Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
What do you get when the owner of a beachfront home in the Hamptons shows up and finds a woman in his house who is cleaning it up like it was a party house? A story that at first glance seems all fireworks. However, as you delve deeper into its pages, you find a story about a man trying to transcend his past at any cost, even at the cost of his soulmate.
Hamptons Heartbreak is quintessential Tara Leigh. It has this innocuous facade yet something deeper resides below it. The story follows Vivienne and Lance. At the story’s beginning, we find out that Vivienne is out of a job, a home, and a boyfriend, all in one fell swoop. Not particularly interested in living with her parents, when her best friend, Savannah, suggests she acts as a caretaker of a share home in the Hamptons for the summer, she jumps at the chance, figuring she can live rent-free while working various jobs to save up for finding her own place at summer’s end.
One day, while she is cleaning up after a party weekend, a man enters the home, Lance. Lance is the home’s owner, although he hides that fact from Vivienne. They are instantly attracted to each other, yet neither of them lets the other know. Not wanting her to leave his home, he lies that the home is his “friend’s” and she can continue on as the caretaker of it, while also redesigning it (Vivienne is a designer, intent on starting her own business). As they live together as roommates, their attraction pulls them closer together until they finally give in to their urges. However, Lance wants more of her time as protection from the brigade of single women in the Hamptons intent on landing him as a rich boyfriend or husband. He asks Vivienne to act as his fake girlfriend for a sum, squashing whatever future they might have. It doesn’t matter, though, because Lance will leave at the end of the summer and Vivienne will hopefully open her own design studio. How can they have anything more than the summer?
As I mentioned earlier in this review, Tara Leigh’s brand of romance is a guaranteed angst fest. On a few occasions, she has put me through some serious anxiety and tears with her stories, and it’s why I love to read her stories. They make me feel, they pull me through, and they remind me that life isn’t easy; yet, if we find that certain person in our life, when life is hard, we can survive it with this person by our side. Hamptons Heartbreak is all of this.
I haven’t read the earlier books in this series of standalones, but, honestly, it wasn’t necessary because Lance and Vivienne stand on their own well. Lance’s friends, Tripp and Jolie, simply help us understand him better while also showing us why we should love Vivienne for him. Their love acts as a reflection of Lance and Vivienne’s journey. And there are other characters here that we’ll see in other stories, which I cannot wait to read. Yet, not having any of their stories didn’t detract from Lance and Vivienne.
What I loved the most is Leigh’s character development of Vivienne. This woman has been taken advantage of and humiliated, yet she doesn’t retaliate initially. She simply decides to find her own space elsewhere. You don’t view it as cowardice. It looks like self-protection. As she encounters Lance, it’s clear who the better human being is. She’s independent, focused, goal-oriented. She isn’t vain, and she stands as a contrast to the fabricated, rich wives and girlfriends of Lance’s social level. Vivienne knows who she is, and she becomes a foil to Lance.
While Lance is wealthy, he accumulated it in adulthood. He is “new” rich, and he lives his life with imposter syndrome. He mentions throughout the story that he’s lying to everyone because his past is a far cry from his present. While Vivienne knows herself, Lance struggles to accept his reality. He throws money around easily and becomes upset when people take it from him. When Vivienne agrees to be his fake girlfriend, she is absolutely reticent to do it, but he almost forces it on her in somewhat of a predatory way. Since she feels that she has no choice, she agrees, but she’s never comfortable with it. Lance reads the entire situation wrong, and it causes all of their problems. Vivienne knows her place and herself that comes out of this book as its best trait.
Thankfully, Lance can be redeemed, and his heroic journey helps him evolve to the Lance of the epilogue. Yet, don’t be surprised if you don’t like him for much of the book. Leigh writes moments of clarity for him, but he’s rather stubborn and self-involved that his story almost doesn’t end in a happy ending.
I love the highs and lows of an angsty read such as Hamptons Heartbreak. It reminds me that I’m an emotional human being when I can laugh and cry in equal measure. Like I said previously, I’m ready for more stories in Tara Leigh’s New York City Romance series, reminding me that Tara Leigh has definitely grabbed my reader’s heart.
In love and romance,