeing what was going on while Candy was catatonic in the hospital when June got sick. It can be read without having read the other books, but I enjoy spotting those kinds of references so I can’t help but put them in myself. (Castle and the Firefly references anyone?)
Pssst – here’s that excerpt:
“So this time I was wrong. How many times has that happened?”
“I don’t know because I always did what you thought was right. Maybe you were wrong before and we lost chances to get out of the hole we were in because you didn’t want any of us to reach out and take the help that was offered.”
“We don’t need to argue about this.” Gale stepped between them.
“Really? That about Lisa?” Ryan glared at both of them.
Gale tensed. “Don’t mention Lisa.”