Title: That Thing Called Love by Susan Andersen
Razor Bay Series Book One
Imprint: Harlequin HQN
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Book Rating: B
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
For a guy she’s fantasized about throttling, Jake Bradshaw sure is easy on the eyes. In fact, he seriously tempts inn manager Jenny Salazar to put her hands to better use. Except this is the guy who left Razor Bay–and his young son, Austin, whom Jenny adores like her own–to become a globe-trotting photojournalist. He can’t just waltz back and claim Austin now.
Jake was little more than a kid himself when he became a dad. Sure, he’d dreamed of escaping the resort town, but he’d also truly believed that Austin was better off with his grandparents. Now he wants–no, needs–to make up for his mistake. He intends to stay in Razor Bay only until he can convince Austin to return with him to New York. Trouble is, with sexy, protective, utterly irresistible Jenny in his life, and his bed, he may never want to leave….
Most heroes in romance novels are cookie cutter perfect, but in That Thing Called Love, Susan Andersen takes a chance with a very imperfect character, absentee father Jake Bradshaw, and she beautifully redeems him into a dedicated family man who captures both Austin and Jenny Salazar’s heart.
Jake Bradshaw gladly accepted his in-laws offer to raise his son Austin while he pursued his college degree. But after breaking promise after promise to visit his young son, he agrees with his in-laws that he should stay out of Austin’s life. Austin is frequently in his thoughts, and Jake does think about going back to visit, but his guilt makes it easy for him to stay away. It takes the death of both of Austin’s grandparents to force him to finally man up and become a parent to his now thirteen year old son. But Jake is going to find that easier said than done when he is confronted with Austin’s indifference and fiercely protective guardian Jenny Salazar.
Did I like Jake Bradshaw in the beginning of That Thing Called Love? Not so much. But as I learned more of Jake’s background, the circumstances of Austin’s birth and Austin’s grandparents’ possible motives for keeping them apart, I became more understanding of how Jake was able to convince himself to stay out of Austin’s life. Even though he tried to deny it, his love for Austin was always obvious. What finally won me over? His ability to accept responsibility for his actions, his genuine remorse and his strong determination to finally be Austin’s dad.
Jenny Salazar is an absolutely fabulous and quite lovable heroine. She has overcome obstacles of her own and she has the backbone to prove it. She always acts in Austin’s best interests even though it will break her heart to let him go with Jake. She is sweet, charming and I like that she does not let her fear of getting her heart broken keep her from getting involved with Jake.
For all the turmoil and tragedy in his young life, Austin is a pretty well-grounded teenager. He is a normal kid enjoying a pretty carefree childhood. He is obviously conflicted about letting Jake in his life but he handles his unexpected and unwelcome appearance fairly well. With time, patience and persistence on Jake’s part, Austin slowly begins to accept his dad into his life.
That Thing Called Love is a charming love story with flawed and realistic characters. I have often wondered what could possibly motivate a parent to essentially abandon a child for someone else to raise and Susan Andersen provides valuable insight into what seem to be fairly valid reasons. I like that Jake took the time to fix the broken relationships in his life and that he was willing to give up a part of his dream for the people that he loves.
That Thing Called Love is a quick and easy read with a satisfying resolution that I think many fans of contemporary romances will enjoy. Ms. Andersen has an engaging writing style, and I am looking forward to the next installment of the Razor Bay series.