Note: This is a republished novel that has been refreshed by the author, but retains the earlier writing style to maintain the flavor.
I’m a sucker for a small-town romance because the focus is usually on the connections between folks. I chose this to read as a candy bar book: a sweet, easy read that would make me smile. I couldn’t have been more wrong–or more right–about that.
Making Chase brings Matt, the product of a loving and well-respected family, together with Tate, a woman from the wrong side of the tracks who has made it her mission to keep her brothers and sisters safe from an abusive father and neglectful mother.
Matt has rarely been challenged. He’s smart, handsome, and laid-back. Things come easy for him, so much so he doesn’t realize that isn’t the way for most people.
Tate has been challenged every day of her life whether it’s money troubles, physical and verbal abuse, or strategic issues with giving her siblings a shot at a decent life.
This book goes far beyond the sugarcoated image of small towns. It’s not just nasty gossip the Murphy family has to contend with, and Tate is a special target. She doesn’t look like her brothers and sisters. She’s short where they’re tall, she’s blonde to their redheads, and unlike any of her family, she’s curvaceous, something she’s been convinced makes her dumpy and while not ugly, at least no competition to the other women in Matt’s life.
The story is about Tate coming to understand her own worth when she’s used all her considerable strength of character to protect her family but never really stood up for herself. But that’s not all it is. Matt and Tate have an almost instant connection. She’s different from any of the women he’s dated, not only in shape but in how she thinks, her approach to life, and most importantly, her unwavering commitment to her family. She’s everything he’s been missing, only she can’t believe it.
The above sounds rather one-sided until you consider Matt has never been in a situation where the person he’s with defaults to distrust rather than trust, where she interprets his every action as pulling away. Sure, it’s frustrating, and he doesn’t respond well, but it’s not until he grasps the world through her eyes that he is able to meet her distrust with a stronger love than she can dismiss.
The character development on both sides was beautifully conveyed while their commitment to family, extended, immediate, and actively in both their lives resonated with me.
I wasn’t expecting the story to become so real, but I appreciate how it did, taking a deep look at the impact not just of physical abuse but the insidious aspects of mental abuse, especially in terms of body image. More than just touching on the topics, Making Chase demonstrates ways to help the healing and the struggle to overcome that background.
Making Chase has all the traditional elements of contemporary romance, lots of detailed sex and some swearing. It also has the kind of strong female characters I like to see, ones who find their strength in family and who move mountains to protect those they love. Which is far from saying Tate and the other leading women were in any way invulnerable. They were all too human in the costs of their strength and even their stumbles. Matt is much the same, coming across as bumbling at times because Tate doesn’t fall into his arms like all the others. He knows what he wants, and until he learns better, tries to trample everything in his way, including Tate.
This is a strong, worthwhile story, living up to its potential and even going beyond.
P.S. I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.