For most of his young adult life, Ben Foster was a rebel and a hell-raiser, always getting into one scrape or another. Then his girlfriend became pregnant. At only nineteen, Ben was too young and stupid to have a clue about how to be a father, so in fear, he ran the other way and never looked back. But recently the beloved grandmother who raised him passed away, leaving a small token for the great-granddaughter she'd never had the opportunity to meet. Ben has tracked down his daughter, Alanna, who is now twelve years old, to the little town of Bethlehem, New York. Worried that she may not want to have anything to do with him, he isn't sure if he wants to meet her in person or simply leave his grandmother's gift with her aunt, who is now her legal guardian. While he tries to make up his mind on how to handle the situation, Ben decides to put his carpentry skills to good use, helping a local businesswoman with repairs on an old house she bought. Although he's very attracted to her, at first glance, they don't seem like a good match, but the more they get to know each other, the more Ben starts thinking of putting down some roots in Bethlehem. However, he doesn't quite know how to tell her about his past and the daughter he still has yet to meet, or how she might react when she hears the truth of why he came to town in the first place.
Dedicated businesswoman Lynda Barone can't recall the last time she went on a date. Her long work hours and frequent business trips make building a romantic connection with someone difficult. Although her mother is pushing her to settle down, Lynda keeps telling herself she doesn't need a man in her life to be happy, but when she sees how content her two business partners are in their marriages, she can't help feeling a little lonely. She recently purchased an old house, which while structurally sounds, needs a lot of repairs, but she can't find a contractor willing to help her out. Then she chances upon Ben at the hardware store. He agrees to take on her project and eventually the two hit it off, progressing to far more than a working relationship. But when Ben finally fesses up about his checkered past and the child he abandoned, Lynda worries that if she allows herself to fully fall for him, he might do the same to her when the going gets rough. Can Ben convince Lynda that he's a changed man who can finally commit to a relationship and won't leave her?
Getting Lucky is the fifth full-length novel in Marilyn Pappano's Bethlehem series about a small town in New York where the HEAs are given a little helping hand by the town's resident guardian angels. In this one, we have Lynda who is business partners with Ross and Tom from two previous books. After Ross recently relocated the entire business to Bethlehem, Lynda bought an old fixer-upper of a house that she adores, but it needs a lot of TLC. Unfortunately with the construction business in the area booming, she hasn't been able to find a contractor who is willing to take on her much smaller project. Enter Ben who just came to town searching for Alanna, the daughter he's never met. Afraid that Alanna might not want anything to do with him, he isn't even certain he wants to meet her, so while he's biding his time, making up his mind about what to do, he offers to help Lynda. In spite of them being from opposite sides of the track and Lynda being known as a bit of a perfect Mary Sue with a type-A personality, the two start getting acquainted. Lynda has never felt quite so alive with any other man before, and Ben finds that Lynda might be someone worth putting down roots in Bethlehem for. But when Lynda learns about Ben's past, and how he abandoned the mother of his child, she begins to have second thoughts about pursuing a serious relationship with him. However, a little angelic intervention may prove exactly what they need to get their romance back on track.
Ben was raised by his beloved grandmother, Emmaline, and his parents were never really a part of his life. He was only nineteen when he got involved with Berry who was a little older than him, and when she got pregnant, he ran the other way. He was young and stupid and wrapped up in having a good time, and he thought that since he'd gotten along okay without his own father, that his child would too. Now twelve years later, his grandmother has recently died and left a family heirloom for Alanna, so Ben has decided to track down the daughter he's never met. He arrives in the sleepy little town of Bethlehem, thinking that he might just give the small treasure to Alanna's aunt, who is now her legal guardian, and then leave, but a chance meeting with Alanna herself, leaves him undecided. A part of him thinks she'd be better off without him and that she might not want anything to do with him anyway, but the part of him that no longer has any family to call his own wants to get to know her. While making up his mind what to do, he meets Lynda at the local hardware store where she's looking for someone who might be able to do some repairs on her house. Ben has worked in construction for most of his adult life and decides it would be a good way to pass the time. It certainly doesn't hurt that Lynda is gorgeous and as they get to know one another better, Ben starts to think that he might just want to stay in Bethlehem permanently. But when he tells Lynda the truth about Alanna and how he skipped out on her mother years ago, Lynda isn't so sure he's such a catch after all and Ben will have his work cut out for him convincing her he's a changed man. Admittedly, given Ben's history, he isn't the most admirable hero I've ever read, but I could tell that he's matured and is trying to be a better person. A part of me would have liked him to be a bit more proactive in making up his mind about Alanna, because his passivity ended up causing what I'd characterize as unnecessary drama. Although I didn't quite fall for him the way I would have preferred, I did generally like him, particularly for the way he makes Lynda feel beautiful and loves her for herself.
