Author: Kelsey Browning
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Story Setting: Shelbyville, TX (small town)
Published by: Carina Press
Published Date: November 24, 2014
ASIN: B00M6G8N0UTexas Nights Series:
Book 1 Personal Assets
Book 2 Running the Red Light
Book 3 Problems in Paradise ~ my review http://wp.me/p40XtX-oR
Book 4 Designed for Love
Ashton Davenport: Hot blonde. Old Money. Off-limits.
That’s how Mac McLaughlin sees her, anyway. And now that he’s enduring a temporary self-imposed exile in tiny Shelbyville, Texas, he’s seeing her way too often. Mac only wants to succeed as the contractor for the Lily Lake development in order to rebuild his reputation and return to Dallas, pronto. A sexy distraction like Ashton was not in the plans.
Mac McLaughlin: Hot builder. Cash poor. Hands-on.
Ashton kissed her trust fund goodbye and left her life as a society princess to prove she could make it on her own. Developing Lily Lake is her big chance, but it’s hard to stay focused working side-by-side with bossy, rough-around-the-edges Mac. Especially when he pulls off his shirt.
When the discovery of an endangered species derails the project, Mac can’t afford to stick around for a stalled job. His and Ashton’s explosive chemistry aside, he’s outta there…unless she can convince him that they just might be able to build something together.
My Thoughts: I haven’t followed the full series. I was introduced to Kelsey Browning’s writing in book three, Problems in Paradise. In this book we are again in Shelbyville, Texas. Some of the characters from book three also play a role in the story, but if you haven’t read any of the series, it doesn’t take from the story or the fun of being in a small town. Yes, small towns have their personalities and this one is no different. Someone’s business is everyone’s and truth or untruths which is very much part of the story run rampant through the population, so nothing is secret.
Ashton Davenport grew up with a golden spoon in her mouth with all the trappings of a debutante. She, however, didn’t like the direction her life was headed within her family nor the lifestyle which came with her trust fund. She didn’t overly like herself within that environment, so with what grit she had, she told her family she didn’t want the trust fund and moved to Shelbyville to start fresh. She’d always loved to make things beautiful, which led her to the idea of starting up a small business in Shelbyville called Designs to Die For. Unfortunately, her background dealing with the rich and mighty did little to encourage people in Shelbyville to like her let alone trust her and give her business.
Afraid she would go belly up, she talked with her grandmother, Adelaide Chappell, an astute politically inclined woman, who had always liked Ashton, feeling there was potential behind the rich blonde girl she was. When Adelaide offered her the chance to run the Lily Lake project, a huge undertaking for Ashton, she hoped this would goad her into become the person she ‘saw’ she could be. As we find out, Ashton had lots of growing to do, but gutsy enough to climb off the floor every time she was knocked down.
Mac McLaughlin’s mom mentioned to Mac she’d like to do something with her life, maybe move to a small town and open a boutique, so he decided Shelbyville would be a great town for her. He also wanted to do something special for her. As a contractor from Dallas and great with carpentry he leased a store and proceeded to gut it, putting in the necessary shelves, designing for a doggy boutique. Designs to Die For was just next door. Mac had a lot of personal problems, owed lots of people money back in Dallas and just wanted to get his head screwed back on the way it should be, finish the project for his mom and head back to his old haunt.
Ashton needed help fast. Her general contractor up and died on her, so she had to ask Mac to help, being the only general contractor in town who she felt had the background and need to start this project. How would she convince him? He wanted nothing to do with her and Ashton, well Ashton, was a bit of a thorn to him. When he saw she was cornered, he agreed to help her meet her grandmother’s stipulations in the first phase of the project. He was drawn to the woman and had trouble keeping distance from Ashton. He wasn’t the kind of guy for her who was too high maintenance and self-centered – or so he thought.
A particular scene at the beginning of the story that kept me laughing was when Mac first meets Ashton in the Piggly Wiggly story where Napoleon, Ashton’s little pooch steals the show. Kelsey writes an extremely descriptive and hilarious scene of Napoleon racing from aisle to aisle, knocking stuff down and finally getting himself into the butcher shop where all the meat is on display behind the glass cases. Both Mac and Ashton try catching him.
By the time Napoleon is caught, Ashton’s tab is huge. The manager tells her she has to pay over $9,000. It’s money she doesn’t have. It’s money that Mac doesn’t have either, but he finds himself paying it for her. Here is where we learn what stuff Mac is made of. Ashton agrees and promises to pay it back, but so many things back-fire on the two, it becomes neigh impossible to get the money together. Ashton, in the meantime learns to put others before herself, learns that the feel of flannel plaid shirts is preferable to silk, and believing in oneself and others makes life worth living.
I enjoyed dialog when Ashton and Mac talk with Napoleon, the pooch. He was very much part of the story. I also liked the tough love approach Adelaide Chappell has for her granddaughter and how some people need to be prodded with a big stick to believe in themselves.
All in all, it was an enjoyable read with plenty of sparks flying between Ashton and Mac, but so much more in the telling that it will linger long in my memory.
Originally from a small Texas town, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a former Canine Companions for Independence puppy. She’s currently at work on the next book in her Texas Nights contemporary romance series and The Granny Series cozy mysteries.
For info on her upcoming releases, subscribe to her Sass Kickin’ News or drop by www.KelseyBrowning.com.