Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Tropes: second chance romance; workplace romance; fractured family; adversaries-to-lovers
“It’s healthy to wreck an unfinished thing so you can start over and build something stronger. It’s not okay to break something just because it hurts to look at it. That’s what I did to us. I’ll always be sorry.”
Reed and Ava, the first couple of the newest Madigan Mountain series, exemplify complicated. Sarina Bowen hits her readers hard with their second chance at romance, adversarial journey. Interestingly, this isn’t the only complicated relationship in the first book of this series, A Little Too Late. There are broken connections strewn throughout this book. Thankfully, this is a romance, so there is a guaranteed happy ending, but what is most compelling about this story is its focus on the reality of relationships: they may be fractured, but they needn’t remain that way. Most can be mended with care, tenacity, and a huge “I’m sorry.” Bowen deftly weaves this truth through her newest book.
Here are the aspects of the book that made it a good read:
- After Ava and Reed’s break-up, Ava finds a family on Madigan Mountain. She compiles a group of strong, independent women to support her. This group of women provides a counterbalance to the re-emergence of Reed in her life. When the story grows heavy with the trials of their reconciliation, the reader can rest in the humor and wisdom provided by this group.
- Reed’s journey is fairly typical of the overworking, ambitious MMC. He’s all work and little play (what little “play” he engages in is transactional at best). This means his journey will be the most profound, and this is true for Reed. I will say that, for me, Reed is my least favorite character in this story. There are a variety of reasons which I won’t post here to avoid spoilers, but I didn’t care much for him throughout most of the book. He redeems himself, but I wouldn’t say he’s a favorite Sarina Bowen MMC of mine.
- While Reed, for me, isn’t a favorite character, Ava is. With that, though, is her book-long struggle to grow vulnerable again with Reed. If you’re looking for a quick fix for this couple, it takes most of the book for it. However, Ava is the impetus for any real change between these two. Even though she vacillates between hating and wanting Reed, her eventual openness with Reed becomes the impetus for his final change. Her forgiveness and willingness to move forward become their resolution, making her characterization much more interesting.
Sarina Bowen’s A Little Too Late is a good emotional start to the Madigan Mountain series. Is it my favorite story from Sarina Bowen? No. Did it meet its purpose? I believe so. It provided the background necessary for the books coming from Rebecca Yarros and Devney Perry while also gifting us a complicated couple who reminds us that brokenness isn’t bad unless we don’t try to repair it.