Maeve Murphy finds herself back in Kingsford after her mother’s death. Her father needs help keeping his bar in business. She’s staying just long enough to do her part and then she is heading back to New York City to resume her photography career. Bianca Rossi is a receptionist at the vet clinic and works at Murph’s Bar. She loves everything about Kingsford and everyone in the town loves her. Bianca always has a positive attitude and a smile. Everyone wants to be her friend, everyone but Maeve. Bianca doesn’t understand the attractive, aloof woman. After extending the friendship branch on more than one occasion, Maeve finally accepts. Friendship leads to someone more. Will Bianca have her heart broken when Maeve returns to the city? Will Bianca cuff her to the bed so she can’t leave?
This book is not at all what I thought it would be about when I saw the title. I thought Monica McCallan had decided to have a go at writing erotica. But, no such luck, cuffing season occurs when the weather gets chilly and short term relationships are formed to help pass the time during the cold. I am a serious Monica McCallan devotee. Her books always make me smile and bring characters into my life that I wish were real so I could befriend them or cuff them, whichever they are agreeable to. 😉
When a character returns to their hometown they usually find that what kept them away isn’t as important as what brings them back. Maeve didn’t want to return to Kingsford but her mother’s sudden death changes Maeve’s plans. She left to live a bigger life and to escape her father’s disapproval of her career. Maeve is a complex character. She doesn’t really have friends and is fine being on her own, at least she’s trying to convince herself she is. You can’t be hurt if you build a wall around your heart. Bianca is all sunshine and sappy Christmas movies. She loves her town and the people in it. She “sees” Maeve more than anyone else. She looks beneath the surface to the vulnerable woman Maeve tries so hard to hide. Where others look at Maeve and see someone who is standoffish, Bianca can see the sadness that consumes Maeve. Sadness at the loss of her mother and sadness at the loss of the life she left behind and the life she feels stuck in.
Bianca is Maeve’s equal. She may seem more emotionally available because on the surface she is but when you look closer, she brings out in Maeve the feelings she has but tries so hard to repress. Maeve can’t help but to open up and let Bianca in because she needs someone regardless of how hard she tries to pretend she doesn’t and Bianca knows Maeve is the one meant for her and who will kill all the spiders.
When I think I can’t possibly love Monica McCallan mores as a writer, she says, “hold my tiny dog whilst I make some word magic” Not only has she created two more beautiful, nuanced characters in Bianca and Maeve but she brings back Quinn and Sawyer from Back in Your Arms and I couldn’t be more thrilled to catch up with them. This is the perfect book to sit in front of the fireplace and enjoy with a piping cup of hot cocoa and those annoyingly cheerful Christmas songs playing in the background.