Welcome to the first post in the Summer of (Fictional) Love!
Today, I’m reviewing Falling Fast, by Tina Wainscott, as part of the Tasty Book Tour Virtual Tour. I was given a free copy of Falling Fast by NetGalley, in exchange for this honest review. I’m also welcoming Tina Wainscott to the blog, as she talks to us about the appeal of second chance romances. There’s also a giveaway, and you can win a Loveswept mug, Flirt mug and a select ebook bundle – who doesn’t want that?
Fans of Jasinda Wilder and Colleen Hoover will adore this emotional new small-town romance—a smoldering tale of first love and long-awaited redemption from USA Today bestselling author Tina Wainscott.
Raleigh West works in an auto shop day and night, trying to put his broken past out of mind. It’s been seven years since the fiery crash that landed his teenage sweetheart in the hospital . . . and him in jail. In an instant, he lost everything: his passion for racing, his hope of escaping his father’s shameful legacy, and the only girl he ever loved. Raleigh hasn’t seen her since that awful night. Never got a chance to apologize. And never forgave himself, either.
When brave, beautiful Mia Wentworth returns to the Florida coast for the first time in what seems like forever, it’s not to see Raleigh. Even so, the moment she arrives she can feel his presence like a gust of wind that gives her goose bumps. Opening her heart to him again seems impossible. But staying away? That might be harder still. Lucky for them both, Mia’s never been the kind of woman to take the easy way out.
I really enjoyed this book, about Raleigh West and Mia Wentworth, once teens in love, now adults with a history and a past that threatens to keep them apart. They met when Mia was seventeen and Raleigh nineteen, and had a passionate summer romance that ended in a fiery crash – literally.
Seven years later, Mia’s grandmother has died and when Mia returns to the small Florida town of Chambliss to deal with that, she realizes quickly that she’ll see Raleigh. He does, too – and neither of them are sure they can handle it.
Raleigh looked up, and his eyes softened in a way she knew, and felt, right down to her bones. He didn’t smile, but he stood, his body tensing as he took in her approach. Friendly or hostile? He was no doubt trying to figure it out. She tried to smile, to let him know that she wasn’t here to yell at him, but her face felt frozen. Paralyzed. Hell, was she going to freeze up again?
She tried to utter a greeting, but her dry throat prevented the words from emerging. She waved instead.
Raleigh stepped out from behind the stone, coming toward her. His eyes hungrily roamed over her, skipping from her face down her body, then quickly back again. Not lustily but as if sating a deep thirst. And there, beneath the question in his eyes, lay a hint of a smile. Suddenly she was transported back to that first time she’d gone into the garage just to see him. To ask him more about the races. He’d looked both pleased and surprised.
“Mia,” he said, her name loaded with more than she could interpret.
For a moment, she forgot about the scars that would be visible in the bright sunlight. She forgot to breathe. “Raleigh,” she said. She thought she was smiling, but it might look more like a grimace. Gawd, get hold of yourself. You’re just here to let him know you don’t hate him. “I—”
“Mia! We have to go!” Her mother’s voice pounded harshly from behind her.
Mia turned, spotting her mother duck-walking over in spiked heels that kept sinking into the earth, hands fisted at her sides. She turned back to Raleigh. “I just wanted to say . . . I don’t —”
“Mia,” her mother ground out.
“Blame you,” Mia managed, and quickly walked toward her mother, not wanting her anywhere near Raleigh. He would probably think she was still that timid seventeen-year-old who was afraid her parents would find out that she was sneaking out at night. But she wanted to protect him from all the angry, imprudent things that would gush from her mother’s mouth.
“What are you doing?” she hissed as Mia hooked her arm through hers and spun her back toward the casket.
“It’s called closure, Mother. The last time we spoke, he’d called to see how I was doing, and I hung up on him.”
“Well, he deserved it,” she shot back, flicking a glance backward.
Mia fought not to do the same. She didn’t want to see what expression he might have. Disgust. Sympathy. Regret. Or, even worse, just dismissal. “No, he didn’t.”
“She was talking to him,” her mother said when they reached her father. “She went to him.”
Mia met her father’s curious and disconcerted expression. “I just wanted him to know I wasn’t angry at him.” Though, dammit, she hadn’t gotten that part out.
“Why do you care what he thinks?” her father asked in his low, emotionless voice.
“Or do you care?” her mother asked. “You’re not still—”
“Of course not.” Even uttering the words in love was preposterous. Mia couldn’t help herself, glancing toward Raleigh. He was kneeling in front of the stone again, but his eyes were on her. “It was just a summer romance. Teenage hormones.”
They seemed gratified by that last declaration, even though it sounded hollow to her ears. “We should go,” her father said, nodding toward the people now milling by the limousine.
Once they reached it, she shot one more look toward Raleigh. She wanted to believe her recent declaration, but she felt exactly like that girl who had fallen fast and hard for the boy who’d made her a woman.
