Back To The Start by Monica McCallan is a wonderful second chance romance that gave me oodles of warm, fuzzy, feels. It is about forgiveness and taking a good, hard look at how easy it is to let the events from your past dictate your actions in the present; actions that are not always kind.
Remy has built a life for herself in San Francisco, far from the small town where she grew up. Far away, is how she likes it. When her grandmother dies, Remy has to return to the town she left behind in order to pack up and sell her grandmother’s house.
Of course, one of the first people she runs into is the woman who stole her heart twelve years ago. The beautiful and popular Fallon is still living in the small town. Much to Remy’s dismay, their paths keep crossing. Even more disconcerting is the fact that the anger she has held on to for over a decade is at war with the strong attraction she still feels for the blonde.
Remy soon realizes this trip home is going to open the doors to a past she shut a long time ago. Spending more time with Fallon has her examining everything she thought she knew about her home town. It also forces her to realize that she is the only one to blame for her problems.
Remy did not plan on rekindling a relationship with Fallon. She is there to get her grandmother’s house sold and nothing more. Four weeks with Fallon in her life is one thing, but does Remy want to let Fallon back into her heart permanently?
Remy and Fallon are so much fun together. Once they get over their initial awkwardness and clear up the misunderstanding that had come between them, they seem to fall back into the same sweet friendship that they had when they were teenagers. They bring out the best in each other and their joy is contagious.
Remy has a pretty big chip on her shoulder when she rolls in to town. She believes she is better than everyone still living there. Well, most of the time she does, but there is still a hint of the wounded, humiliated teenager lurking in the recesses of her mind. Being around Fallon seems to make her more vibrant and Fallon smooths out her rough edges. I adore how Remy is so genuinely proud of Fallon and all her accomplishments. Watching Remy reevaluate the priorities in her life is something I expect in a second chance romance but seeing her examine how she has treated past lovers was a special bonus.
Fallon is so surprising. I did not expect to like her as much as I did. She is the one who broke Remy’s heart over a decade ago, so I was prepared to hold that against her. As with Remy, the more that’s revealed about Fallon, the more I liked her. I fell under her charms just as quickly as Remy did. I love how humble Fallon is and how she does things that are generous and compassionate without wanting to draw attention to herself. I admired her for making so much of her life and I was looking forward to seeing where her future was going to take her.
The Writing Style
McCallan writes wonderfully witty dialogue and it is part of what makes Remy and Fallon feel like such a perfect fit. I loved the humor that’s weaved in throughout the entire story. The banter that flows back and forth between Remy and Fallon kept the story fresh and the pacing just perfect. Once the slow burn of attraction begins between Remy and Fallon, I was glued to the book.
The story is told in the third person from Remy’s point of view. It felt just right for this book. This is really Remy’s story. She is the one who has to come to terms with her past and take a look at how she is living in the present. I also liked that I was finding out new and unexpected tidbits about Fallon at the same time Remy was. Fallon is definitely more than a pretty face.
One of my favorite things about second chance romances is that they are so darn dependable. I know I’m going to get the perfect amount of angst that I look for in a romance and I know I’m going to get the happy ending that I crave. No, that was not a spoiler! It’s called a second chance romance for a reason. Have you ever read a fourth chance romance? I didn’t think so.
It is clear from the beginning that Remy and Fallon have terrific chemistry. This translates into some truly sexy love scenes. There weren’t too many as to feel gratuitous and there were enough that I wasn’t left wanting more. I enjoyed how McCallan wrote them as they unfolded in the story, but she also included some as sensual memories from the morning after.
I loved everything about this book.
I’m so glad that I got to read Back To The Start. It hit all the notes that I look for in a romance. There were so many interesting opportunities for Remy and Fallon to interact with each other that I never felt a lull in the story. Both women are extremely likable, and I think I came away from the book with a healthy crush on Fallon. This is definitely going on my list of books for rereading. I’m so looking forward to McCallan’s next novel (no pressure)!
Excerpt from Back To The Start by Monica McCallan
“I didn’t know if I should say hello.” Fallon’s words were sweeter than Remy expected, her voice coming out lower than when she’d been chirping away with her sister.
“And yet here you are,” she bit back as she turned her body toward the blonde. Couldn’t she at least pretend to be the functional adult she’d become in the years that had passed during the rest of this hopefully short conversation?
Part of Remy wanted to lash out, but the other part wanted to ignore her completely and leave this place in her rearview mirror. Or more accurately, and with a greater opportunity for distance, the window of a plane as she got as many miles away as possible.
Fallon chewed on her bottom lip and mulled over her words, just like when they were kids. “Didn’t expect to see you back here.” She said the words lightly as she quirked an eyebrow. Remy didn’t catch their implication.
“Well, things change,” she retorted with a short clip, her own lips forming into a harsh shape. She hated her behavior, but life leaves scars on a person, and this whole situation made Remy feel like someone was taking a hot branding iron to hers with each passing second in Fallon’s presence.
“I know,” Fallon said. She looked toward the ground as she scuffed her sneaker against the floor.
It attracted Remy’s attention, her eyes scanning back up the length of Fallon. She wore a simple outfit, sneakers and yoga pants, like she’d just come from working out. A T-shirt hung loosely on her frame and her sunglasses were perched on top of her head.
Remy finished her unintended gaze up the woman and found Fallon’s eyes following her own. The brunette felt the heat on her neck at the body’s betrayal.
“You’re looking well,” Fallon said like she could read her mind, echoing Remy’s thoughts back to her.
“Looking well? Is this an episode of Downton Abbey?”
“I mean I could say you look hot, but that feels just a bit pervy for my taste. Your call though.” She quirked her eyebrow again and kept an innocent smile.
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