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Love Next Door (Lakeside #1) by Helena Hunting

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Love Next Door, an all-new sweet and endearing romance from New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting is now live!

When Dillion Stitch left her hometown, she had no intention of going back. But when her brother gets into trouble, Dillion reluctantly agrees to return home to take her place at the family business.

Being back in Pearl Lake after all these years feels familiar, but also brings a few surprises. She’s quick to notice that someone new has shown up at the cottage next door.  Dillion gets more than an eyeful when she goes to check out the newcomer and meets Donovan “Van” Firestone—her beloved neighbor’s grandson—in all his unclothed glory.

Having gotten off to a rocky start, it’s not long before they begin bickering with each other all over town. All that back and forth inevitably sparks an undeniable attraction. But Dillion’s family has issues, Van’s family resents him, and neither Dillion nor Van feels truly at ease in the small town. For these Pearl Lake exiles, home isn’t ju

MY REVIEW

And yet another author has captured my attention with her playful prose and a captivating plot. 

The story follows Dillion Stitch and Donovan “Van” Firestone who have returned to the small town of Pearl Lake. Dillion is there to help her family and Van is there to look over his late Grammy Bee’s home and unfortunately, to lay low from a scandal where he’s being framed for embezzling money from his late mother’s foundation. As Dillion and Van do the dance of what Van’s intentions are with beloved Bee’s property, their attraction deepens as their lives intertwine by a force beyond their wildest dreams.

Dillion feels like she’s failed. She’s lost her job, her boyfriend, and her apartment in Chicago and is going home to Pearl Lake. The town she couldn’t wait to leave for the bright lights and big city. Pearl Lake is a huge gossip mill where everyone knows your business and what better fodder than her irresponsible brother wrapping her father’s construction company work truck around a mailbox and getting a DUI. Now he’s laid up with a broken ankle and she is helping out with her dad’s mess of paperwork. It doesn’t help she is also dealing with her handsome and irritating neighbor, Van Firestone, grandson to her beloved next-door neighbor Bee. He has finally shown up to do something with his late grandmother’s house which needs a lot of work and he also rubs her the wrong way by constantly pushing her buttons. 

Van lives and works in Chicago, but has wonderful memories of spending time with his Grammy Bee in Pearl Lake for the summers. When he returns to go over Bee’s house and property Van gets the shocking news from his dad that he is being investigated for embezzlement of his late mother’s foundation. The foundation he helped set up when his mother died. If that isn’t enough he soon learns he is fired from his job. At his father’s request, he remains in Pearl Lake to stay out of the public eye. Good thing he has lots to do to fix up Grammy Bee’s home and even better, he gets to rile up his beautiful next-door neighbor. But the big question is, who is trying to frame him and why?

With all the turmoil going on in their lives, Dillion and Van’s relationship is vital. Their common bond with Bee is wonderful to see as they reminisce about her impact on their lives. There are significant differences in Dillion’s and Van’s family lives. Dillion’s middle-class family is very close and Van’s wealthy family is very challenging at best. Dillion is feisty and won’t back down from a fight. She is also kind and generous as she will do anything for her family. Van is firm and decisive and easily adapts to living in Grammy Bee’s home. His playful banter with Dillion is fun and sexy at the same time. The love story is a slow builder and their first kiss is worth waiting for.

There is some intrigue in the story regarding the embezzlement which wasn’t a surprise to me, but interesting to watch it unravel. Also, the author does an excellent job dealing with the serious issue of mental health.

The supporting characters are many. I loved Dillion’s family dynamics with her loving parents and her troubled brother, Billy. Van’s sister Teagan is a breath of fresh air with her kindness and quirkiness and Van’s brother, Bradley, is a pampered playboy. Aaron is Dillion’s friend who works for her father and looks like he and Teagan may be a good pair for an upcoming book in the series. As for Tucker, Dillion’s cheating and icky ex, he deserves everything he gets.

If you enjoy contemporary romances with fun and endearing characters and a little bit of intrigue thrown in, give this book a try.

Thank you to Ms. Hunting for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.

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Love Next Door

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EXCERPT

I turn on the flashlight and trudge through the brush and past the campfire, which incidentally has been left unattended. It’s down to a smolder, but Van has left out hot dog sticks and a bag of buns.

I keep going, toward Bee’s front porch and the blinding spotlight. Standing in front of the cottage is Van. Shirtless. Sweaty and shirtless. The bright light shines directly on him, accenting the dips and ridges, the smooth planes of muscle.

Van is ripped. Probably because he spends a lot of time at the gym, staring at his own reflection in the mirror. He lifts his ball cap from his head and runs a hand through his deliciously sweaty dark hair before he flips his cap around and replaces it, backward this time.

I roll my eyes at myself. What the hell is wrong with me? Deliciously sweaty. “Hey!” I bark.

He startles and the hammer in his hand goes flying, but he was on the back swing, so it heads in my direction. I sidestep it, and it manages to miss me by about six inches. He spins around, eyes wide as they land on me. “What the fuck?”

“Do you realize what time it is?”

“Do you realize that you scared the living shit out of me and I could’ve hurt you, or myself?” He motions to the hammer lying on the ground next to me.

“Wouldn’t that have been a pity,” I snap.

“What the hell is your damn problem?”

“You.” I point a finger at him. “You are the problem. It’s after ten. There’s a bylaw in place around here that stipulates all construction takes place between the hours of seven a.m. and nine p.m. from June to August, and you’re violating that. And for what? It’s not like whatever you’re doing is going to matter when your damn plan is to parcel out the property!” I’m yelling now, and heaving. And my nipples are peaking under the white tank I wore to bed. I hug myself to hide them.

“This is the second time you’ve said that. What the hell are you talking about?”

“What do you mean, what am I talking about?” I flail for a second and then cross my arms again. “You called me about it. Bee wasn’t gone a couple of weeks, and you were already asking about acreage and subdividing. It doesn’t take a genius to know what your plans are!”

“I don’t even know what you mean by subdividing, and I never called you.”

“Yes, you did!” He’s just so infuriating.

“No. I didn’t. Believe me, I’d remember dealing with someone as hostile as you.”

“I am not hostile.”

“Really?” Van props a fist on his hip. His narrow hip.

I follow the movement, which leads my eyes to his waist, that enticing V of muscle dragging my gaze down farther. Of course, because my brain is a jerk, the image of him naked pops back into my brain.

As if he’s reading my mind, his brow arches. “You’re picturing me naked right now. Aren’t you?”

“What? No!” My eyes snap back up to his.

“Yeah. You are.” His lip curls, somewhere between a smirk and sneer, his tone needling. “You were staring at my crotch, probably thinking about the last time you visually molested my junk. Is that why you stopped by? To check me out again? This whole fake phone call thing is an excuse for you to come back over here and get a look at the goods again.” He runs a hand down his chest.

“You’re an egotistical asshole. I realize that this might be some kind of fun holiday for you, and that you’re probably sleeping until noon every day, but some of us have to be up at the crack of dawn. Bylaw hours are seven a.m. to nine p.m. Next time you break them, expect to get a visit from the sheriff.” I spin around and stomp over to the extension cord, find the place where it’s joined to the lamp, and break the connection, submerging us in darkness. “Next time I won’t be so nice about it.”

“Hate to break it to you, but you weren’t very nice about it this time,” he calls after me.

It drives me crazy how easy it is for him to push my buttons.

A few seconds later I hear an oof and a clatter, which means he’s tripped over something in the dark. I smile to myself. Hopefully this time he’ll get the message.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helena HuntingNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy. Never miss an update! Subscribe to Helena’s mailing list.

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