At long last, Samantha Young takes us back to the quaint little coastal town of Hartwell, Delaware with a secret love story spanning a decade as two unlikely lovers discover they’re meant for each other. Book after book, this entire series has kept me spellbound with its colourful characters and the powerful bonds between them, but it seems like every story so far has been leading up to this one. We finally find out how the town’s shy bookstore owner ended up falling for the mysterious son of Hartwell’s most ruthless villain, and their story was not only profoundly moving and unexpected—it was also well worth the wait.
He knew he’d never meet a purer heart than the one that belonged to this beautiful woman.
From the moment Jack Devlin spotted Emery Saunders across a crowded boardwalk pub, he knew that no other woman would ever make him feel the way she did. And even though his bachelor lifestyle and aversion to settling down made him utterly unsuitable for a woman whose every move radiated innocence and modesty, it was Emery’s own secrets that made her the last woman Jack should ever court. Because when you are the prodigal son of a man who manipulates and exploits other people’s weaknesses for the sheer, malicious fun of it, you know that staying away from someone like Emory is the only way to protect her. Over the years, their mutual attraction only intensifies, and somewhere along the way, tired of living life from the sidelines, a blushing wallflower begins to wish for her own piece of the legend of Hart’s Boardwalk.
I knew. I’d known from the moment I talked to Jack Devlin that his kiss would be the kind I’d waited for my entire life.
But just as their relationship is about to take its first leap forward, Jack’s life takes a sharp turn in the opposite direction, and Emery Saunders becomes the very thing he can no longer allow himself to have. More years go by and Jack’s actions become more and more difficult to justify, but Emery continues to hope in the man she thought she knew. She watches others find love and yearns to do the same, but every time she lets herself lower her guard with Jack, he manages to chip away at her heart a little more.
For the longest time, I’d allowed myself to stay frozen in one place because I hadn’t quite let go of hope. Hope that one day Jack Devlin would reveal himself to me. That he would change his mind.
By the time they get their first real chance at happiness, Emery’s history with Jack has made her distrustful of his intentions towards her. But then life throws them a curveball neither of them expected, giving Jack a little more time to prove to the woman he’s loved for nine long years that he could deserve her, and that this time around, he wasn’t going anywhere.
“I want to be with a man who sees me as his family first. Who puts me first. That’s never been you, Jack.”
This is in no way a ‘classical love story’, but it is a deeply romantic one all the same. Emory and Jack are apprehensive of relationships for similar reasons, familial dysfunction having coloured the way they perceive life and love, and even though theirs is a story that is riddled with ups and downs, with heartbreak and misunderstandings, they continue to find ways to lean on each other, to help one another, and to make each other stronger over the years. I loved how effortlessly the author weaves their story into all the ones that came before theirs, making these characters feel utterly vital to the series as a whole, but it is the way Samantha Young continues to craft tender, heartwarming, and poignantly written stories of hope, friendship, and love that had me hanging on her every word.
She was his and he was hers, and he felt that deep in his fucking soul.