Sometimes life calls for a sweet, feel-good romance novel. Crescent Hill fits the bill perfectly. Overall, it’s warm and entertaining. It has some wonderful characters and a decent dose of real-life emotions, like doubt and jealousy, without going to extremes.
It begins with London’s most sought after bachelor/serious businessman Roman Finnegan flying in to the States to bring the Crescent Hill Lodge back to life, pro bono. His first order of business, after taking in the deplorable conditions of the inn, is to notice and long for the lovely and enticing Maggie. That first encounter was typical romance lust-at-first sight, but I soon found that he is much more complex than that moment led me to believe. He’s part fiery Chef Ramsey and part perfect book-boyfriend. He’s also stubborn and determined to find out all he can about Maggie, almost to the point of being intrusive. That’s part of what I love the most, though. While he is desperate to break her out of her shell, he is still respectful and backs off when need be. He doesn’t go on and on about how he must “own” her; it is an honest desire to be with her.
Maggie Summers, on the other hand, had to grow on me. The first portion of the book is written from Roman’s perspective, so I couldn’t really understand why he is so drawn to her. A little Maggie background: she has two boys from two different fathers, each of which bailed the second the kid popped out; she lives in a small town where she is deemed the town whore; to describe her family as difficult is an understatement; her lack of self-worth is backed by years of abandonment and mistreatment, so it’s not unwarranted. None of that matters to him, though, which only serves to makes him more likeable. In the beginning she comes across as semi-aloof and withdrawn. At the same time, she yearns for him, but won’t act upon her growing feelings. Her refusal to listen to him was at times aggravating. It wasn’t until the second half, told from her perspective, that I began to like her. Inside her head, I could really sense how alone she feels and how dedicated she is to her children. It was a nice change-up from Roman’s view of a sexy mama who reminded him of his own mother, a determined woman who had raised her two children by herself, struggling every step of the way, but determined to provide for them no matter what it took. By the end of the book, I liked Maggie almost as much as Roman.
The Summers’ family dynamic is unlike anything I’ve read before. After suffering a devastating loss, each member is trying to cope in different ways. Maggie’s mother goes back and forth between resenting the changes Roman demands, as an extremely successful hotel owner and renovator, and crying over how grateful she is. Her character flip-flops enough that I never knew what to expect and I’m torn as to how I feel about her. Maggie’s father is like a bear, broken and obstinately lashing out, not knowing how to express his feelings. Maggie herself, is drowning in guilt and sorrow. Her brother doesn’t get much action and didn’t leave much of an impression, but her Grammy is delightful. The old woman who lives in the woods, because she doesn’t want to be around the family, is entertaining and quirky. I only wish I’d seen more of her. Maggie’s children are a riot and I loved them from the start. They are sweeter and more well-behaved than any of the kids I know in real life. Greg and Jason are an integral part to the story and add levity to what could have been a darker book.
The story has some really poignant moments that I appreciated, such as when Maggie tries to brush Roman off with the excuse of her crazy family. He tells her that there is no such thing as normal when it comes to family. That is an accurate and insightful statement that resonates with all readers. The most engaging emotional factor for me, is the reluctance the family had to renovating the inn that had been in the family for generations. They knew it had to be done to be successful, but they resisted and feared the change. Their desire to fall back on what was an unhealthy, but known, certainty is something every human can relate to. The entire novel is about change and how it is scary, but necessary and worth it in the end. One must simply get over the hump, knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel. Not only is this a lovely romance, but it has a hidden lesson in it, too.
Now, for my rating:
- Genre and general reading age – definitely a romance for adults.
- The level of sexuality – there were a few steamy moments with some delectable details.
- Was there graphic language? Not that much, which is ironic, because Maggie stated that she swears like a sailor. It was a relief to not be bombarded with swear words and tasteless sexual references to nether regions.
- Did I cry? I did not.
- Is this part of a series? This is a standalone.
- Level of character development – Roman and Maggie are well-developed. With the exception of her boys, the side characters are not as deep. I got an overall vibe, but not a lot to go on. The book isn’t about them, though; the focus is Roman and Maggie, who are artfully done.
- Did I laugh? There were more than a few chuckle-worthy moments that I enjoyed.
From start to finish, I loved the story. For me, it was all about Roman. He has everything a woman could ask for and is the perfect gentleman, which is harder to find in an ever-increasing sea of MC-MMA-bad boy-alpha-billionaire heroes. I give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stars. I highly suggest it to every reader who wants to escape into a beautifully written romance.