Book Review, Romance Review

Review: If Only In My Dreams by Carrie Aarons

‘Tis the season to … be freshly divorced at twenty-six and moving back into your parents’ house?

Because that’s my reality this Christmas. As if it isn’t bad enough that my entire hometown is buzzing with the news of my failed marriage, who is the first person I bump into at the grocery store? The guy who treated me like his personal booty call in high school just happens to be looking at spices while I’m trying to pick up cinnamon for my mother.

And get this; Porter Kelly, the broody, mysterious recluse who exposed his own secrets to the world by writing a book about his family years ago, is the one who acts like I wronged him. His rude remarks on aisle nine are the final straw as my exhausted unhappiness breaks, and I’m officially calling off the most wonderful time of the year.

Too bad it’s literally impossible for the woman whose parents own a railroad that specializes in Christmas train rides to ignore the holiday season. Because I’m back under their roof, it’s mandatory to work in the middle of the red and green merriment, Santa himself, and wait for it …

Porter serenading us with the greatest festive hits of all time. That’s right, apparently my teenage heartthrob turned nemesis not only works for my parents, but can strum a guitar like he’s trying to get every soccer mom on board pregnant. As we’re forced to spend more time together than ever, his past baggage and my marital rejection make their way to the surface, bonding us in ways neither of us knew possible.

I thought I was heartbroken about my ex-husband wanting to end our marriage, but that pain is nothing compared to what Porter could inflict. He seems like a changed man, one on the precipice of a new chapter, which is exactly where I find myself. Would it be crazy to think we could turn the page together?

Returning home was the only option I had. But as I come dangerously close to counting on the first man who broke my heart, I wonder if all of my future dreams are too good to be true.

Madison’s humiliation is palpable as she details how her husband simply stopped loving her and the hometown gossips obsessed with the failure of her high-profile marriage, but that’s nothing compared to the way she describes her relationship with Porter Kelly. He’s not just the boy who broke her heart, he’s the boy who broke her heart repeatedly after she kept giving him another chance and now that she’s back, he’s the man who still treats her like garbage. Her body is a complete traitor, yearning for him even as she tries to loathe him for his extraordinary ability to hurt her.

Porter’s life has been rough and although that doesn’t excuse his behavior, it does explain it, if only he’d admit the truth. I love the way they way they spar because he has so much to apologize for yet he continually taunts her in the hopes of driving her away. He wants distance and she wants to forget him, but there’s no way to avoid each other when he’s working for her parents.

Their history is complicated and messy and painful but they’re drawn together in a way that won’t allow them to go their separate ways. I love Madison and Porter’s story because she’s so real, she could be any of us and Porter wants to be the man she deserves, even if he’s not sure he’s capable. Madison wants to see where this could go but she’s not about to let him off the hook for his past behavior so I love that she wasn’t some swooning pushover and also that he proved himself to be a better man than he was the first time she loved him.

He’s also a talented singer/songwriter and the detailed description of his acoustic performances will give you goosebumps. I could almost hear the music and in my mind, Porter’s sexy, smoky voice sounds very much like Jason Wade from Lifehouse. His version of You Belong To Me was my wedding song and it’s the absolute best version of a fantastic song so imagine my shock about ten years after we got married when I discovered he made that song for the Shrek soundtrack because seriously, for SHREK? But I digress . . .

Their story has a lot of heart but it’s also steamy and funny and fun to read. This is a book I’ll read again in the future, it’s that good. I received an ARC from Grey’s Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

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