Olivia Bennett is not having a happy birthday. Instead of blowing out her twenty-nine candles, she’s stuck in jail, caught red-handed in a graffiti incident that (perhaps) involved one too many strawberry margaritas. Worst idea ever. The only bright side is that she ended up in the strong arms of the most gorgeous lawman she’s ever seen.
Pete Sampson (aka Deputy Hot Stuff) faces intense pressure from the sheriff to find out who’s behind a string of vandalisms. And after her spray-painting spree, Olivia is suspect number one. Still, Pete can’t stop thinking about her. Wanting her. Now he’s torn between his duty and his overpowering desire for the vivacious waitress. But he may have to bend the rules because true love is more important than the letter of the law…
Ever After is book 3 in Rachel Lacey’s Love to the Rescue series; however, it can be read as a standalone. It is a very sweet, well written, contemporary romance set in small town North Carolina. I love small town romances with their interesting mix of quirky characters and fun goings on. However, I’m not a sweet kind of gal. I like my romances down and dirty with lots of the same in regard to the sex on the page. And, shame on me, I have also been known to judge a book by its cover. The cover of Ever After is…sweet. However, the hot guy and the dog on the cover roped me in, because guys who love dogs are just that much hotter, right? So I gave myself a lecture to stop with the judging and eye rolling before I’ve even read a chapter. And I’m glad I did because I truly enjoyed this book.
Olivia Bennett isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. Her parents, prominent attorneys, expect Olivia to follow in their footsteps. She has two years of law school under her belt. Admittedly, she’s a natural at it, but the thought of practicing law makes her cringe. It really isn’t her “thing” so she’s taking a break to figure out just what her “thing” is. Olivia’s true passion is animal rights and for the past year she’s gone on a crusade to close down Halverson Foods, a local chicken processing plant. She writes a blog and has a Facebook page viewed by thousands, documenting the abusive conditions at the plant. At this point, I’ll admit I started to step back. This particular subject matter in a romance book? But I kicked the judgment aside because I was liking Olivia. She’s not a goody two shoes by any stretch and she’s not a fanatic. She speaks her mind but doesn’t force her opinions on anyone else. She’s a vegetarian but hey, she won’t condemn you if you are a carnivore. She organizes peaceful protests, hands out pamphlets, and writes intelligent posts on the subject. However, her efforts to enlighten the Halverson big wigs about the conditions at the plant repeatedly fail. So after celebrating her 29th birthday with a couple friends and imbibing in one margarita too many, Olivia goes a bit too far in her activist efforts.
When Deputy Pete Sampson comes across a teenager spray painting graffiti on the side of the Halverson Plant he’s mostly annoyed. However, when he discovers the teenager is a very attractive woman who’s clearly indulging in a drunken prank, he’s pissed. Since Olivia’s friends have run off, he assumes she is not only defacing property but also driving while under the influence. A drunken driving incident he feels responsible for has caused Pete some demons he can’t let go of. Even though he finds her cute as hell, duty prevails. Once Olivia is sentenced to community service Pete finds reasons to check up on her. All the while telling himself it’s just his duty. Which is a load of baloney because he knows were it not for him being the arresting officer; he’d totally be asking her out. Pete is adorable while at the same time frustrating as hell. He flirts with Olivia, admits he’s attracted to her, but then comes to his senses since it’s a huge conflict of interest, and pushes her away. Except when he’s kissing her. And that seems to happen a lot. When vandals begin painting nasty slogans on her car and house, it only draws Pete closer to Olivia. He wants to protect her. Pete is a good guy. He adopted a German Shepard that failed the K-9 program, he takes care of his mom, he bakes muffins when he can’t sleep and donates them to the women’s shelter. He’s also very hot.
As the vandalism events toward Olivia escalate, so does the romance between Pete and Olivia. Pete uncovers startling information surrounding the Halverson plant and the vandalism directed at Olivia, which only makes him more protective of her. The suspense adds a lot to the story and even though it’s not too hard to figure out, I still enjoyed it. Ms. Lacey has done a fine job with Pete and Olivia’s relationship as well. I thought it might turn into a sappy story but I found myself really liking the slow build, the courtship, the care Olivia and Pete take getting to know one another. There really is something to be said for a nice sweet romance. And just so you aren’t too disappointed, there’s some pretty hot sex as well.