By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
Before writing this review, I went through my shelf list as I always do, but apart from the uber-general subgenre "Contemporary Romance", this book defies all of the tropes by which I catalog my collection. It's sort of an opposites attract story, but not really, because the characters don't fight or snipe at each other to build sexual tension. It's peripherally a part of a family saga, except having finally run out of Kowalski siblings to marry off, Shannon Stacey has turned her focus on the other residents of tiny Whitford, Maine. A lot of people write twee small town romances (what Jane Litte at Dear Author calls "Adirondack Chair" romances, due to their tendency to feature adirondack chairs on the book covers), but Stacey's stories are more authentic: her settings are not glamorous resort communities like Kristan Higgins' Manningsport, but slow-moving, backwater places where ordinary people work ordinary jobs and live ordinary lives. Likewise, Stacey doesn't jam her stories into plot-boxes of familiar tropes, but just writes about ordinary people falling in love in ordinary ways. Maybe that sounds boring, but I find it very refreshing and very authentic.
Hailey Genest is the town librarian. She appreciates the finer things in life--well-groomed men, fancy restaurants, a trip to the big city--but she's also a home town girl who loves her little library and the people who frequent it. Matt Barnett is the new-to-town Game Warden. He is outdoorsy (and hence not always well-groomed) and happiest out in the woods with his dog, and he's just rented the house next door to Hailey. Matt's been burned before by women who want to clean him up, sand down his rough edges, and turn him into something else. He sees the polished and sophisticated Hailey, and she sees the burly, unshaven mountain man, and each thinks, "Not my type." -Except they can't ignore their mutual attraction, so they mutually agree upon a fling with no expectations, but then they can't ignore their developing feelings... and so they fall in love, without complicated plot twists or any other sort of artifice.