Tina’s Thoughts On Second Chance Romances
Loving a Second Chance at Romance
Who doesn’t love a second chance? Sheryl Larson, a reader, said, “I do love them. It’s about redemption, reconciliation, reconnecting with their long lost love that for whatever reason got away or they pushed away.” Another reader, Jade Elyzabeth, said, “I love them because it gives those of us who mess up a heart warming feeling that things could still work out and that the people who love us could forgive our mistakes.” Jenni Dinh, of Bitten by Love Reviews, wrote an article on second chances, which ends with: “Are we strong enough to take on this feeling that got put on the back burner years ago? Has he changed? Has she changed? What kind of person he/she is now? If we had stuck together, what would have become of us? The questions will all be answered — you just have to take a leap of faith and let yourself fall in love again.” (http://romanceatrandom.com/love-is-sweeter-the-second-time-around/)
The first book I ever read that featured a second chance plot was Danielle Steele’s The Promise. A couple getting married despite the wealthy hero’s family’s objections get into a terrible accident that disfigures her. While some unlikely plot twists separate them, I loved the anticipation of that moment when they would be reunited.
I actually thought, when I trolled through my thirty books, that I’d find a bunch of second chance themes. Only six! But a future Justiss book and the next two Falling Fast novels will also feature second chance at love plots. And a couple of books I never ended up publishing also featured second chance plots.
A lot of the appeal is that many of us have that special someone in their past where it didn’t work out, they moved on … and you always wondered WHAT IF? Maybe you made a huge mistake and pushed them away, broke up, or (eegads!) left them for someone else. Time passes, and the pain heals. Or does it? Maybe it only softens. You fantasize about running into them, feeling that same spark between you. It’s that fantasy that gets us writers going, our imaginations humming away with bits and pieces of a movie in our minds.
In Falling Fast, I’ve thrown a few obstacles at our young lovers. Before the book starts, Mia is seventeen and in remission from cancer. She’s come down to Chambliss, Florida, in the Panhandle, on an obligatory family vacation. She’s missed out on a lot in life, and having faced death and the grueling treatments, she feels different from kids her age. She’s determined to make the best of the boring seaside town, so she picks up the car at the garage to take it to the beach. That’s when she meets Raleigh, the sexy mechanic who makes her realize she is, after all, a hormonal, teenage girl. That he doesn’t know about her battle with cancer, that he sees her as totally normal, is awesome. That he invites to her watch him street race is way too tempting. She needs to live. And she does, over the next few weeks, discovering that this bad boy with a tender heart needs her as much as she needs him. She even convinces him to let her ride with him during the races. And then the unimaginable happens: another driver crashes into them, and their car goes up in flames. Mia is severely burned, and her parents take her back to Wisconsin to continue healing—while barring Raleigh from any contact with her.
Poor Raleigh has borne the guilt of putting her in danger for seven years, keeping up with Mia vicariously through her grandmother, Nancy. Aching for Mia and believing he doesn’t deserve her. When Nancy dies, she leaves both Raleigh and Mia her house as a way of reuniting two people whom she saw shared a true love. You see, Nancy had a lost love, too, and her story ended sadly. And so Mia and Raleigh have to get her house ready to put on the market, all the while working through the layers of their past—and the true love they still harbor for each other.
They still face obstacles, of course. I love those! Their happy ending will be hard won, and hopefully satisfying.
I can’t think of one boyfriend I regretted letting go (though I can think of a few guys I regretted dating, LOL!). But I do wonder about a few of them: Where did they end up? How are they doing? Is there someone you regretted parting ways with?
I really enjoyed reading this story. The characters were deep and believable, both with intricate histories that lent some real detail to them. The secondary characters were amazingly developed – there were multiple secondary characters that I hope to learn more about in future novels (Pax, Grace, and Rose!). Mia’s parents were not the most likable people, but her father did somewhat redeem himself by the end, though I still didn’t like her mother.
Falling Fast is the first of the Falling Fast novels, and while I was intrigued enough by the secondary characters to want to read future books in this series, the book was written in such a way that you could finish this book and not feel as though you have to read the others. I like this because that tells me the rest of the series will be written the same way, and I always prefer that with any series I read – the idea that I can read the books as a series or as standalones.
This is the first book I’ve read by Tina Wainscott, but it was a perfect introduction to her work and I will definitely be reading more by her in the future.
Find Falling Fast and the entire Falling Fast series on Goodreads.
USA Today bestselling author Tina Wainscott has always loved the combination of romance and suspense, because nothing complements falling in love better than being hunted down. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas, Wainscott creates characters with baggage, past hurts, and vulnerabilities. They go through hell, find love, and, at the end, find peace in who they are and everything they’ve gone through. And isn’t that what everyone wants?
You can follow the rest of the tour here, to read more reviews, guests posts and interviews with Tina Wainscott.