After a scandal torches her career, hotelier Sophie Carlisle vows to rise from the ashes. She pours her all into turning a run-down house in Austin, Texas, into a fabulous boutique hotel. Now, with the opening mere weeks away, Sophie is running out of both time and money!
So when Cade MacAllister swoops in and offers to help, it seems like a godsend. And yet Sophie is leery. Why would Cade, a hotshot adventure photographer, want to spend his days swinging a hammer for her? Sophie has learned the hard way that everything has a price—especially trust.
With so much on the line, can she risk her career—and her heart—on a wanderer with secrets?
And here is Jennifer's review:
I was really intrigued with the premise of putting an independent entrepreneur heroine, Sophie, with Cade, a solitary adventure photographer. This story opens with a tragic climbing accident that results in the death of Cade's best friend and travel partner. Cade himself is severely injured and still recovering months later.
Cade's main struggle throughout the book isn't his injuries or his grief about his friend (although that is part of it) but his new phobia of cameras. He expresses over, and over, and over, and over, his anxiety that he cannot recapture the artistic eye that made him a success in his field. I found this a little repetitive and annoying since he doesn't even pick up a camera. How does our hero know he has lost his gift? He just knows! The mystical woo-woo feelings are just gone! He describes it in chapter seven:
“A tiny prickle at the back of his neck had Cade freezing in place, caught by hope. He knew that feeling. Oh, God, he missed it. He remained still, praying for the return of the signal, the fire that had formed his life. After an endless span, he had to accept that it was gone, and he mourned it afresh.” (pg 102)
Cade's attitude really ignores the fact that creating art is as much craft that can be learned as an artistic vision. It's as if he can never take a good picture if his neck doesn't tingle. And he doesn't even try! It would be one thing if he had decided after his accident that he didn't WANT to take pictures but he clearly desires it. He just refuses to do anything about it except wait for the tingles to come back. And mope about it. The moping is really epic.
So in the midst of all Cade's whiny self pity his sister decides to introduce him to her friend Sophie, who has come to Austin to rehab an old mansion and turn it into a small high end hotel. She has made this decision because her ex-boyfriend framed her for embezzlement at her previous job. Instead of holding her ground and risking dragging her company and her boss, who she greatly admires, through the pain of an investigation Sophie decided to change courses and strike out on her own.
I really admired Sophie because I think the easier more selfish decision would have been to call out her ex-boyfriend. The most likely outcome would have been exoneration for her, but at the cost of hurting other people she cared about. I think it takes courage to start a risky new venture like Sophie is trying to undertake. She is clearly stressed about her new project but she is depicted as being a very competent and hard worker.
She is friends with Cade's sister, who wants Cade to sell Sophie pictures to hang in her new hotel. Cade assumes Sophie must be a manipulator who is taking advantage of his sister before he even meets her. Cade and Sophie are supposed to meet at his sister's house party, but on the walk to the party Sophie stumbles on an injured stray dog. Just then Cade conveniently decides to take a walk and encounters Sophie and Mr. Plot Moppet. The following conversation ensues:
Sophie: “I considered calling nine-one-one, but I doubt they'd appreciate it, and anyway, I don't want him to get taken to a shelter.”
Cade: “But he's not yours, you said.”
“He's hurt and scared. He needs me.”
“He doesn't know you.”
She frowned. “That doesn't matter. He's alone.” She gave him a look that had always sent her employees scurrying. “Never mind. I'll handle this. There's no need for you to hang around,” she said in her frostiest voice. “Don't let me inconvenience you further…I'll stay here and deal with it. You go on.”
“Well, now, like it up on that high horse, Queenie?”
Her eyes went to slits. “Don't call me that.”
“Then don't dismiss me like some peon.” (pg 45)
I really could not like Cade after this. Between his incessant self pitying inner monologues and his calling the heroine names just to be insulting, he could not be redeemed in my eyes. “Queenie” is diminutive and Cade meant it to be condescending. To make matters worse he calls her that THROUGH THE ENTIRE BOOK. Despite her repeated objections. Every time I would talk myself into ignoring it he would do it again!
This pretty much encompasses his attitude toward women. Both Sophie and his sister's wishes and concerns are dismissed. Sophie tells him repeatedly to leave her alone and yet he shows up at her hotel and refuses to leave. He helps her construction crew and justifies ignoring the words that come out of her mouth, because he is HELPING and he knows what is best for her.
It is probably a testament to the writing quality that I hated Cade so much. He wasn't a boring cardboard character; he was an arrogant, insulting, whiny dickhead. While I fully enjoy an arrogant dickhead hero in the proper context it really didn't work for me here. I wanted a better partner for Sophie. Unfortunately, actively hating one of the parts of a romance makes it really hard to become emotionally invested in the development of that romance. Every time Sophie would admire Cade's smile or shirtless chest I was cringing inside and pleading with her in my head: “But he's such a loser! Look at the way he treats you! Next time you tell him to go away back it up with a call to 911!”
While I wouldn't recommend this book, I think this author would be worth trying again. If I you don't share my opinion that Cade's character is indefensible then I suggest starting this book at chapter nine. You'll miss most of the pity party but get the actual plot advancement and romance development. The sub-plots of Cade's camera phobia and Sophie's evil ex-boyfriend are both dealt with believably and I felt the ending had a realistic compromise between two such independent people. Cade's family was delightful and I understand that they have their own books, though I haven't read them. As for a grade, it probably would have been a DNF if I hadn't signed up to do a review. But since I did finish it and I really liked Sophie I would give it a C.