You know when a toddler has a complete meltdown-type of tantrum, one where you can see in their eyes that even THEY are confused about what’s happening? They just want someone to tell them, “No!” so they can get control of themselves again. This is what was happening to the hero of our story before he finally ran into a woman who wasn’t afraid to call him out on his jerkish behavior and make him want to participate in life again.
Oliver Cody is a privileged man-child who, with the guidance of his father, became the CEO of the company they started together while he was still in his mid-20s. He was always the golden child, excelling in everything he tried, riding high on life, enjoying a loving and supportive family and more success than he thought he truly deserved. He started to wonder if his position was just handed to him by his dad or if he really earned it. His self doubt caused him to have a bit of a breakdown, and to the disappointment of his parents (and his fiancée), he took off and ran away from his life for close to a year.
It took a tragedy to bring him back home, and now he is storming around not handling the aftermath very well. From the very first page of the book, we are not given an impression of a man to be admired. He may be handsome, successful, and smart, but he is also extremely spoiled and arrogant. Unfortunately, although I came to understand the reasons behind his behavior, that initial poor impression was not completely eradicated.
Holland O’Dell is an intelligent woman who has always reached her goals by following a well thought-out plan. She is currently working for what she considers the right company (Cody Technology) but in the wrong department. She was hired to work in sales, but her true calling is working in analytics. She has been devising improvements for a current application designed at Cody, with the hope that her changes will open up the field to include Major League Baseball as a buyer of the sports-related app. Her hopes are riding on this new technology to also put her in the sights of the execs at Cody so they can see her true potential.
She runs across a scruffy, grumpy dude nicknamed “Hale,” at her favorite coffee shop and gives him a tongue lashing after he rudely cut in the front of a long line demanding priority service. Hale is immediately intrigued by her and after a second encounter offers to help her with the tech side of improving the app. She finally agrees and a friendship is born, one that progresses to more as she starts to see his thoughtful and kind side.
Several revelations come to light which cause tension and unnecessarily drawn-out angst between our main characters. The delay in resolving these issues makes me not like our hero very much, but the story itself was well written and I was happy to see some growth in the characters.
I wasn’t impressed with the prologue as it came across like many of the contemporary romance novels today that use the overly aggressive “I know how hot I am, everyone wants to sleep with me, and I can get away with whatever I want” type of arrogance as a means to make the character seem edgier or complicated or as an easy way to show what a catch they are. The book did improve past that point and had a deeper and much more emotional plot than the first impression leaves, so don’t let the first few pages put you off entirely.
Ultimately, this is the story of a grieving man figuring out exactly what love, trust, and family really means.