The Sweetheart Rules by Shirley Jump (Sweetheart Sisters #2)

The Sweetheart Rules by Shirley JumpAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Berkley

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Pam

Rescue Bay veterinarian Diana Tuttle is a great single mom, but she has a harder time taking care of herself. Having been burned in the past by her son’s noncommittal father, the last thing she wants is a man who isn’t in it for the long haul—until a foolish one-night stand from her past walks back into her life.

Coast Guard Lieutenant Mike Stark has never wanted to settle down. But when his ex-wife leaves their two small children on his doorstep, he is forced to become a family man in a hurry. His return to Rescue Bay, Florida and fatherhood isn’t easy, but reconnecting with Diana makes the challenge all the more worthwhile. Except becoming the long-term lover she has in mind may be one commitment too many… Luckily, when Diana’s and Mike’s pasts begin to threaten their future, the Sweetheart Sisters have the perfect scheme to make this second chance last a lifetime.

This is a wonderful story about family, trust and building bridges in relationships. I thoroughly enjoyed this second addition to the series that lets us get to know more about the residents of Rescue Bay, Florida.

Mike Stark is back in Rescue Bay with his two daughters (Jenny 8 and Elle 4) who he barely knows; his ex-wife is going on a long vacation with her new boyfriend and Mike is taking some time off. He comes to Rescue Bay because he can use Luke’s place, there was no way he was staying in the rundown trailer that his ex was living in. Although he is nervous about spending time with his daughters, he is glad that he gets this chance. Mike is also glad he gets the chance to talk to Diana, the two met several months ago when he came to visit Luke, and they shared an amazing night together but he baled in the morning without a goodbye, much to the heartache of both Diana and her son Jackson.

Mike and Diana are still attracted to each other but face mounting obstacles that may keep them apart, but if Greta and the ladies from the Golden Years retirement home have anything to say about it, the two will have their happily ever after no matter what it costs.

This is such an engaging story, filled with humor, family drama and an attraction that will survive it all. Mike and Diana are perfect for each other, they both have their hurtful pasts and current problems that they must get through but according to Greta, Luke’s grandmother and local matchmaker anything can be overcome with love. Greta is hilarious, she goes from trying to get Mike and Diana together to trying to avoid her own happily ever after with Harold who watches her with his puppy dog eyes.

We met Diana in the first book, The Sweetheart Bargain and there were many unresolved issues with her at the end of the book, but I am happy to see that Diana’s story is everything I had hoped it was. The relationship between her and her sister is much better, but she is still struggling with her son Jackson and it is heartbreaking to read as they go through their issues. And then there is the father she never met that comes to visit, she is just going through so much that you really feel for her. Mike adds to her problems by wanting another short fling but then later changes his mind believing he is ready to commit, but she is scared. I do like Mike, he has his own demons to get over, and I like the fact that he is the first to cave; he admits to being in love and wants it all.

The three kids add much to this story; the two girls are so gun-shy about getting too close to their dad that it is heartbreaking to watch. They have had much grief in their short years; the oldest is use to taking care of Elle, unsure of what to think of their father and his structured ways, which made for some comic moments. And Jackson also has struggles; he is not making friends at his new school so goes out and finds his own “friends” and when he believes his father wants a true relationship finally, it is heartbreaking to see the emotions he goes through.

The author lets us live through each of the characters with their POV’s, Jackson, Mike, Diana and even Greta which makes for a great story as we to see how they feel. I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to more in this setting. Toward the end I was trying to figure out which character would be next, and I am happy with the choice, Greta’s stoic doctor, it will be fun to watch him fall.

I give The Sweetheart Rules by Shirley Jump 4.25 stars!

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