Here to Stay
About This Book
After playing nomad for five years, Blake Hunziker has finally had enough of adventure. Not sure what reception he’ll get from everyone back in Whisper Shore, he’s stunned at not only a warm welcome from his hometown but also a job offer. The job is his if he can successfully pull off the annual Christmas Festival. If only he knew the first thing about coordinating events . . .
If there’s one thing Autumn Kingsley knows, it’s Whisper Shore. For years, she’s been stuck running her family’s inn when all she wants is to see the world. Now she has a visit scheduled from a potential investor who could take over the inn, as well as a dream job offer in Paris. But with just two weeks to whip the inn into shape, her chance at escape is a long shot.
The Hunzikers and the Kingsleys may not get along, but Blake knows Autumn’s the only one who can help him. She agrees to a trade—she’ll help with the Festival and he’ll help with inn repairs. But what was meant to be a simple deal quickly becomes much more than that when the guy who’s done running away joins forces with the girl who can’t wait to leave.
Melissa Tagg’s debut novel, Made to Last, was full of wit, sass and sparkle, akin to Gilmore Girls with its flair for pop-culture references, but in terms of story and character development I remember it feeling a little flat for me, as do many debut novels. So I was hoping for more maturity, depth and writing-craft refinement in this second book, in addition to a lot of laughs and a great romance. Since this story continues the adventures of one of the key secondary characters from Made to Last, I was also hoping for a glimpse or two of Miranda and Matt’s denouement (the heroine and hero from that book).
Blake may have been a major secondary character in Made to Last, but at no time did this book feel like it was standing on the first book’s shoulders. Here to Stay provided all the right info I needed to remember (or you may need to know, if you haven’t read Made to Last) without bogging me down with back story. And Made to Last‘s heroine Miranda Woodruff made a perfectly-placed cameo appearance to provide not only a glimpse of her own happily-ever-after, but also to create a well-timed plot twist that nudged the storyline into a whole new gear. I also loved the scenes with Lucy and Fletcher, and wished there would have been more of them! And, after all the talk about Blake’s nickname and his penchant for setting accidental fires, I absolutely LOVED that he does just that . . . but you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens.
It’s a rare book indeed that leaves me with nothing to criticize, but nothing awkward or negative stood out in this story, either in terms of content or writing technique. Few books these days allow me to completely shut off my critical-reviewers/editor’s brain and simply get lost in a great story, and Here to Stay did just that.
I am thrilled to say that Here to Stay lived up to all my expectations and then some. This was as pretty darn close to flawless a book I’ve read in a long, long time! Tagg’s voice as a writer was noticeably improved from her debut novel—which was a pretty high bar! Witty dialogue and prose melted perfectly with some seriously deep, heartfelt moments (no joke, keep the Kleenex close by) to produce an impeccably well-rounded story that touched all the right nerves and funny bones. I highly recommend it!
Available May 6, 2014 from Bethany House Publishers