Desperate to put her life back together like Humpty Dumpty, Brooke turns to her girlfriends at The Monday Night Dinner Club, all pug owners, and to her grandmother, her “rock” since her hippie parents’ sudden death. Savvy, stylish, wise and witty at 70 plus, Nan introduces her to Pres Carpenter, the hand-some, hunky dog-walker for her pugs, who’s got the hots for Brooke. Is he just a struggling writer, eager to earn extra money? Or an unlikely “catch,” a real life Prince Charming, hiding his own heartbreak and family secrets.
Struck by their sizzling chemistry, Brooke can’t ignore the melting desire she feels for Pres, the very opposite of everything she ever thought she wanted! And she’s surprised and delighted by Nan’s friends, smart, lovable, laugh-out-loud seniors, who help her rebuild her life beyond her wildest dreams…
Shine Your Love on Me is classic Jean Joachim, an urban love story with a heroine who seems to have it all: a power career with a mid-town ad agency, a special understanding with the boss that looks like the real deal, and a close circle of friends and family she can count on to even out life’s little speed bumps.
About those speed bumps…
The problem with high-powered careers is they can produce the worst sort of whiplash when you are least expecting it. For Brooke Felsen, life as she knows it takes a nose-dive, even after she’s tried on playing nice, followed by denial, that last one not exactly a good fit on her. Brooke’s in for one rough ride and will need a few life lessons to get her head turned around and that chip off her shoulder, along with that side of entitlement that has her missing what’s right in front of her nose.
To wit: one “dog walker,” Preston Pres Carpenter, who is way more than he seems. Pres walks Brooke’s grandmother’s adorable Pugs as a favor, not as an occupation, though Brooke is oblivious—to Pres and all he has to offer. Meantime, Pres has been hankering after the Type A gal who won’t give him a second look.
When Brooke’s life implodes, she’s forced to take refuge with her Nan who shamelessly creates opportunities to put Pres on Brooke’s radar. It takes a while, but when she finally gets a clue, what she discovers more than “exceeds expectations”—to use her former corporate speak.
Life’s never smooth sailing and both Brooke and Pres have history that makes getting their dreams and life goals a rough row to hoe (to use a cliché). The getting-to-know-you scenes are lovely, realistic and sigh-worthy.
The minor characters, a senior center’s gaggle of them, lighten up the proceedings with sly humor and blunt observations. Brooke’s intimate circle of BFFs, the Monday Night Dinner Club, provide girl power advice and shoulders to cry on—along with good eats and a helping hand. And of course, the Pugs play a central part in bringing and keeping together two souls who might otherwise never have found common ground.
Untypical for an urban romance, Brooke is the one who needs to find her center after losing the one thing she’s relied on to get her past her own sad history. Pres is the sympathetic, always-there force to be reckoned with. Their dynamics made for a nice change of pace, especially when you see a character grow and develop, eventually opening her heart up to all the possibilities.
The author captures the setting of mid-town Manhatten beautifully—its rhythms, quirks, and a sense of shared intimacy in the midst of lives lived with intensity. Heart-stopping "Oh No!" moments resolve with some surprising twists and turns, and of course the ending is just what you come to a Jean Joachim romance for.
This is a fast-paced, sensual read with just the right touch of angst for both parties. Although it’s part of a series, it reads nicely as a standalone with just a scene at the end that points the reader toward the next in the series.
I plan to dive into more books from this series. So should you!