Lynda came from the opposite upbringing of Ben, having a happy, well-adjusted childhood, where she was pretty much a Mary Sue. She has a workaholic, type-A personality that has served her well in business, earning her a fortune, but it's caused her personal life to suffer. She broke up with her fiance because they were both so married to their work, they barely had time for each other. Now she keeps telling herself that she's content and doesn't need a man in her life, but a part of her sees how happy her two business partners are in their marriages and wants what they have. It doesn't help, though, that Lynda is six feet tall and rather socially awkward, which tends to turn off a lot of men, or that some men only want her for her money. Then she meets the handsome Ben who tops her lofty height by a couple of inches, doesn't seem to mind her quirks, and isn't really interested in her wealth. The two gradually hit if off and grow closer, but when Ben tells Lynda about his past, she starts to have reservations about a future with him, wondering if he might abandon her, too. I like that Lynda is a powerful businesswoman, which is something we don't often see in a romance heroine. She may be a bad-ass in the boardroom, but she has vulnerabilities in her personal life. I could relate pretty well to her body image issues and social anxieties. I think deep down she just wants someone to love her for herself, and she finds that in Ben. Even though they have great chemistry, I understood her reservations about Ben's past. But with a little help from her mom, best friend, and the guardian angels who are looking out for them, she might just be able to get past her doubts to give Ben the second chance he needs to prove himself.
Bethlehem is a fairly long series and being set in a small town, we get to see many past and future characters in supporting roles. Emilie and Nathan (Season for Miracles) are primary players given that they're now guardians for Alanna, as well as her sister and brother by different fathers. Of course, they're looking out for the well-being of their kids. Alanna has some of her own POV scenes as she meets Ben, but still doesn't know he's her dad. I was somewhat surprised that her part of the story isn't resolved by the end--in fact it's kind of a cliffhanger--and looks like it will continue into the next book, even though that one will be about a completely different couple who have no ties to her. Ross (Some Enchanted Season) is kind of Lynda's boss and the primary owner of the company she works for. We see him and his wife, Maggie, a few times. Ben agrees to see child psychologist, Dr. J. D. (Father to Be) to vet his stability to meet Alanna, and we see J. D.'s wife, Kelsey at least once I think, as well as his son, Caleb, who is good friends with, and sweet on, Alanna. Lynda's other business partner, Tom (First Kiss), and his new wife, Holly, show up as well. Then we have long-time supporting characters Ms. Agatha and Ms. Corinna, the elderly sisters who babysit for Alanna and her siblings. Ms. Agatha is planning her wedding to Dr. J. D.'s father. Bethlehem's resident guardian angels, the absent-minded Gloria, and her sidekick, Sophy, help push Ben and Lynda in the right direction. Lynda's best friend, Melina, a private investigator, comes to visit her a few times, and on one of her visits, she hooks up with single father, Sebastian. Unfortunately things don't go well between them, but they get the chance to reconcile in the next book of the series, Heaven on Earth.
Overall, I enjoyed Getting Lucky although it didn't end up being one of my favorites in the series. The romance between Lynda and Ben is definitely a slow-burn one that was appropriate for their characters, but at times, the story seemed a little too slow-paced. I generally liked both Ben and Lynda as characters and thought they fit well together. Even though they're opposites in many ways, I think that worked to an advantage. Lynda helps inspire Ben to be a better man and Ben helps Lynda to let her hair down a little, get out of her stuffy office, and realize there's more to life than business. I have mixed feelings about the Ben and Alanna part of the story, though. I thought we'd get to see them meet as father and daughter, but I was left surprised and feeling a little unsatisfied when that didn't happen. I guess their storyline will probably be resolved in the next book. Maybe I'll feel differently after reading it, but right now I can't help feeling like it should have been included in this book. All I can say is, we'll see. Otherwise, I thought it was a good story. I've kind of unintentionally left this series to simmer on the back burner, spreading out my reading of the books. However, the way Melina and Sebastian's part ended left me somewhat intrigued to find out more about them and what went wrong in their romance, so between that and wanting to see what happens next with Alanna, I'll have to make sure I get to their book sooner than I have been with the others in this series.
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