3/10/2023 – Updated for Audio
While Sullivan Calloway recuperates from a devastating accident at sea, the only employment he’s fit for is a job few have survived.
Time and tide wait for no man. Neither does Helen O’Neill. She’s spent years forging her own path in the movie business. Who cares if her latest assistant is a sight for sore eyes? Expectations cannot be lowered.
If he can’t keep up, he’ll be out on his very fine behind.
If only her heart would get the memo.
Point of view:
1st Person. Alternating between Sully & Helen’s perspectives.
This is the second book in Karen Grey’s Carolina Classics series. While each book focuses on a different couple, there’s definitely some story lines that will weave throughout the whole series. While I loved and think the prequel, I’ll Stand By You, is a good intro – minimally this would best be enjoyed after reading/listening to book 1, You Get What You Give.
Oh my heart! Sully and Helen were PERFECT. I connect really well with Grey’s writing and characters which is why I continue to devour her books – but this is my absolute favorite of all her books. First there are so many tropes & themes that I love: office romance, age gap, competent women and men who appreciate them for it, small town romance, found family and lots of laughs.
Sully is recovering from a disastrous boating accident and dealing with all that comes with it: physically, financially, and emotionally. Helen is a movie executive who has no patience for assistants or time for love. When Helen’s in need of help during a shoot in North Carolina, Dani suggest Sully. While he’s usually the muscle on set, he knows how the business works.
Immediately I connected with Sully. I just got off crutches after a surgery earlier this month and I could relate with how frustrating it is to not be able to do so. many. things. I love the way Grey brought all of those little details into the story. Helen was also fantastic. The perfect mix of strong, driven, smart, a fierce friend, and yet still vulnerable.
These two are fireworks. At first just clashing (in a fun way) in the office and then sparks fly in the bedroom. But it isn’t all just lust. It was easy to tell that these two belonged together and that their HEA was a certainty… once they managed a few bumps in the road. While Helen is 10 years older at 38, the age gap didn’t actually cause a lot of issues. Overall, Grey provided just enough angst in a few areas to make things interesting without dragging it out.
I like that the rest of the Carolina Classics gang is integral to the story, but doesn’t take the light away from Helen and Sully. We get updates on Violet & Nate, Ford, Whitney, and it looks like Dani’s book is up next. She’s been such an intriguing character – I can’t wait.
JF Harding & MacKenzie Cartwright were *perfect* as Sully & Helen. The accents, the personalities, each narrator making the necessary changes to bringing the opposite character to life. Absolutely flawless and a delight to listen to. This will definitely be one I enjoy over and over.
Content Warnings (spoilers):
Grey has a good list at the opening of the book & on her website. The only thing I’d add is that for much of the first half of the book the tragic death of a pet plays a pivotal role. Even *more* spoiler: cat is found alive later.
I received an advanced copy of the ebook & audiobook from Home Cooked Books and am leaving an honest review.
About the author:
Karen Grey is the pen name for award-winning audiobook narrator Karen White. A stage, screen and radio drama actor in Boston, New York and Los Angeles in the late 20thcentury, she balanced child-rearing and career for most of the 2000’s. Now, she’s not only emptied her nest of children, she’s taken it and her many pets on the road, so she can spend more time with her nomadic TV sound mixer husband while she makes up happy-ending stories.
You can connect with Karen Grey here:
About the Narrators:
Mackenzie Cartwright can’t get enough of narrating romance. She’s voiced novels by some of the most talented authors in the business, among them Kristen Ashley, Evangeline Anderson, Tijan, Tessa Bailey and Alessandra Torre. She loves getting swept away in a great story when she narrates.
Mackenzie Cartwright was born in New York City to two artist parents and traveled the world at a young age. While in Italy, she discovered the joys of pasta and wine and has been a lifelong practitioner of the art of cooking. Mackenzie lives with her husband and their Siberian husky in New York City.
You can connect with Mackenzie Cartwright here:
You can connect with JF Harding here:
My Favorite Quotes
“All the smart women end up being their own bosses.”
“He can’t type, he can’t walk, and he’s a he. Why in the world do you think I should hire him?”
“I have not yelled at him once this week. Okay, maybe once. But he yelled right back, so we’re even.”
“Maybe it’s that she needs a break from being the one in charge, but I really don’t care who’s the captain of the ship, I just love taking my time with this woman.”
“I’ve never known a man who hugs like Sully Calloway. He wants them often, and he does them well.”
“I survived a boat wreck. I think I can handle you.”
“The beach and the water have always been my church.”