Monday, August 15, 2016

[ARC Review]: "Sunset in Central Park"

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan
Publisher: HQN Books (August 30th, 2016)
Series: From Manhattan with Love, 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance

In the chaos of New York, true love can be hard to find, even when it's been right under your nose all along… 

Love has never been a priority for garden designer Frankie Cole. After witnessing the fallout of her parents' divorce, she's seen the devastation an overload of emotion can cause. The only man she feels comfortable with is her friend Matt—but that's strictly platonic. If only she found it easier to ignore the way he makes her heart race… 

Matt Walker has loved Frankie for years but, sensing how fragile she is beneath her feisty exterior, has always played it cool. But then he uncovers new depths to the girl he's known forever and doesn't want to wait a moment longer. He knows Frankie has secrets and has buried them deep, but can Matt persuade her to trust him with her heart and kiss him under the Manhattan sunset?

Where to Buy*:
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Reviews of Morgan's Previous Books:

Sleigh Bells in the Snow (#1) -- TBQ
Suddenly Last Summer (#2) -- TBQ

Sleepless in Manhattan (#1) -- TBQ

My Review:

Her experience was that family was complicated, infuriating, embarrassing, selfish and, on too many occasions, hurtful. And when it was family that hurt you, the wounds were  somehow deeper and slower to heal, perhaps because the expectations were different.

Frankie has major issues with love, trust, and relationships. Meaning, she doesn’t believe in any of it and thinks every relationship is doomed to fall apart because people lie and fall out of love. The reason she thinks this? Her father cheated, and then left, when Frankie was a young teen. Her mother spent the first few months after that severely depressed, literally in bed all day and leaving young Frankie to deal with everything, before suddenly getting up and deciding to take her life back. A new look and she was out on the town, going after every available – and a few not-so-available – men. Not just any men though, always the younger men. As if all of that isn’t bad enough, it took place in a very small town. I’m sure you can imagine the gossip and looks that Frankie got because of her mother. Frankie left the minute she graduated high school and never once looked back, wanting to start over in NYC where no one knew her or her mother’s wild ways.

Matt is the older brother to Paige, one of Frankie’s best friends (Eva being the other). He’s known Frankie for most of his life . . . and had a crush on her for most of that time, too. But he knows better than to say anything. He knows how Frankie views relationships after all. But even after all this time, he just can’t stop thinking about her, and not just in a friendly way. Could it finally be time for him to slowly show Frankie that not all relationships are doomed, and that what they have can stand up to it all?

I liked Frankie, and I knew I would from the first book. Frankie’s a bit socially awkward, and prefers spending time alone or time with her two best friends to, well, anything else. I can definitely relate to that. And while I can’t say I related to her views on relationships, I can understand where she was coming from and why she would think that way. Rest assured, she doesn’t change into a cheery lovey-dovey romantic at the end of the book, and frankly I didn’t want her to. That would have been against her character. But she does realize that her parents’ relationship problems are not the norm, and more importantly she sees that she loves Matt, and he loves her, and that’s what matters the most.

The build up to their relationship is pretty slow, but very sweet and sometimes even a bit cute-awkward, as Matt shows Frankie that they’re friends, yes, but they can be so much more, too. Something that Frankie wants, but is afraid to go after, afraid to hope for.

He'd taken her hand a couple of times in the park while they were walking, that was all. But she was fast discovering that sexual awareness was rooted in more than just touch. It could be triggered by a smile, a word or a look, like the one he'd given her over dinner that had made her feel as if she was the only woman in the restaurant.

And she realized that the most deliciously arousing thing of all was how well he knew her.

In fact, there’s a perfect balance of sweet and sexy. Morgan doesn’t write closed-door sex scenes, but they’re not Super Intense Sexy, either. I like my books dirty – the dirtier the better – but I love the milder, though still hot, level Morgan gives, too. I very much loved seeing Frankie come out of her shell, not just sexually, but in general.

"You're going to be my brother-in-law. It's official. There's going to be a ceremony. In a way, you're marrying me."

Matt almost cracked a smile. "I'm going to file for divorce."

"On what grounds?"

"Unreasonable behavior. Breaking and entering and--" he eyed the beer "--theft and misappropriation of property."

There are also a lot of fun lines – like the short quotes at the top of each chapter – as well as Frankie’s dry humor and general friendship fun times sprinkled throughout the book.

Maybe friendship was loving someone even when you didn't always understand them.

I love that this series focuses so much on friendship, and I love Paige, Frankie and Eva – together as a group and separately as their own characters. And yes, I’m also partial to their men. ;)

I also love the sense of community they’ve built around themselves in NYC – some of the good things from their small town life while still being able to start a life away from all that.

An overall lovely reading experience, very much like book 1. Morgan knows how to create characters you will love and a story that you want to enjoy for as long as possible. I’m very much looking forward to Eva’s story, set during the holidays and featuring a bit of an opposites-attract theme: Eva loves all things romantic but hates horror; her hero is a best-selling horror novelist. I’m sure this’ll be fun! I have an ARC already and will be starting it as we head into fall.


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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Sarah Morgan; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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Until Next Time,


  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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