Lila Alders had made it. She moved out of tiny Black Dog Bay. She was on tv as the host of a home shopping show, moderately famous enough to be recognized, occasionally. She and her husband had money. Yep, she'd made it, right up until she hadn't. Her contract not renewed and unable to get auditions for other tv jobs, her cheating husband has divorced her and left her destitute, so she has nowhere to go but home to her recently widowed mother so she can lick her wounds in Black Dog Bay while she considers what to do with her life. All of her possessions in the back of her FUV (the name she calls the enormous SUV she bought just before her ex-husband cancelled her credit card and cleared out their joint account--say it out loud if you're still not getting it), she breaks down on the way into town, running into her ex-boyfriend from high school, Ben.
The plan is to move back in with her recently widowed mom, Daphne, and help with all the things that Lila's dad used to do for his wife while also renewing her acquaintance with Ben. But things don't run as smoothly as all that. Lila quickly discovers that her father hid the extent of his debts from her mother, her mother has continued living as if her income was unlimited. There's nothing for it but to sell the gorgeous home she grew up in no matter how much it hurts her and how much her mother protests. Daphne is a former model who feels trapped in Black Dog Bay and is missing her late husband so much that she can't bear to think about selling the home he built for her and that she has spent decades decorating and perfecting. So when Lila finds trunks full of her mother's old couture clothing in the attic, she determines to open a vintage clothing store, and hopefully make enough to save the house. As all of this is coming together, she tries to rekindle a relationship with Ben, who is, no doubt about it, a really good guy. Ben isn't the only guy in town though; there's also Malcolm, the quiet guy she doesn't remember from high school, a former Marine who, having learned to sew from his mother and grandmother, makes covert repairs to the delicate clothing Lila brings to him.
As Lila tries desperately to save her mother, the house, and herself, through setback after setback, she starts to realize that she has been so busy being who everyone else expects her to be that she doesn't even know who she actually is, and she may not have ever known. She is learning strength and confidence. She is making friends with other women who like her and support her. And she is getting to know the Lila that can make things happen, not just for herself but for those she cares about. The book is fun and flirty but it also has a strong undercurrent of empowerment weaving through the lively and entertaining chick lit plot. Kendrick revisits characters from the first Black Dog Bay book and a knowledge of the first book does give some additional insight into the town, the speed at which gossip spreads in it, and the eccentric characters who inhabit the place, but even without it, this is still an amusing and enjoyable read that easily stands on its own. The romance is mostly predictable but the real focus is on Lila, her growth, and her newfound ability to find happiness and joy in the people and place around her and as such, is a delight to read.
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Thanks to Kayleigh from Berkley/NAL for sending me a copy of the book for review.