Seventeen years ago, Carson Brandt and Eva Channing were young lovers. She came to New York after winning a model talent search, and he was the extremely talented photographer tasked with making her a star. Carson had always been very demanding of everyone, not the least of whom was himself, and he had never expressed any interest in having a family, so when Eva turned up pregnant, she got scared and ran back home. Now, what seems like a lifetime later, Eva is back in town for a reunion shoot, and Carson spots the only woman who has ever held his heart at a social event they are both attending.
Unable to forget his one-time love, Carson follows Eva back home to a small town in Texas intending to see if he can inflict a bit of payback on her for leaving him. He is surprised to find the ex-model running a nursery, but absolutely shocked to discover she has a teenage son who could easily pass for a younger version of himself. Almost instantly, Carson's heart melts at the thought of possibly being this young man's father, and he cannot leave until he finds out once and for all why Eva really left all those years ago and whether they might have a chance to start over again.
I recently read a short story by Alison Kent that I really liked, so when I saw that she had two of her older books available in e-book format for only $.99 each, I couldn't resist purchasing them. I just read the first, Love in Bloom, and have to say that it was more than worth the price. It was a nice, easy read at a time when I very much needed one, but at the same time, quite pleasant and enjoyable. I love the reunion romance, and Love in Bloom was all about a second chance for a couple who had been too young and naïve to fully appreciate the once in a lifetime love they had the first time around. I liked that neither one had been able to find another relationship that could rival the grand passion they had once shared with each other, and now they had another shot at making it work when they were in a much better and more mature place. I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about this one, because of the seeming hidden baby plot (not a favorite) that was implied in the synopsis, but it turned out to be something entirely different than what I was expecting and not at all bothersome to me.
Love in Bloom had some very likable characters. Carson was a genius photographer who had helped make Eva famous as a teen model. His jet-setting parents had never paid much attention to him growing up, and so, in his youth, he was apparently an extreme perfectionist who thought that doing everything flawlessly was the only way to get attention. Eva was the only one who understood him well enough to put up with his attitude, but even she had her limits. She believed he wasn't ready for a family, so when Eva discovered that she was pregnant, she left Carson to his career. As a result, he ended up spending the next seventeen years searching the globe for something that had been right under his nose all the time. I liked that Carson had grown and changed a lot in the years he and Eva had been apart and had come to realize that he didn't need to be perfect to be worthy of her love. Even though she was a well-known model, Eva had some tough breaks in life, and had worked hard to be far more than just a pretty face. She now has a successful nursery business and is a wonderful mother. She too has grown enough that once she got reacquainted with Carson, she was willing to admit that maybe she had somewhat underestimated him all those years ago and was willing to open her heart to him again when it became obvious that he wasn't the same person she'd know in her youth. Eva's teenage son, Zack, the only prominent secondary character, was a great kid who had a few of his own point-of-view scenes as he too struggled with the implications of young love.
Alison Kent seems to have a way with conveying the intense, unrequited longing that Carson and Eva had for one another, but in a more subtle way that might require a bit of reading between the lines. A few more specific examples of Carson's demanding personality might have been nice to help convey Eva's concerns which led her to leave him, but I still think I generally understood her reasons even if I would have liked for them to be expressed on a deeper level. Sometimes couples may simply not be ready for love the first time around, but after personal reflection, will begin to understand themselves enough to make it work later in life, and I think that's exactly what happened with Carson and Eva. I also thought it was rather neat that both characters were over 35, which is kind of a rarity in romance. Overall, Love in Bloom was just a gentle, uncomplicated story that was a pleasure to read, and has left me looking forward to more from Alison Kent. Love in Bloom was originally published in print by the Zebra Bouquet line under the pseudonym Michaila Callan, but was recently reprinted in digital format.
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