With the magical and flowery prose that is the signature of Center, this book explores relationships, love, loss, honesty, grief and self-discovery. Samantha Casey fled California from a love interest that didn’t reciprocate and ended up in Galveston, Texas. She is the librarian at a small private school there and is loving it. Max Kempner, the co-founder and principal of the Kempner School, encouraged curiosity, investigation and artistic freedom there, and Sam is in her element. When Max suddenly dies, everyone is grieving but determined to find a good principal to carry on his legacy. When Duncan Carpenter arrives, Sam remembers him from California and expects him to be fun and charismatic, much like Max. But Duncan seems to be the antithesis of Max, demanding changes in the entire atmosphere and physical appearance of the school, all in the name of safety and security. Although Sam knew Duncan in California, she was not at all ready for this new form of him who has lost his hope and love of life. The scene is thus set for conflict, lots of emotions and plenty of cheering for one side or the other. Should Duncan be fired or should he be allowed to continue his reign at Kempner? As a former teacher and a rules person, I was kind of on Duncan’s side, but I did think he went too far in some of his demands and was expecting an explosive reaction from the faculty who were all more used to laid-back Max. Duncan seemed determined to get rid of freedom of expression at the school, and Sam was equally determined to save it. I really liked both characters, because Center is a master at strong characterization, creating a siren’s call for me to an emotional connection with her characters. I think that this book had a slower start for me that her other books, but about a third of the way into the book, I was captured and the magnetic pull of the charm and intrigue in the book just wouldn’t let go until I had finished it. Fans of Center will really love this book and I encourage fans of romance with multiple themes interwoven to try it. I love to feel happy after I read a book, and that is always how I feel after a Center book. This one also made me think about what I really want in life and what I am willing to do to grab it.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
Available on July 14, 2020, but you can pre-order it now. Purchase links: