Title: The Bottom Line by Sandy James
The Ladies Who Lunch Series Book One
Publisher: Forever Yours
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. Surviving a failed marriage and an illness that almost takes her life, high school teacher Mallory Hamilton needs the Ladies Who Lunch more than ever . . .
After a year of upheaval, Mallory has had her fill of change–with one exception. Her house is a disaster, and she wants it fixed. Hiring a contractor to finish the projects her ex-husband started will help her banish the past so she can return to the life she had before everything went awry. But her contractor is sexy, sweet, and single which threatens the peaceful, solitary life Mallory has planned for herself.
Ben Carpenter has had a hard time raising his daughter without his ex-wife’s help. His new client’s projects will give him the extra income he needs, not to mention afternoons alone with a gorgeous woman. Though their attraction is undeniable, Ben sees the fear and pain hiding in Mallory’s beautiful eyes. But how can he help her if she won’t let him in? Ben can fix about anything, but can he fix Mallory’s broken heart?
The Bottom Line is an extremely heartwarming and sometimes poignant second chance at love novel. In this first installment of Sandy James’ The Ladies Who Lunch series starring four close friends who support one another through all of life’s ups and downs, Mallory Hamilton unexpectedly finds love with Ben Carpenter, the contractor she hires to complete some renovations on her house.
Getting her life back on track after a difficult year, Mallory is determined to finish some long overdue projects around the house but she is not exactly a handywoman. Recommended by a mutual acquaintance, she hires Ben, a single dad who is struggling to get back on his feet financially while raising his daughter Amber. Mallory and Ben are surprised by their mutual attraction but über private Mallory is keeping a secret that might be a deal breaker for their burgeoning romance.
Mallory and Ben’s relationship slowly transforms from friends to lovers. Ben is very open about his personal life and his primary concern is for Amber, and what impact a romance with Mallory will have on her. Mallory and Ben both agree to always be honest with each other, but Mallory is a very private person and revealing her past takes time and patience. Once all of their issues are finally out in the open, the progression of their relationship is fairly smooth with only a few bumps along the way. However a major crisis brings all of their hidden fears to the surface and a misunderstanding threatens their future.
Mallory and Ben’s relationship is very sweet but there is also an incredible amount of chemistry between them. They take their time getting to know each other and their honesty about their hopes and fears is very refreshing. The care that Ben takes when to introducing Amber to Mallory reinforces all of the things that make him such a warm and caring man. Mallory and Amber connect through shared interests and they soon form a close bond.
The conflict between Mallory and Ben comes as a shock given how supportive Ben has been. A major misunderstanding tears them apart and Mallory’s close friends, Jules, Dani and Beth quickly close ranks around her. While their hearts are in the right place, this over protectiveness creates even more tension between Mallory and Ben but help for the estranged couple arrives from a very surprising source and Ben pulls out all the stops to win her back.
The Bottom Line has an endearing storyline and a lovely cast of charming characters. All of the relationships and issues are realistically depicted and the plot is refreshingly unique. An enjoyable introduction to Sandy James’ The Ladies Who Lunch series that is sure to be enjoyed by fans of contemporary romances.