Staying for Good by Catherine Bybee
Publisher & Release: Montlake Romance, January 24, 2017
Time and setting: Present Day, River Bend
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Book Length: 322 pages
Heat Level: 2 Flames
Rating: 5 Gold Crowns
Zoe Brown may have been voted Most Likely to Never Leave River Bend, but the paper-thin walls and suffocating air of her family’s double-wide trailer were not what she wanted for her life. Other than BFFs Melanie and Jo, the only thing that kept Zoe sane during high school was her boyfriend, Luke.
She didn’t just leave, she escaped—turning her back on the shame of her black-sheep siblings and imprisoned dad. Now a celebrity chef in Dallas, she can afford all the things she never could have growing up. But when she returns to rustic, ruggedly beautiful River Bend, Zoe must face all that she abandoned—including Luke.
While Luke was a refuge for Zoe in the past, he knows they inhabit totally different worlds now. Anchored by his parents and his job as a mechanic in his father’s shop, Luke never felt the urge to leave River Bend—until Zoe’s return.
But when the two rekindle their old flame, Zoe is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: remain in River Bend and confront her past before it destroys her, or say good-bye to everyone she’s ever loved…again, this time for good.
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Catherine Bybee has become one of my favorite contemporary authors. When I received an invitation to read Staying for Good, I eagerly accepted. I love that Ms. Bybee writes about REAL people with flawed lives, such a change from many contemporary authors. I received an ARC from the published via Net-Galley.
The pacing of Ms. Bybee’s books is always great and Staying for Good is as well. The characters are engaging and the plot is believable. I normally enjoy second chance romances and this is an excellent one.
Zoe Brown is a wonderful heroine. Determined to rise above her troubled background, she leaves her dysfunctional family in River Bend, her best friends, and her boyfriend to go on to achieve astonishing success as a celebrity chef. I could feel her pain when she realizes that her love for Luke is still as strong as ever when she returns for her friend’s wedding.
I thoroughly enjoyed Luke’s character. He’s one of the good guys, loyal to his family and friends. While he’s not lived as a monk, he has never found a woman that would suit him the way Zoe did. When he sees her at their 10th-year class reunion, she won’t leave his mind. When an opportunity arises to visit her in Texas, he takes it, determined to win her back. I loved his gentle pursuit of her and his patience.
What I like most about Ms. Bybee’s novels is that not only does she give me a great hero and heroine; she gives me an entire cast of characters that I grow to love as well. I can’t wait to read Jo’s story!
If you like small-town romances with a community to love, then you will love Staying for Good as much as I did. I highly recommend this book. It has been Ms. Bybee’s best so far. Happy reading!