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Review: The One Real Thing by Samantha Young

by Samantha Young
Series: Hart's Boardwalk #1
Genres: Contemporary, Adult
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Publication Date: September 6th 2016
Source: ARC received for review
Rating: ★★
Amazon - Barnes & Noble
Welcome to Hartwell, a quiet seaside escape where uncovering old secrets could lead one woman to discover the meaning of a love that lasts…

While Doctor Jessica Huntington engages with the inmates at the women’s correctional facility where she works, she’s always careful to avoid emotional attachments in her personal life. Loss and betrayal taught her that lesson long ago. But when she comes across a set of old love letters in the prison’s library and visits the picturesque town of Hartwell to deliver them to their intended recipient, she finds herself unable to resist the town’s charm—and her attraction to the sexy owner of a local bar proves equally hard to deny.

Since his divorce from his unfaithful ex-wife, Cooper Lawson has focused on what really matters: his family and the boardwalk pub they’ve owned for generations. But the first time Jessica steps into his bar, Cooper is beyond tempted to risk his heart on her. Yet as their attraction grows hotter and Jessica remains stubbornly closed off, he begins to realize it will take more than just passion to convince her there’s only one real thing in life worth fighting for….

Samantha Young is easily one of favorite romance writers. Her On Dublin Street series is at the top of my all-time favorite books list. I was more than a little excited when she announced her new series set in a small coastal town. If you guys know me, then you know just how much I adore the combination of small towns and romance. The One Real Thing had everything that I love in a Samantha Young book and by the end, I was dying to get my hands on the next one already.

I really really loved the characters in this book. They were pretty much the heart and soul of the story and are what set the book apart from other small-town romances. There was Jessica, our protagonist, who works as a prison doctor, which was a fascinating occupation in my opinion. She was holding her own secrets, but there was a genuineness to her that I really loved and even though we don't fully get to know exactly what she is hiding until the end, I grew to know and love the kind of person she was, kind and compassionate and generous. You can't help but root for her and for her happily ever after. When her truth did finally come out, it broke my heart and it only made me wish for her happiness even more. She learned a lot about herself and gained a lot of courage throughout The One Real Thing and it was so great to watch happen.

Then there was Cooper, the sexy bar owner in Hartwell, who pretty much embodied a swoony Samantha Young hero. I loved this man from the very first time we lay our eyes on him. Cooper is battling with a broken heart and bitterness towards relationship after his nasty divorce from his cheating ex. Despite that though, he was charming and sweet and thoughtful to the people around him. I loved how he was helping those around him in need without ever complaining. If Jessica wasn't going to have him, I was going to take him all for myself!

The romance between Cooper and Jessica started off with instant attraction, but it took its sweet time to develop over the course of the book. The progression and pacing of the romance were perfect. I loved how these two sort of ran in circles around each other, but when they finally gave in to the passion between them, it was hot and steamy. They have a lot of obstacles to face, especially with Cooper's annoying ex, Jessica's friend-with-benefit and Jessica's secret. But thankfully, the book never felt over the top with the drama between them, and only surfacing towards the end. Cooper and Jessica talk instead of making any assumptions and I found that to be refreshing about their romance.

There's something about small-towns that's just so picturesque and cozy and warm in romance novels. The coastal town of Hartwell has to be one of my favorite fictional settings. By the end of the book, I almost wish it were possible for me to jump into this town and be a part of this community of quirky and protective characters. The secondary cast in this book was absolutely charming. It's a big cast, but Samantha Young develops all of them brilliantly and it's almost as if you get to befriend them too along with Jessica throughout The One Real Thing. I was especially fond of Bailey, a bubbly and spirited B&B owner who befriends Jessica in Hartwell. I loved the friendship that developed between these two and I so can't wait to read her book next. My only complaint when it comes to The One Real Thing was the switch from first person in Jessica's POV to third person in Cooper's POV. It took some time to get adjusted to that, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment.

The One Real Thing was an amazing start to a new Samantha Young series. She's an incredibly talented author and this book is proof of that. She has a gem with this romantic series and I can't wait to see where she goes with it.

Have you read books by Samantha Young? What is your favorite by her?
Let me know in the comments below!