I haven’t been a dedicated follower of the Fortune family romances, but the ones I’ve enjoyed combine conflicts around economic imbalance with characters trying to find their roots. It’s a strong enough connection that this title caught my eye when I was looking for a contemporary romance to read. Add in two small children, and this book hits one of my sweet spots.
Fortune’s Fresh Start earns its title because Callum Fortune, after failing at his first marriage, has decided he does not have what it takes to maintain a relationship. He’s unwilling to hurt those he cares for, nor does he want to experience that pain himself. Instead, he throws everything he has at making the latest renovation project succeed. This ignores, as he does, all the energy he pours into making sure his four sisters and three brothers are happy and cared for.
In walks Becky Averill with her twin daughters and strong spirit. She is tough, capable, and able to achieve whatever fate puts before her, or so it looks on the outside. Like Callum, she fears any sign of how ragged her life as a widowed mother of two toddlers is will bring her parents or the authorities to rip her away from a town she loves and even take the twins away. She closes herself off from everyone to hide her struggles, but Callum has been the one to step in unasked since his mother needed help with his younger sisters when he was a child.
Their economic disparity is a minor subplot compared to how both need to learn to trust and love again. Becky isn’t aware of how she holds herself separate, friendly, but not friends, with many. Almost without realizing it, she comes to rely on him, the first man to raise feelings since Becky’s husband died in a car accident when she was pregnant. The trust he provokes gives her the confidence to make real friends and accept offers of help as kindness rather than pity.
Callum knows he denies himself. He’s so sure he’s right, he’ll throw away the most important thing to happen in his life, and break one adult and two little hearts doing it. But despite his confidence in this, he is drawn to Becky and her daughters, unable to keep himself away even when he knows he should.
Their relationship develops from instant attraction into something deeper every time they cross paths. But Callum keeps shying away, which confuses Becky and frustrates his siblings. Becky might be intimidated by his wealth and unsure what he sees in a struggling single mom, but with a little help, she could make her own good fortune in helping him come to terms with his past.
This book shows the complications of dating with small kids and an active, involved family. It is set in the welcoming community (with hints of conflicts to come) of Rambling Rose, Texas, and has low detail, but open door scenes. I enjoyed spending time with the main characters, and the way their greater relationships shored them up until they were capable of accepting each other. If you like babies and strong communities, you might enjoy a visit to Rambling Rose.
P.S. I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.