Past Promises by N.J. Walters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The seventh - and so far, last - installment in the Jamesville series, Past Promises tells the story of former Army (Special Forces) operative Levi Mann, who was introduced in By The Book, and antiques and collectibles dealer Linda Fletcher, who was introduced in The Seduction of Shamus O'Rourke.
Coming from a wealthy but dysfunctional family, Linda Fletcher is the proverbial "poor rich woman". She was supposed to follow in her family's tradition, joining the prominent law firm that was founded by her great-great-great-grandfather more than a hundred years ago and marrying one of her father's associates, but that life isn't for her. The only person in her family who's ever understood her was her maternal grandmother, so now that the old woman has passed away, Linda feels like she has no family anymore. Her ruthless father, distant mother and uncaring brother don't count. As the sole heir to her grandmother's estate, Linda has packed her bags, cut her family loose and moved to Jamesville, ready to start her new, independent life. She gets a bank loan, which she'll pay as soon as her grandmother's will is settled, and buys a three story building: she opens Past Promises, an antiques and collectibles store, on the main floor, revamps the top floor for her own personal use, and rents out the 2nd floor apartment to a friend of a friend.
Levi Mann is the "friend of a friend". He's friends with Jonah Sutter (the hero in By The Book), who's married with Amanda Barrington, Amanda Sutter now, who's friends with Linda. Got it? It's a small, small world. :) Anyway, Levi is an ex-military man who also moved to Jamesville a few months ago, needed a place to stay and was willing to work in exchange for rent, and that's how he ended up living "with" Linda and developing a friendly relationship with her. He's got the hots for her, but he thinks she's too classy for him, the rough son of a drug-addict mother and unknown father. So he stays away... until her family starts to harass her. He doesn't know much about her personal life, but it's obvious to him that her family is a sore issue. He can't not try to help her and when he pushes her into confiding in him, the attraction that both of them have been holding off for months takes over and things get hot and heavy pretty fast. Neither thinks the affair will last - she's sure he isn't in Jamesville to stay, and he still thinks she's out of his league - but we all know they're wrong, don't we? ;)
Overall, this was another nice and "feel good" story by Ms. Walters. I liked both Levi and Linda, even though I didn't feel that I got to know him as well as I could. Levi's inferiority complex wasn't completely believable, especially considering that Linda didn't have a snobbish bone in her body and he knew that. Anyway, not much angst was put on that, so I'm not going to hold a grudge against him. He also didn't know the meaning of the word "privacy", but I kind of understood where he was coming from. Linda's family was a bit OTT in their nefarious dealings, and so was the resolution for her conflict with them. Her confrontation with them would have been enough to settle the matter and I could have done without Levi's final blow, but I guess Ms. Walters wanted to make sure they were down for good. Oh well, bad guys can never be punished enough...
Now that I have no more new books in this series to read, I can't help hoping that Ms. Walters isn't done with it yet and keeps writing about the good people of Jamesville. If she writes it, I'll read it.
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