Joe Cantrell, the owner and captain of the Gansett Island ferry, has been in love with his best friend's little sister, Janey, for as long as he can remember. But before he ever had a chance to pursue her, she chose another guy. She's been with her boyfriend - now fiancé - David, since high school, leaving Joe pining for a woman he knows he can never have. But when her engagement falls apart, and Janey looks to him for a place to stay for a few days until she can get her head together, he can't say no. Joe tries to hold himself at a distance, knowing that Janey needs time to heal from her heartbreak, but when she all but begs him to make love to her, he simply can't resist. Will all of Joe's dreams finally come true, or is he destined for a lifetime of heartbreak if he only turns out to be the rebound guy? And how will Janey's protective older brother react when he finds out Joe's been sleeping with his little sister?
Janey McCarthy thought she had her whole life planned out. She's engaged to her high-school sweetheart, a doctor-in-training, and is looking forward to her dream wedding in only a year. But when she goes to the mainland to surprise him for their anniversary, she finds him in bed with another woman. Heartbroken, she doesn't even confront him, but instead flees the scene, only to have her car break down on the way home. With all of her other family and friends on the island, the only person she knows to call is her brother's best friend, Joe, who keeps a home on the mainland. Joe willingly comes to her rescue and even offers to let her stay for a few days while she figures out how to break the news to her family. But when one thing leads to another, Janey discovers a sexual chemistry with Joe that's off the charts hot and like nothing she's ever experienced before. Just like that, she feels as though she could be falling in love with him. But could it possibly be real given that she's just put a thirteen-year relationship to rest? And if it is, how can she ask him to wait for her when it looks like her own dream of becoming a veterinarian - something that she'd put on hold for David - may finally be coming true?
Fool for Love is the second book in Marie Force's Gansett Island series. While the first book of the series introduced us to the McCarthy family and told the story of oldest son Mac, this second volume gives us a romance between Mac's best friend, Joe, and his only sister and the youngest McCarthy, Janey. Joe has been in love with Janey from afar for years, while Janey has been in a long-term, but also long-distance, relationship with her high-school sweetheart, David, who is studying to become a doctor. But when Janey finds David in bed with another woman on their anniversary, she's devastated. When her car breaks down while fleeing the scene of her heartbreak, she calls the only person she can think of for help and that happens to be Joe. He takes her home and tenderly cares for her, and when she all but begs him to make love to her, he can't resist even though he knows it might lead to his own heartbreak down the road. Soon he has almost everything he's ever dreamed of, but David's revelations, family machinations, and Janey finally getting a chance at her dream career may stand in the way of their HEA.
Joe is a steady guy who's lived on Gansett Island all his life. He owns and captains the ferry that runs between the island and the mainland. Although a best friend to her brother, Mac, he's also been a friend to Janey, and he's been in love with her for as long as he can remember, maybe even since they were kids. Before he ever had a chance to reveal his feelings, he watched Janey chose David in high school and she has remained with him ever since, leaving Joe struggling to move on. He still sees Janey all the time and wants her desperately, but knows he can't have her, even though he also sees that David doesn't treat her with the respect she deserves. So his life is filled with work, hobbies, and the occasional dalliance with a woman that's never been anything more than a physical release, while there's a big Janey-sized hole. When he's the one Janey calls after the fateful night she catches her fiancé cheating, he's more than happy to help her pick up the pieces, and when she begs him to make love to her, he's helpless to resist. It's the best sex both of them have ever had, and from there on, they simply can't seem to keep their hands off each other. But Janey is uncertain about her true feelings for Joe, leaving him in a painful limbo. Joe is a real sweetheart of a guy, who isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. When given the chance with Janey he's been longing for most of his life, he doesn't hesitate to jump in with both feet even though he knows it might lead to his own heartbreak later on if Janey can't return his feelings. I love how he's always there for her, and pulls out all the stops to romance her in hopes of getting her to fall in love with him. He's one of the most devoted and loyal romance heroes I've ever read.
As the youngest McCarthy, Janey has had to put up with four older, over-protective brothers all her life, but even they couldn't see David's flaws to prevent her heart from getting broken. Janey fell for David as a teenager and has been with him ever since. They had plans to get married, but their relationship is a long-distance one with David living in Boston and Janey staying on the island. After going to surprise him on their anniversary and seeing him in bed with the other woman, she doesn't even stop to confront him, and instead, runs away, only to have her car break down. Since all her family and friends are on the island, the only person she can think to call is Joe, who keeps a house on the mainland. He doesn't hesitate to come to her rescue and provide comfort for her devastated heart. One thing leads to another, and soon, all Janey wants is to feel something besides pain. Although Joe tries to talk her out of it, she eventually wears him down and gets him to make love to her, which turns out to be a revelation. Sex was never as good with David as it is with Joe, and Joe is so much more attentive in general than David has ever been. But with her barely ending their thirteen-year relationship, she isn't sure what her true feelings are for Joe. She's always loved him, but is she in love with him? Is that even possible in such a short length of time, or is he just the rebound guy? While she tries to figure it all out, Joe encourages her to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian - something that David had discouraged - but when her dream comes within reach, she doesn't think she can have both it and Joe. Janey is a very relatable heroine who is sweet but with a backbone. She never wavers over the end of her engagement even when David comes begging her to take him back and makes a major revelation. Even though she questions her feelings for Joe given how quickly it all happens, she's always cognizant of possibly hurting him and doesn't want that. She even tries to make what she thinks is a selfless choice, but I adore how Joe turned the tables on her to show her just how much he truly loves her.
With Gansett Island being a long-running series, there are supporting characters aplenty, many of whom get their own books in the series. The McCarthy parents, Big Mac and Linda (Celebration After Dark) are there to support their kids, and this time around, Linda was more likable, even though I worried for a moment that she might be conspiring with David's mom to push him and Janey back together. Mac and Maddie (Maid for Love) get several of their own POV scenes as we see them preparing for their wedding, and their relationship hits a small snag when Janey confides in Maddie who remains mum about what's going on between Janey and Joe. The other three McCarthy brothers, Evan (Hoping for Love), Grant (Falling for Love), and Adam (Waiting for Love) return home for the wedding, and Maddie's sister, Tiffany (Longing for Love) is seen in a couple of scenes. As I read, I wondered about what might happen to David. Although he was unfaithful to Janey and didn't always treat her the way she deserved, he wasn't a totally bad guy, and the author did end up giving him a sympathy factor. This made me curious if she might redeem him, and the answer is yes in the book, Time for Love. Then there's Mac and Joe's friend, Luke, who much like Joe, has been in love with a woman named Sydney for years. He gets one POV scene where he sneaks over to her house in hopes of getting a glimpse of her after she returns to the island following a devastating loss. Their book is the next one of the series, Ready for Love, which I very much look forward to reading. Of course, I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Janey's menagerie of special needs pets who are just too cute for words.
If you can't already tell, I absolutely loved Fool for Love. At first, I wasn't sure about the insta-love plot (at least from Janey's side), but Marie Force really sold it. Joe and Janey are simply perfect for one another. Joe is a to-die-for hero who's kind, loyal, and not afraid to put his heart on the line, while Janey is sweet, strong, and knows what she wants out of life. Their love scenes are plentiful and steamy, while their romance is deeply emotional and gave me all the feels I look for in a romance. I loved the secondary storyline of Mac and Maddie's wedding preparations, which helped tie the book into the greater series story arc, as well as the brief introduction to Luke and Sydney's story that's yet to come. With two big winners in a row, Marie Force has earned a spot on my favorite authors list and I can't wait to continue the series soon.
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