Boston cop Kevin Manning promised his partner that he would look out for his family. But for two months, after sleeping with Tony’s little sister Nikki, Kevin has done just the opposite; blaming himself for the death, he’s hidden himself away thinking that would cause less pain. Instead, Nikki has not only been confused about Kevin’s silence, but is now pregnant with his child. If Kevin wants to be part of their lives, he’ll have to come to terms with the loss of his partner and his own role as a cop, a son, and a father.
As far as contemporary romances go, this one felt very typical of the genre to me, but in a good way – if you enjoy this sort of thing, you’ll unquestionably like this book. As it’s an ebook reissue of an older book by Carly Phillips, it makes sense that it conforms more closely to characters we consider stereotypes now. Kevin is a standard damaged hero, with a heart of gold who of course loves the girl but who has decided to close himself up emotionally because he’s had too much pain in the past. His father is a dependent alcoholic who has never repented or tried to recover and he’s been trained to consider things his fault, rather than letting people love him and accept love in return.
This leads to a difficult situation for Nikki, who genuinely cares for Kevin and, as most women would be, is downright confused by his behavior. He walks out on her after their first night together, when both are clearly still grieving for her brother Tony, and then vanishes, leaving her to pick up the pieces of her life and somehow fit them back into a shape that resembles happiness. Unsurprisingly, she’s failed, as she can no longer pay the bills to continue her degree and actually get to the stage where she can support herself and the baby. Kevin finds her again waitressing in a bar, dodging men persistent on flirting with her, and is enraged, even though if he’d stuck around he probably would have been able to help.
I have mixed feelings on this book. It frustrates me that, for example, Nikki is rendered so helpless by the absence of men in her lives. She loses all of her possibilities in life on the death of her brother, who can no longer support her through her degree, which makes sense, but then she is forced by pregnancy to give up work and become completely dependent on Kevin. She tries to retain her independence by becoming a waitress, and then by taking steps to continue her education and become her own woman eventually, though, which helped to redeem her in my eyes. Events conspire against her, but she does the best she can overall.
Kevin, however, I just found to be irritating overall. I could see why he had problems, especially when his father appears in the picture, but as a less patient woman, I would have walked out well before Nikki. Still, when he finally does open up (this is a romance, we all know it’s coming), the ending is sweet and I did leave the book behind satisfied. They both have issues to overcome and that makes the ending feel like a proper coming together.
For a fast, romantic contemporary read, Solitary Man would certainly be a good choice.
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