Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
I have been “all in” with the Dawson Family since Side Hustle, the third book of Emily Goodwin’s Dawson Family series. I think it has to do with the fact that there seems to something for everyone here: enemies-to-lovers, brother’s best friend, second chance, etc. For each family member of the Dawson family, there is a guaranteed story that will melt your heart, pull at your heartstrings, and leave you on a happy ending.
Emily Goodwin’s newest book (and I believe the last one) in this series, Rock Bottom, is no different. In her acknowledgments, Goodwin noted that she almost didn’t write Dean’s story. Thankfully, her readers influenced her decision to write a story that would give us a little bit of each family member. Thank goodness, she did because Dean and Rory’s story is, by far, my favorite Dawson story.
Rock Bottom asks some important questions: what do you do when your dreams are over? How much effort should you put into your relationships? Is there something more than you ever imagined? Can a one-night stand become a relationship? In the world of romance, these seem like your standard fodder, and Rory and Dean’s story does a good job of answering those questions.
From the first book of this series, it’s clear that the Dawson Family isn’t a fan of Dean’s wife, Kara. The Dawsons are a close-knit family with weekly dinners. Everyone is involved in everyone else’s business. What happens, though, when your wife cannot connect with your family? How much effort should you put into a marriage that seems to be crumbling? Once Dean decides the answer to this, he is met with a devastating situation. Months later, Dean has given up on relationships, sinking himself into one-night stands. Unfortunately, Dean isn’t the type of guy who can one-night stand for the rest of his life. He is a relationship guy. However, it’s easier for him, so he lives a lie. Enter Rory. After a lost job, break up with her boyfriend, and need for a change, Rory leaves the city of her birth for a new start in Dean’s town. They meet at a bar and decide on one night together. Yet, they connect instantly, and neither of them can stay away from each other for long. As they struggle with their attraction and growing feelings, both of them must decide if the risk of a future is worth potential heartbreak.
One of the reasons Dean’s story is my favorite is its cohesion. In the other Dawson family books, there were moments when the story struggled along. With Dean and Rory, Goodwin crafts this seamless romance that builds as the pages turn. At no point, did I want to stop reading it, instead gobbling her words on the page. Goodwin’s ability to bring her hero and heroine together and pull them apart fluidly grows the story as the story progresses.
Their chemistry is clear from the start. It’s apparent that there is an ease to this coupling. It’s that ease that Dean fights initially while Rory complicates it with an assumed alias. I thought Dean overreacted when Rory’s real identity is revealed. Yet, Goodwin recognizes Dean’s overreaction through the words of his siblings and best friends. Therefore, Dean doesn’t hold it against Rory for long, which allows their chemistry to build instead of peter out.
As Dean and Rory grow closer, Goodwin easily constructs their relationship. When complications arise, thankfully, Goodwin doesn’t allow it to drag on for chapters. Instead, the Dawsons do what they do best: hold each other accountable and push each other to rectify the situation. I think this is the other reason I loved their Dean and Rory’s story the best. Their struggle manifested in the growth of their individual characters, but it didn’t hinder the growth of their relationship for too long.
Lastly, their happy ending is one of the sweetest. For much of the book, Dean’s walls remain intact, so it’s difficult to see the sweet man behind them. As Rory breaks them down, we see more than the broken man who uses sarcasm, $ex, and snark to protect his heart. When the walls fall, Goodwin gifts us with a sweet, compassionate man who adores and falls madly in love with Rory. Their epilogue is one of my favorites as it offers a simplistic, but deep abiding love between the two.
From its start, I couldn’t put Rock Bottom down. I am so thankful that Emily Goodwin listened to her readers and created a story of finding love after devastation. Thankfully, Dean found his true happy ending in Rory because Kara was never right for him or the Dawson Family. If you are a fan of heroes made whole through the love of a heroine, then you will love Dean and Rory in Emily Goodwin’s Rock Bottom.
In love and romance,