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Mara Hanover is a shy, hardworking girl, born on the other side of the tracks. Her family is trailer trash, and she left home at a young age and worked hard to put her rough beginnings behind her. Mara heard all of her childhood that she was worthless and would never amount to much. Her self worth and self esteem are very low. Police detective Mitch Lawson is Mara’s neighbor and she has secretly been in love with him for years. Mitch, according to Mara, is way out of her league. Mara sees herself as a 2.5 and Mitch as a 10.5. When Mara gets a phone call from a store about her nine year old cousin, Billy and his six year old sister, Billie, she rushes out to pick up the kids she loves. She literally runs into Mitch on her way, and he talks her into letting him drive her there. The kids’ father, Mara’s drug-addicted, drug-dealing cousin, Bill is bad news.

I will freely admit I’ve had issues with Kristen Ashley’s heroines in the past. Too many of them are cardboard cut-out Lucille Ball type characters – wacky and obnoxious. Mara is not obnoxious. Mara is sweet and shy. She’s retreated so far inside her own head that Mitch struggles to find the real Mara. Mitch has been secretly into Mara for years, too, and she has all kinds of trouble accepting that.

The side characters in this book were great. Mara’s boss, her coworker, her best friend at home, and her neighbors all thought Mara was wonderful. When Mitch finds out she ranks people in her head and puts them all into zones, he’s baffled with that. He worked so hard the first half of the story to break her out of the protective and imaginary cocoon she’d wrapped herself in. It was sweet. Mitch forced her to live in the real world outside of Mara world.

Mara’s young nephew and niece were so cute and sweet. Mara ends up fighting to get custody. There’s action and excitement because Bill has entangled himself with some very bad people. Mara’s mother and aunt show up to create havoc.

I really liked this one and recommend it.