Review: “Love Restored” by Carrie Ann Ryan

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Carrie Ann Ryan has a new series – a spin-off from her Montgomery Ink series – Gallagher Brothers.  This family is much smaller than the Montgomery tribe only 4 brothers.  However this series is only going to focus on three of the brothers since the fourth brother’s romance was part of the Montgomery Ink series.  “Love Restored” focuses on the broody, grumpy, and very Alpha oldest brother Graham Gallagher.  His world crashed around him about five years ago and he’s been living a half life ever since.  Though he is the glue for his brothers – even though each of them plays a distinct role in their family – they all gravitate to Graham’s house for guy’s night and he worries about them when he feels as though there is something that they aren’t sharing, they follow his lead.  The Heroine is Blake, a complex character who when we meet her is an opinionated stuffed shirt but we quickly find out that in reality she’s extremely down to earth and working as a tattoo artist and piercer at Montgomery Ink.  Graham and Blake’s Meet-Cute isn’t.  They clash like peanut butter and mayonnaise.  But the house that Gallagher Brothers is restoring is Blake’s childhood home and what the boys don’t realize is that it has horrible memories for her.  Also the fact that she’s involved with the house in anyway at all puts a precious secret of hers in danger.  Graham also is pre-occupied because this month is the anniversary of a devastating event in his life and every year it takes it’s toll on him.  But as much as Graham and Blake’s personalities antagonize each other they cannot stop thinking about the attraction they feel for the other.

The Gallagher Brothers have the opportunity for having a major business breakthrough with this new project.  It’s a huge restoration project that if done right – which is what they do – will change things from them looking for business to business looking for them.  The three brothers – Murphy the Architect, Owen the Business Manager, and Graham the Foreman own the business along with their brother Jake who is more of a carpentry consultant.  When they meet with the woman who is the executor of the estate she and Graham have a mutual and public personality disorder – extreme antagonism.  Graham is disgusted by the fact that the owners of this grand old home would allow it get into this level of disrepair.  Blake wishes she could be anywhere but there.  Due to legalities and lawyers it is her duty to show up and that’s the last time she plans on setting foot on the property.  And the last time she will see that arrogant Graham Gallagher.  Unfortunately Fate has other plans – a few other plans.  Graham goes with his little brother Murphy for a piercing in a “delicate” location and finds that Blake works at their brother’s girlfriend’s family tattoo shop.  Again, Graham is not on his best behavior.  And again at a hockey game – things are less than cordial – except for the viral Kiss Cam incident.  But when Blake and Graham literally run into each other at the grocery store they end up on an impromptu date outside the of the building eating their prepared food and talking.  It leads to a melting kiss and a promise of a proper date.  Graham and Blake’s courtship moves along rather quickly.  Graham tells Blake about the tragedy of losing his daughter to leukemia and that she’d be 10 years old now.  He confesses that he misses her everyday and this is the anniversary month of her passing.

Blake is holding on to a secret that she never shares because it poses a danger but she ends up telling Maya Montgomery – the woman who works at her brother’s Tattoo shop with Blake and is in a relationship with Graham’s brother.  She urges Blake to tell Graham her secret – because between the Montgomery’s and the Gallagher’s she’s not alone anymore.  But Blake hems and haws and when she finally finds the right time to tell Graham he blows up and does not take it well.  He doesn’t allow Blake to explain why she’s kept the fact that she has a daughter a secret.  Graham jumps to the conclusion at first that Blake is ashamed of her daughter, then when Blake clears that up, he reasons that she must not think he’s fit for her daughter to meet.  Again Blake assures him that’s not the reason either.  But before Blake can explain the secrecy she mentions that her daughter is 10 years old and Graham loses it completely and demands that Blake get out of his house and not come back.  Graham is utterly freaked out about the unfairness that Blake has a daughter that is the same age his daughter would have been and she’s hiding her away when all he can think about are all of the milestones that he will never get to experience with his own daughter.  He isn’t sure he can have a relationship with Blake because whenever he sees her daughter he is going to be tormented by thoughts and memories of his lost little girl.  But Blake’s fears are realized when she is served a summons at Montgomery Ink and almost passes out.  Maya goes into emergency mode and calls Graham who arrives immediately and gathers Blake into his arms and assures her that he’s going to fix this.  Maya arranges for Murphy and Owen to pick up the authorized pick-up person and get Blake’s daughter from school and they all gather at Graham’s house to plan their next course of action.  Blake’s daughter, Rowan, is immediately drawn to and likes Graham and he doesn’t know how he feels about that.  He likes the child but he’s not all that comfortable at the thought, yet Blake is important to him and he wants her in his life so he’s got to figure it out.  Blake realizes that she’s fallen in love with Graham but he only is saying that he cares about her and she realizes that not only does she need to protect her own heart but Rowan’s as well.  Then Blake’s worst extreme nightmare comes to pass and she realizes that she needs to drop back to square one and just rely on herself and Rowan and be a team of just the two of them again.

I really like Carrie Ann Ryan’s Contemporary Romances, they are sexy, fun and the family slant to them just adds to the appeal.  At least for me.  In “Love Restored” Graham is such a great Hero because he starts off in such at grumpy and damaged place then you can see his development into a completely lighter and more content version of himself – the character development is strong with this one.  Blake’s character is more in flux because she wants to continue to be her insulated and safe environment of her own making but when she meets Graham she suddenly has this need for more.  She is constantly weighing the value of her joy with Graham versus the need for the safety of her child.  Her heart and head are constantly at war.  The window into the other two Gallagher brothers is amazing, we get a pretty good snapshot into their personalities and a tantalizing tease of a possible mystery that Owen may be keeping to urge you to snatch up the second book in the series.  The storyline in “Love Restored” is interesting and it moves along at a quick pace.  Like I said the book is sexy – but it doesn’t have a lot of sex in it – but our Hero – Graham is a wonderful dirty talker.  My favorite!!!

I’m giving “Love Restored” 4 Lighting Bolts and a Gale Warning.

 

This book was provided in exchange for an unbiased review.

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