Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review of Violet Duke’s contemporary romance LOVE, EXES AND OH’S which is a sweet reconnection/friends-to-lovers romance between Xoey and Isaac. While this is part of the Cactus Creek novel series, it can be enjoyed as a standalone.
About the Book:
He may very well be the perfect ex…
Isaac McKnight has had enough loss in his life to know never to take anything for granted. So when the perfectly-imperfect-woman-for-him puts an end to their relationship out of the blue, it’s Isaac that makes sure they remain friends. Now a year later, whether it’s at his gym or her brewpub, or the dog park they visit every weekend–though neither of them own a dog–he and Xoey are steadily getting sucked deeper into buddy-zone galaxy, with its dangerous proximity to watch-me-settle-down-with-someone-else abyss. It’s a reality he’s resigned himself to. That is…until one drunken confession changes everything.
But she’s looking for the perfect oh…
For Xoey Montenegro, history has taught her that sometimes, it’s Prince Charming who vanishes without a trace. And fairytale love? Highly overrated. Heck, give her a real and perfect ‘oh’ over that fantasy any day. So as far as rock-solid tequila-fueled plans for her love life go, coming up with a match-finding formula based on the qualities of the men responsible for her three most epic ohs seems brilliant. Except for the fact that one-third of her genius little man-quation is all about her friend Isaac. Actually, more than a third if Xoey were being honest with herself–which she’s not. Because full honesty would require thinking not just about how perfect Isaac really is, but also about how perfect the fourth epic oh she’s kept buried deep in her past once was.
An easy enough thing to keep ignoring…until her past isn’t past tense anymore.
How about a little taste?
“The man ate his Caesar salad with a knife and fork, Isaac.”
Isaac McKnight tried—really tried—not to grin over that one but he was wholly unsuccessful. “I’m sure that’s not nearly as pretentious as it probably looked,” he reasoned graciously, before adding without any remorse whatsoever, “Or maybe the good doctor has been hiding a really small mouth under that bushy beard, and he needs to take dainty little bites.”
Yep, just call him Saint Isaac, Patron of Grace.
Xoey’s immediate burst of laughter over the phone line, which neither confirmed nor denied his guess, instantly had Isaac wondering which of her killer smiles she was wearing right now. He’d bet good money it was the one that lit up those deep mahogany-rich bedroom eyes of hers with pure mischief—the one that hinted her own thoughts were at least twice as sinful as anyone else’s in the room. And three times as unapologetic.
God, he loved that smile. For a few quality seconds with that smile, he’d gladly pony up with all the zingers he’d been storing regarding her most recent Mr. Wrong. But he managed to restrain himself. The last thing Isaac needed was to give karma more reasons to run his ass over.
He was, after all, one of Xoey’s Mr. Wrongs as well.
The reminder was an effective buzzkill that silenced the ticker tape parade that had been playing in his head all morning over Xoey’s latest love life development…an extraordinary showing of self-control for him that lasted a whole ten seconds. Maybe eleven.
A personal best.
With that new shoulder-patting record under his belt, he was already reaching up to switch the phone call over to his truck’s Bluetooth so he could listen to Xoey’s deal-breaking grievances from her date last night the way it was truly meant to be heard.
What could he say? The woman brought out all his ruthless, miserable-sonofabitch possessive tendencies. As far as he was concerned, hearing Xoey’s throaty voice take over his truck’s speakers with a list of reasons why the ‘third date’ she’d gone out on last night would in fact not be resulting in a fourth date—aka sex—with the pharmacist she’d met a few weeks back? Grammy-worthy music to his ears.
He simply didn’t see himself evolving any time soon.
This is the 4th book in a series, but can be read as a standalone.
Xoey’s had some hard times, but she’s worked hard and now serves as the part-owner of Ocotillo’s, a brewpub she manages with the other owner, and her good friend, Dani. Xoey wants to find Mr. Right, and has searched for him for the past decade–ever since her first Mr. Wrong, a one-night stand who left Xoey considerably worse for the wear.
Isaac is Xoey’s ex. She’s collected a lot of them on her search for Mr. Right, yet Isaac’s the only one who’s stuck around to be a friend, too. In fact, he’s a very close friend to Xoey, and he’d like to be more.
They share a lot of close times, but no physicality ever since Xoey broke it off. She’s got some pretty romantic ideas about Mr. Right, and Isaac just missed the mark. Still, over the course of the year he’s been a great friend and confidante, and she’s attracted to him. Now, however, she doesn’t want to risk their friendship. So all her girlfriends make a plan to set her up with potential Mr. Right blind dates–and they sorta sabotage them….so Xoey can see that the best man in her life is the man who’s been the caretaker of her heart: Isaac.
Trouble erupts unexpectedly, however, and Xoey becomes the temporary guardian of a child she never intended to care for–with Isaac right by her side. They make a great team, until Isaac gets a wake-up call, and Xoey breaks it all off, again.
This is a fun contemporary friends-to-lovers story with a twist I didn’t see coming–probably because it bent the line of coincidence way out of proportion. Excepting that, however, I liked it. Somewhat breezy, and a quick read. A bit of a steamer, too.
About the Author:
NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education who is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page writing wickedly fun contemporary romance novels. Her NYT and USA Today bestselling books have been Top 10 bestsellers across the major eretailers both in the US and internationally. When she’s not writing or feeding her book-a-day reading addiction, Violet enjoys tackling reno projects with her power tools, trying pretty much anything without reading the directions first, and cooking ‘special edition’ dishes that laugh in the face of recipes. A born and raised island girl, she spends her days getting into creatively fun trouble in Hawai’i alongside her two cute kids (daughter Violet & son Duke) and similarly adorable husband.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!