Series: Lake Haven #3
Published by Montlake Romance on July 25th 2017
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Single mother Kyra Kokinos spends her days waiting tables, her nights working on her real estate license, and every spare moment with her precocious six-year-old daughter, Ruby—especially when Ruby won’t stop pestering their grumpy next-door neighbor. At first glance, Dax Bishop seems like the kind of gruff, solitary guy who’d be unlikely to offer a cup of sugar, let alone a marriage proposal. But that’s exactly what happens when Ruby needs life-saving surgery.
Dax showed up in East Beach a year ago, fresh from a painful divorce and looking for a place where he could make furniture and avoid people. Suddenly his life is invaded by an inquisitive munchkin in sparkly cowboy boots—and her frazzled, too-tempting mother. So he presents a practical plan: his insurance will help Ruby, and then they can divorce—zero strings attached.
But soon Kyra and Dax find their engagement of convenience is simple in name only. As their attraction deepens, a figure from the past reappears, offering a way out. Can Kyra and Dax let go so easily, or has their sudden engagement become something more?
I think I enjoyed the friendship between little Ruby and Dax even more than the romance. This kid is adorable.
Kyra had it all. She landed a job at a magazine and took her first steps into the world of publishing. She could see all her dreams coming true. Until a little too much alcohol at a destination wedding lead to some unprotected sex and a scary little oops. That’s bad enough, but when she calls the man responsible, he wants her to get rid of the baby since he is getting married in a few months to his long-time girlfriend.
Seven years later, Kyra’s a single mother and her dreams have all changed quite a bit. She dreams of being able to go to the bathroom by herself, enough time to make a decent meal for her daughter and maybe enough money at the end of the month to take some of the strain off her life.
Kyra and Ruby have just moved into a quiet little cabin on a lake in the much cheaper, and infinitely nicer neighborhood in Lake Haven, NY. The summer crowd is jumping and Kyra has a chance to make some decent tips but until school starts again, Kyra is going to have to find a babysitter who will accept what little she can pay. Especially since Ruby seems to have a fondness for their cranky new neighbor, a man who has holds nothing back in his desire to have Ruby remain on her own side of the fence.
It is Dax, a former paramedic, who notices Ruby’s medical problem and who jumped in to help Kyra get the medical coverage Ruby needed by offering to marry her. Dax and Kyra had just started enjoying their close proximity, so being forced to jump into a quicky marriage throws this blossoming relations off-kilter, but it is Dax who recovers first and gets excited at the prospect of their new family.
While the story is supposed to be the romance between Kyra and Dax, I think I enjoyed reading Dax and Ruby’s interactions more. I thought Robert Downey Jr would be perfect for Dax as he always has the same dry humor in almost any part he plays. Ruby would come find Dax. She would ask if he wants her tell him about her day. He would tell her no, thanks but then sit and listen to the girl talk. Dax wasn’t interested in getting to know the family next door and while he was rude to her, Ruby was never put off by him and Dax was never vicious or angry in his desire to not be bothered by the neighbor’s kid.
This was a very enjoyable story and I did pick up one of the earlier stories after finishing because it had gone on sale. This was the third story in the series, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. So this definitely can be read as a stand alone.
This was my second Julia London story and I had a lot of issues with the last one so I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this one. I guess it does pay to give an author a second chance.
If this sounded interesting, come back tomorrow as Suddenly Engaged will be our Friday eBook Giveaway.
He clicked off the phone and stuffed it in his pocket. What was he doing, again? Right, he was almost finished with that car, but first he had to get Otto out of Mrs. McCauley’s garden. But when he turned toward the Victorian house on the hill, he realized that Otto’s barking was coming from the lake, not the McCauley house. He turned around, moving from in front of Kyra’s car, scanning the lake in search of his dog.
He spotted him–Otto was on a rock, his butt in the air, his tail wagging furiously. And there, next to him, was Ruby Coconuts. She was crouched down, and it looked like she was holding a stick.
Dax scanned the lakeshore. No one around but Otto and Ruby. He glanced back at Number Threee. Through the open screen door, he could hear the TV. He jogged over to tell the woman that Ruby was down at the lake, but when he walked up on the porch, he saw the old bag in a reclining chair, fast asleep while some game show blared.
