Tuesday, July 31, 2012

That Thing Called Love by Susan Andersen

He’s the last man on earth she should want…
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, who Jenny adores like her own—to become a globetrotting 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…
(Synopsis from susanandersen.com)

Paperback, HQN, 384 pages
This is the first book in the new Razor Bay series and it is a great start. Jenny Salazar has been the caretaker for her 13 year old “brother” Austen for several months since the deaths of his grandparents.  Austin is not related to her by blood but since Jenny worked for his grandparents since she was 16 years old, they have grown up together.   Jenny knows it is a matter of time before Austin’s father, Jake Bradshaw, comes back into Austin’s life but is surprised when he shows up unexpectedly.
Jake has not seen Austin since he was an infant.  The 18 year old Jake had gotten Austin’s mother pregnant and did the right thing by marrying her and leaving all of his college dreams behind.  When his wife died in childbirth, leaving him with a colicky baby, he panicked and took the grandparent’s offer to raise the child.  He has not seen or interacted with Austin since. He is now a famous photographer who has traveled all over the world and is based in NYC.  He lets Jenny know right from the start that he plans to take Austin to NYC with him and she convinces him to hold off telling Austin until they have developed some kind of relationship.
Needless to say, Austin does not react well to Jake’s appearance.  He wants nothing to do with Jake and thwarts his efforts to connect at every turn.  I think that Ms. Anderson does a great job of portraying the feelings of a young man who desperately wants a father but has been disappointed so many times that he is afraid to open his heart again.  I like the fact that neither Austin nor Jenny cut Jake any slack and make him work for both relationships.  I also appreciate that Austin is a typical teen with normal worries and not a bratty whiner.
What adds to the romantic tension is Jake’s long standing disdain for the life in Razor Bay and Jenny’s need for the roots and stability the town gives her.  Jenny is in a really difficult position, not only does she stands to lose Austin, but if she gives her heart to Jake, she knows he can’t give her the life she needs.  She also has to do everything she can to foster the relationship between father and son which just makes the situation have more potential for heartbreak.
I liked the character of Jake even though he should be a villain.  As written, it is easy to understand why he made the choices he did when Austin was born. However, he still needs to be held accountable for his lack of communication as he got older.  Jake matures emotionally in this book, with a few relapses but mostly with good results.  He has another relationship to work on with his half-brother Max and that is almost a source of comic relief in the way they resolve their issues.
Great beginning to the series and it is perfectly set up for the next book due in 2013 and featuring Max.

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