Lauren Blakely is my feel-good romance savior. See, I love angsty romance stories, but they get to me. Like really get to me. Thus, when I am reading one that hits me straight in the gut, and it’s a bit too much for me to take at the time (yes, I take my romance reading seriously – escapist here), I start reading something a little more light-hearted. Lauren Blakely is my usual go-to-girl for something a bit lighter.
Her new book, Once Upon a Real Good Time, does not disappoint in the light-hearted feels department. The story revolves around Mackenzie, a single mom to Kyle, and Campbell Hart, a rocker, former boy trio heartthrob Mason Hart, and single dad to Samantha. Mackenzie spies Campbell at a local bar where she is the trivia queen. Immediately, she is drawn to his good looks and his charm. They meet a few nights later at the same bar and end it between the sheets. Having an instant rapport, what is seemingly a one-night stand becomes the potential for more. Unfortunately, a few days later, Campbell unexpectedly shows up as Mackenzie’s son’s violin teacher. Being a most responsible single mom, Mackenzie decides to forgo a dating relationship with Campbell to protect the interests of her son. Then, the fun of the story begins as we realize Campbell and Mackenzie are tethered together in a steamy chemistry. What’s a mom to do in this situation? Read the story to find out.
Blakely’s characters do what I expect them to do: make me laugh out loud and feel good about romance. To me, that’s the genius with Blakely’s form of romance writing. Yes, she creates sexual chemistry between her characters, but, unless it’s an enemies-to-lovers-type of story, she creates emotional and spiritual chemistry too. For this book, I enjoyed Mackenzie and Campbell’s rapport as much as their bedroom shenanigans. These characters are believable, and you root for them from the outset of her story. Even more, you fall in love with them, so that her epilogue becomes a vital piece of story, wanting to see life after the character’s HEA.
A story is always important to any book. I wear Blakely’s stories like a warm blanket. Like I wrote earlier, I sometimes need relief from heavier romance stories. Blakely’s stories provide that break. This isn’t to say that her stories aren’t without angst, but she doesn’t prolong it as some authors do. In the story of this book, there are moments of doubt and worry and sadness, but Blakely deftly allows us to feel it and move forward. We aren’t left to torture our souls by the trials of the main characters. I gave her story four stars because there is a familiarity to her story with other romance stories, but creating a focus on single parenthood gives it a slant that is different from the typical rocker and girl/woman trope.
Sexiness Quotient: 💙💙💙💙💙
Ummm…Campbell is sexy. Like really, really sexy. He loves to talk dirty, and it raises the temperature of the book, along with his sexual chemistry with Mackenzie. No surface is off limits for sex in this story: kitchen, bedroom, back office of a local coffee shop…Yep, anywhere is game for these two characters.
Blakely’s stories are meant to connect you easily to the characters and stories. She doesn’t draw out comparisons, and she keeps it light. The rom-com variety is her speed, and it works.
Humor, wit, and a balance between a little strife and an HEA are Lauren Blakely’s wheel-house in the romance world. And I am thankful for a writer like her who provides the much-needed shade in the sunshine and heat of more serious, angsty romances. This book was the right amount of shade for this reader. I can’t wait for the next book in this series: Once Upon a Sure Thing. More Hart men to go around.
In love and romance,