St. Martin’s Paperbacks
February 27, 2018
Blurb: Maybe This Time is the next heartwarming contemporary romance from Nicole McLaughlin in her Whiskey and Weddings series.
Jen Mackenzie has been knocked down more than a few times, but she always gets up and makes sure she has the last word. It’s the reason she now considers herself equal parts self-sufficient and free-spirit. But since losing her job and trying to help her mother beat cancer, real life—and her occasional careless choices—have begun to catch up with her. Her one saving grace: The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s go-to wedding venue. The only catch: One of the owners, TJ Laughlin, happens to be the one man who somehow manages to make Jen feel inadequate.
TJ has secretly had a thing for Jen since high school. Now, as her new boss, it’s a daily struggle between revealing his feelings and wringing her beautiful neck. Only one thing is for certain: he can’t stand idly by and watch the woman he cares for struggle. She may be convinced that accepting TJ’s help is a weakness. But all he sees in Jen is beauty and strength, inside and out. As things finally heat up between them, can TJ find a way to convince Jen that love is about give and take—and having it all, together?
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
The first chapter of Maybe This Time opens with Jen and TJ in high school and all I could think was: I wish Nicole McLaughlin would write a YA story because she nailed the YA voice and reactions so very well. But that holds true for her adult voices as well.
While this is only the third work of McLaughlin’s I’ve read, I am already a fan of her true-to-life characters and refreshing way of dealing with conflicts and issues. She isn’t afraid to tackle some heavy-duty topics in her romances, and she does so without becoming heavy-handed. In the case of Maybe This Time, Jen’s mother has breast cancer, and Jen herself has money issues, which she is barely able to deal with.
Jen, in high school, was a theater kid, but of the goth variety and from the wrong side of the tracks. TJ was a rich nerd, but not an insufferable one. All grown up, they haven’t changed too much. Jen is tattooed and unique; TJ is successful and hard-working. And, they still secretly like each other.
Secret is probably the big word for this novel, because Jen and TJ don’t really communicate. They never have, and it’s this lack of communication that keeps them apart.
Jen can be a prickly character, especially in the opening chapters, but I found that I really liked her mainly because she seemed real. She didn’t apologize for her bitchiness, but I could understand where it came from. While I also liked TJ, he never felt as completely fleshed out as Jen. Unfortunately I couldn’t always understand why he liked Jen as much as he did, since she gave him very little reason to.
I suspect that Jen’s character could be off-putting for those who like perfect heroines. I don’t tend to because I don’t identify with them in any way. Maybe that’s why I gravitate towards McLaughlin’s heroines who definitely have issues.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Buylink: Amazon– Maybe This Time
4 butterflies out of 5