Source: supplied by publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: contemporary romance
Series: Happily Inc #3
Published by Hqn on September 18, 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org
Susan Mallery welcomes you to Happily Inc, where true love isn’t just for fairy tales…
Natalie Kaleta will do anything for the artists at her gallery, including risk life, limb and the effect of humidity on her naturally curly hair. Braving a downpour to check on reclusive Ronan Mitchell, Natalie gets stranded by a mudslide at his mountain home, where the brooding glass artist reveals his playful side, sending her inconvenient crush from under-the-radar to over-the-top.
After a secret tore apart his family and made him question his sense of self, Ronan fled his hometown for Happily Inc, but the sunny small town can’t fix his damaged heart. He won’t give in to his attraction for beautiful, perpetually cheerful Natalie. She’s untouched by darkness—or so he thinks.
Natalie knows that when a heart goes through the flame, it comes out stronger. Life may not be a fairy tale, but sometimes dreams do come true. Why not this one? Why not tonight?
Although this story, and the entire Happily Inc. series so far, are definitely contemporary romances, this entry in particular has every bit as much to do with family as it does with romance.
Not that hero Ronan Mitchell doesn’t need his family to find his HEA. Because he’s cut himself off from his brothers and his parents, and without them he can’t seem to find the inspiration he needs – and he does need it. Ronan, just like his brothers Nick and Mathias (and their piece of work father) is an internationally acclaimed artist.
Cutting himself off from the people who care about him – and who he’s currently unwilling to admit that he cares about as well, is also cutting him off from the wellspring that lets him create.
Natalie Kaleta crashes into his solitude and changes, well, everything. For the better. Not that it doesn’t take Ronan a while, a long while, to admit it.
Natalie, the office manager of the gallery where Ronan and his two artistic brothers all display their work, is also an artist herself. And she’s one of those people who cares deeply about the people in her life.
Unlike Ronan, Natalie has no surviving family-of-birth. Her father died before she was born and her mother raised her alone. They were two against the world until her mother died of cancer. But Natalie is not alone, finding herself stranded in Happily Inc. she found herself a job that gives her time to create and created a family-of-choice that sustains her.
She envies Ronan for his close-knit family, and thinks he’s a fool and an idiot for turning his back on them. And she tells him so when she gets stuck in his mountain house during a storm.
He still has a chance to mend fences with his family, fences that he tore down. His struggle is not unreasonable, but his continuing to be a butt-head about it certainly is.
Their forced proximity during the storm gives the sparks between them a chance to rise to the surface, so even though Ronan claims not to want a relationship with anyone, and Natalie is interested in finding commitment, they make a mutual decision to have fun while whatever they have lasts.
When Natalie figures out that she wants more – Ronan does what he does best these days and retreats to his castle, pulling up the figurative drawbridge behind him.
It takes some brotherly intervention to crowbar Ronan’s head out of his ass. But when he finally does, his new perspective lets him figure out what’s been right in front of him all along.
Escape Rating B: I returned to Happily Inc, in order to be taken away to a special little town populated with quirky people, based on an equally quirky PR stunt. There was no wagon train, there were no stranded brides – at least not in the 19th century.
Natalie, however, was a stranded bride in the 21st century – one who decided to make a life for herself in this little wedding destination town. She’s found a family-of-choice and a job that lets her focus on her art.
Ronan, on the other hand, came to Happily Inc. to hide away from his family in Fools’ Gold after a family mess came to light. Ronan’s father, the famous glass artist Ceallach Mitchell, revealed that Ronan was his biological son by someone other than his wife. That means that the four brothers that Ronan believed were his full brothers are only half brothers. That the brother he thought was his fraternal twin isn’t. And that the woman he believed was his mother has been lying to him all these years.
Ronan’s response is to run, hide and brood in Happily Inc. Two of his brothers, Nick and Mathias, follow him there. Their stories are marvelously told in You Say It First (Nick) and Second Chance Girl (Mathias). (As an aside, both of those titles make complete sense in the context of their stories. this one doesn’t and it’s driving me crazy.)
When Natalie gate crashes his solitude, he finally starts to realize that he needs people. She is well aware of it, but his head is too far up his fundament to see the light – figuratively and literally.
For this reader it felt like the romance took a back seat to the family drama – and that felt right. Ronan has to figure out his place in the world again, mend his fences with his family, and most importantly learn to trust himself and others again before he can even like himself enough to love someone else. Even someone has completely awesome and totally right for him as Natalie.
It’s an important part of the story that Natalie doesn’t try to “fix” Ronan, because you can’t really fix someone else’s problems. She does provide him opportunities to fix things for himself, and she does create situations where he can work on fixing things if he wants to try, but she doesn’t mend his fences for him – and she isn’t willing to settle for someone who always has one foot out the door.
And she repeatedly calls him on his bullshit – because it needs to be called.
In the end, Why Not Tonight was a heartwarming story about family, where the romantic happily ever after was the reward for the journey and not the central point of the book. I really like these people and especially this place and can’t wait to go back with Not Quite Over You.