Series: Haven Point (Book 2)
McKenzie Shaw would do anything for her hometown of Haven Point. It may be small, but it's never let her down…unlike gorgeous, infuriating Ben Kilpatrick. He was her childhood hero until he closed his family's factory, leaving the town's economy in shambles. Now his tech firm is considering opening a local facility. For Haven Point's sake, McKenzie has to grit her teeth and play nice.
What could a town filled with painful memories ever offer Ben? Yet seeing the town through the eyes of McKenzie -- its fiery young mayor -- he suddenly has his answer. If only he can resolve the animosity crackling between them, Ben may have found the place where he can build ties and find healing…a place where love arrives when it's least expected.
Very good small town romance between two people who are a lot alike, yet also very different. McKenzie was briefly introduced in Snow Angel Cove as the new mayor of Haven Point. Ben is mentioned as the hometown boy who moved away, and when he inherited the family business closed it down. His neglect of the business properties he owned in town added to the general opinion that his actions have been responsible for the town's economic woes. McKenzie is not happy to discover that Ben is back in town after so many years away.
McKenzie loves the town that she has called home since she was ten years old. As the mayor, she is determined to make it the successful town it was back then. When she discovers that Ben is back in town and living next door to her, she has no problem letting him know just how low her opinion of him is. What she doesn't expect is that the remnants of her childhood crush on him are still there, and being fanned by a very adult attraction to him. When she finds out that Haven Point is in the running for a branch of his business, she realizes that she needs to attempt to be nice and show him everything that the town has to offer.
Ben is really not happy to be back in Haven Point. He left when he finished high school and has never returned, not even for his father's funeral. He is Aidan's business partner (Snow Angel Cove) and the one in charge of checking out possible new locations. Aidan has also told him that he needs a vacation and this will kill two birds with one stone. The problem is that he can't look at the town without remembering why he wanted out.
I loved McKenzie. She's an upbeat person who tries to keep a positive outlook on things. Even when she's dealing with grumpy neighbors/townspeople, she keeps in mind what makes them that way. I understood her grudge against Ben and how hard it was for her when she realized that she was going to have to "court" him for the town. By spending time with him, she soon learned that there was more to what happened than she knew, and her attitude began to soften. I loved seeing her show Ben the side of the town he hadn't really seen as a kid.
Ben was terrific. Through McKenzie's memories, we saw the boy who loved his sister and mourned her illness and death. We also got to see the memories of his father and how his emotional abuse affected Ben. Though he seems cold when he first comes to town, there are glimpses of the man underneath, such as when he's playing with the dog. I liked that he told McKenzie why he was there, but was also honest that his intention was not to use Haven Point for the business. He didn't mislead her there. As the days went on, I loved seeing how he started to relax and open up a bit, such as inviting McKenzie and the boys on his boat. He also began to see the town in a slightly more positive light. Then the revelation of a secret from his past changes everything he thought he knew.
I loved seeing the relationship between them develop. The attraction is hard to resist, even though they try. McKenzie will start to respond, but then is reminded of her anger with him and her mistrust of his motives, and will pull away until the next time it flares up. Ben is just plain reluctant to get involved. He knows she is tied to the town, and it is the last place he wants to be. The attraction that pulls them together begins to develop deeper roots, and sharing their pasts increases the understanding between them. Then a misunderstanding about the new facility causes a big blowup between them, with hurtful things said. It doesn't look good for the relationship or the town. Then a disaster threatens the town and Ben sees McKenzie and the people in action, showing him just what she had been trying to tell him all along. I loved his "aha" moment, when he finally understood. Even better, was when each realized that to have it all they had to risk it all. The epilogue was great, and tied up the book quite neatly.
I also liked the continuing theme of family, with all its good and bad sides. McKenzie's past shows how her arrival in Haven Point could have turned out far differently. I liked how her relationship with her father and sister were shown to be so good, but that her relationship with her stepmother was understandably strained. It wasn't made out to be a terrible thing, it just was what it was and was accepted. Ben's family relationships, on the other hand, were terrible. As each bit of it was revealed, it became more understandable why Ben was the way he was. His interactions with his mother were hard to see because he was so conflicted. I did begin to suspect what the secret was before it was revealed. I also liked that it was handled in a realistic manner, with Ben struggling to accept it all, though there seems to be hope for it all to work out.