“Hey!” he shouted. The woman startled awake. “Your kid is outside,” he said and pointed toward the lake. He glanced back and his heart seized–Otto was crouched down on the rock, his head over the side of it, pointed toward the lake, and Ruby was nowhere to be seen.
Dax leapt off the porch and ran, his stride as long as he could make it. It seemed to take forever to cover the roughly fifty yeards between the cottages and the lake, and by the time he reached the rock, Otto had gained his feet and was barking again. Dax raced around the rock, saw Ruby flailing in the water.
He jumped in–thank God the water was really shallow here–and grabbed her up, holding her tightly to him, her head against his shoulder, his arms firmly around her body. She wrapped her legs and arms around hm and started to cry.
His heart was beating as wildly as hers. He clung to her in relief as he climbed out of the water. He paused to give Otto a scratch behind the ears and a “good boy.” When he was on the beach again, he caressed Ruby’s crown and asked, “What were you doing down there, Coconut?”
“It was a dragonfly,” she sobbed.
“Ah, a dragonfly,” he said, still caressing her head, still swallowing to get his heart to stop pounding. He continued on, walking up the shore with her, trying vainly to catch his breath. He kept picturing what he might have found had he not been out front–a little girl floating facedown in the lake. The vision made him feel sick.
The babysitter had managed to get off her butt and was hurrying toward them as fast as Dax supposed she could go, considering her girth. She stopped running when she saw Dax carrying Ruby up from the lake, and braced a hand against her knee to catch her breath. “She’s not supposed to be out there,” she said between pants.
Dax walked past her, hardly able to look at her. “Get me some clothes for her,” he said curtly He wasn’t going to say any more, because he thougth he might take her head off if he did.
“What are you going to do?” the babysitter asked as she hurried to keep up with him.
She had not even asked how Ruby was, had not tried to comfort her, and Dax was a boiling egg about to explode. “Ruby’s going to hang out with me today.”
“What? You can’t do that!”
“Sure I can.” He paused on the drive in front of Number Three. “If you have a problem, I’ll give Kyra a call.”
The woaman frowned. “Carrie ain’t going to fire me. She doesn’t have another option.”
That remark infuriated him. The old bag showed absolutely no remorse for what had nearly happened. Ruby could have drowned. “Okay. Then maybe I”ll call the police,” he said.
“No, don’t call the police!” Ruby wailed. “I don’t want to get in trouble!”
The woman pressed her lips together and marched into Number Three. She returned a few minutes later and thrust some clothes at Dax. He caught them with his free hand.
“You haven’t heard the end of this, buster,” she said.
“Are you kidding me?” Dax asked incredulously. He turned around and walked away from her. She was the second woman in his life he’d wanted to punch in the mouth.
He, Ruby, and Otto crowded into his cottage. Ruby was still whimpering. Dax set her down then squatted in front of her. “Look, Coconut, you’re okay. Stop crying.”
She nodded and sniffed.
“Go in there and put these on,” he said, pointing at his bedroom door. “You can put on your clothes, can’t you?”
“I have to put my closthes on every day.”
“Okay. Well, you can understand my confusion, since you never have your boots on the right feet.”
She looked down.
He gestured for a foot. She lifted it, and he yanked off the boot, grimacing as water spilled on his clean floor. He took off the other one and stood up, holding the boots in one hand. “Go put the dry clothes on, then bring me your wet clothes.”
“What are you going to do with them?”
“I’m going to put them in a sandwich and eat them.”
She looked at him very studiously. “You can’t eat clothes.”
Ruby shook her head.
“Then I guess I”ll hang them out to dry. And then I’m putting you to work, Coconut. You’re going to be my helper.”
She gasped “Yay!” she said, and just like that, her blues were banished. She took the clothes from him and ran into his bedroom to change.
“Yeah, you think it’s all cookies and cream right now, but just wait ’til I’m through with you,” he called after her.
“Awesome!” she shouted back.
Dax walked out onto the porch to deposit the boots, then put his hand against the porch railing and drew a deep breath. He wished he could banish the blues as easily as that little girl could, but his heart was still trying to jackhammer out of his chest and his belly still churned with the nausea of imagining what might have happened if he hadn’t been close by.
He didn’t know quite what to make of her mother, but Dax wasn’t going to let the coconut out of his sight anytime soon.
Love that excerpt. I have to admit, books with kids are so much more fun. I’m always impressed with how well authors capture a child’s innocence, inquisitiveness and blend this with the story.