|The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts
What happens? Ryder and Hope already shared a hot kiss during New Year's Eve, but returned to their usual relationship of avoiding each other and bickering when they are in each other's company. That is until Hope's old boyfriend/boss shows up and proceeds to make an indecent proposal. Ryder just happens to be passing by and Hope grabs him and plants a kiss on him to make a point. That kiss ups the ante between the two of them and soon after they decide to have an affair. An affair that to both of them is just simply about sex until Hope realizes that her feelings are involved and as much as he hates to admit it, Ryder comes to the realization that there is such a thing as the perfect Hope for him.
There is much that happens while this romance is developed, though. The whole family gets involved in the search for the resident ghost's lover, Billy. Lizzy, the ghost, makes appearances and is again used as a device to further the romance between Ryder and Hope. Clare and Avery, Owen and Becket, the children, Justine and Willie B, their dogs and extended family, all play important roles and their own stories are expanded throughout this book. And of course the running of Inn Boonsboro by Hope, and the construction and revitalization of Boons Boro done by the Montgomery family continues so that there are plenty of minute details given about both.
There is nothing complex about this romance, the conflicts are simple enough. They are basically about learning how to negotiate personality differences between the protagonists, resolving past mistakes, and coming to terms with the past. All of those conflicts are resolved in a relatively simple and easy way, either by Ryder and Hope coming to their own conclusions, or more often by committee -- meaning that they both seek advice from the whole family, and listen to their wise and knowledgeable family members and/or friends.
Both Hope and Ryder are likable characters. What is there not to like? Ryder is rough and outspoken on the outside and a marshmallow on the inside. I like that he is a straight talker and displays his flaws to Hope from the beginning. He can't deal with women's tears and sends flowers instead. . . that's about as bad as the man gets, but Hope deals with that quickly enough. Hope is also a likable woman --hardworking (to the point of being a workaholic, but aren't they all?), gorgeous, and also a straight shooter, but not perfect. She is also vulnerable and her insecurities show. I like the way she approaches Ryder first and blows his mind -- that is worth waiting for...
The first two-thirds of the book are taken up with those details I mention above, the running of the Inn takes a lot of page time, as does the construction. This is the beginning of the romance between Ryder and Hope, and except for the first time the two "hook up," the rest of their relationship is told, not really shown. We get an overview of how the relationship develops while getting lots of details about daily life in the Inn and interactions between all the other family members and the work being done all around town on a daily basis. *shrug* My personal note around this point in the story reflects my feelings: "[...]these people are so constantly busy working, and all of it is so minutely described that by the time I finish each chapter, I'm exhausted!" And that's the truth!
The last third of the book is the best in my opinion. This is where Ryder and Hope's love for each other, their feelings and real emotions, are finally "shown" to the reader. The story about Lizzy and Billy is quite nice... I enjoyed how it all makes sense and its conclusion. And as the final installment of a trilogy, The Perfect Hope really rounds off the lives of all the characters involved rather well. The epilogue gives the readers a sense that the circle is closed and Ryder and Hope's romance and this trilogy end on the right note.
In the end, I liked The Perfect Hope a bit more than the first two installments. That has a lot to do with Roberts' all-around likable characters -- central and secondary, how she works the romance during the last third of the book, and the fact that it really serves as a great ending to this rather average contemporary romance trilogy.
Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Inn BoonsBoro
Publisher/Release Date: Berkeley/November 6, 2012
Visit Nora Roberts here.
The Next Always, #1
The Last Boyfriend, #2
The Perfect Hope, #3