A temporary pit stop…or a forever homecoming?
Aspiring pastry chef Nicole Evans is just waiting to hear about her dream job, and in the meantime, she goes to work in the café at the local bookstore.
But that’s before the recently widowed Nicole meets her temporary boss: her first crush, Liam Mendez!
Single dad Liam has always kept his life—and his heart—closely guarded against Oak Hollow gossip.
Will his simmering attraction to Nicole be just one more thing to hide…or the stuff of his bookstore’s romance novels?
Titles in the Home to Oak Hollow series include — A Sheriff’s Star —♥— In the Key of Family —♥— A Child’s Christmas Wish —♥— A Marriage of Benefits —♥— Lessons in Fatherhood —♥— The Bookstore’s Secret —♥—
This is an adult 18+ story that may contain language, possible violence, and/or sexual situations geared to an adult audience.
*I’ve read the entire series so far, but those titles were not reviewed here – I’ve chosen to not link those offsite reviews here to avoid confusion, so you’ll only see links to reviews done at Happily Ever After Romance …but the entire series is well worth checking out.*
Title: The Bookstore’s Secret
Series: Home to Oak Hollow #6
Author: Makenna Lee
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: December 27, 2022
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
My Rating: 4.5 stars
Although The Bookstore’s Secret is the sixth title in the Home to Oak Hollow series, it works just fine as a standalone if you haven’t yet discovered this small town full of stories and interesting, at times quirky, residents. And perhaps Nicole, Liam, Travis (Liam’s teenage son), and Katie (Nicole’s younger daughter) will entice you to explore the rest of this series – hint: the kids often steal scenes and are both adorable and believable.
Nicole has returned home after the death of her mentally and emotionally abusive husband. Her life has not been easy, and now her world has been shattered by the actions of the one man who was supposed to love and support her… all he actually did was demean and belittle her. She’s lived with secrets for far too long and will not tolerate them in the future from anyone, which also leaves her with more than a few trust issues. She’s waiting for a resort to answer her job applications as head chef, for her baking and cooking skills are beyond amazing – in the meantime, it’s back to her childhood home to regroup and figure out her life now. The last thing she expected was to run into a good friend from her past who also just happened to be her childhood crush.
Unfortunately, Liam is holding onto one big secret, one that would harm no one, but that he prefers to not be public knowledge for his own good reasons. As Liam restarts his life back home after a divorce he’s created a bookstore and bistro in town where his love of books can be a profitable business as well. As Liam and Nicole reconnect and slowly take those tentative steps toward more than just their childhood crushes, reality will come crashing in when least expected – and they both have to make some difficult choices, and re-evaluate their own actions as well.
I simply loved The Bookstore’s Secret for the message it sends and the characters we get to meet. In reality, Travis and Katie Cat often outshine their parents when they steal the scenes right from under them but they are both adorable in their own unique fashions. Nicole and Liam’s romance is well-written, and most importantly to me, believable. They each have trust issues, and they aren’t vague reasons but sound ones for them – that those issues lead to trouble is inevitable but watching them fall in love, have their trust in each other be put to the test, and seeing them work through to their own solutions and happiness was a delightful slice of real life wrapped up in a very good love story. I had fun here, and that’s the whole point.
If you love a believable couple facing life’s challenges, two adorable kids, a small-town feel (with resident gossip), and a romance that delivers all the feels you’d want to find then The Bookstore’s Secret is a perfect match for you.
I own a Kindle edition of this title.
Available in print or for your favorite e-reader