Typing your ex's name into a search engine is always a crapshoot. But like any gamble, it can pay off big if you find out the idiot who left you is now thirty pounds overweight and missing a tooth from an unfortunte breadstick incident. The downside is that you could find out the worthless SOB is still attractive and, even worse, getting married to someone else.
Kez Walsh should've cashed out when her last search turned up nothing on her ex, Miller Thompson. But, instead, she goes all in after yet another failed attempt at dating and moving on. Only this time, she turns up a wedding website featuring Miller and his new bride. How is it possible for him to have moved on to the point of marriage while she's still mired in dating hell? What better way to answer that question than to crash his upcoming high school reunion?
Through a combination of tequila and groveling, she convinces her two best friends to join her on the trip. Only she doesn't count on meeting sexy and successful Jackson on their first night there. He isn't spooked by her unorthodox reason for being in town, and doesn't hesitate to let Kez know he's the man she needs. Jackson, and her undeniable and unexpected attraction to him, means Kez has to choose between hanging on to the past, or finally moving on.
With characters who are larger than life yet imminently relatable, Risky Restoration blends the best of escapist reading with heart and substance. Kez’s life seems to be great, except for her singular inability to find the right partner. Not only is her lack of a love life driving her around the bend, figuring out why has become her obsession. Then Jackson appears, tripping all of her triggers. Thus begins the slightly madcap adventure which, at times, edges toward over-the-top, yet always just this side of plausible.
One of the novel’s greatest strengths is its nuanced female characters. From driven yet well-rounded Kez to the sweet, accomplished Vivian, to the dynamic powerhouse that is Rae, each woman has her own distinct voice and beautifully detailed personality as she faces challenges and triumphs. This balances nicely with their interpersonal dynamics with the men, particularly Kez and Jackson. While Jackson has a dominant personality, he’s quick to allow Kez the space and freedom to handle her own affairs. If she needs him, he’s there, but otherwise their relationship models healthy boundaries—despite being fast and furious. Readers will delight in this fast-paced romance, and will almost certainly clamor for Vivian and Rae’s installments.
Takeaway: A stunning happily-for-now contemporary romance featuring strong female characters readers will fall for.
Great for fans of: Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s The Dirty Girls Social Club, Justine Faeth’s Chat Love.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
Risky Restoration is a romance novel about a scorned woman seeking closure from her last relationship.
Kesler "Kez" Walsh is pessimistically navigating relationships since being burned by her college sweetheart, Miller Thompson. Then, after another failed relationship, she finds herself surfing the Internet to learn what her ex has been up to lately—only to discover that Miller is marrying Callie, the bartender from the bar they frequented when they were a couple. He's also going to be attending his high school reunion in his hometown of Rochester, New York.
Although Kesler lives in North Carolina, she scores an invitation to the reunion. She wants to attend to see if she's over Miller, and she convinces her best friends, V and Rae (who think she's crazy) to come with her.
On their first night away, they meet Jackson Jenkins at a bar when he sends an expensive bottle of wine to their table, before sweeping Kesler off her feet with his rugged good looks. While determined to carry out the plan, Kesler can't shake the undeniable attraction she feels for Jackson, and he's determined to help her forget her ex altogether, even after learning the truth about why she's there. But will Kesler's jaded past keep her from creating something meaningful with Jackson?
Readers will root for these easily relatable, well-drawn characters, while remaining captivated by the growing romance between Kesler and Jackson. The author skillfully ratchets up the romantic tension between the two by playing up the “will they/won’t they” question as their sexual encounters are repeatedly interrupted.
The real power, however, is found in the author’s humor, particularly in the laugh-out-loud scene that finds Kesler and her two best friends donning fake wigs to hide their identities while trapped in a rental car with a bug. Readers will enjoy the levity throughout.
In all, the author expertly weaves together humor and heart to create an engaging novel sure to satisfy romance readers.
In E. F. Dodd’s romance novel Risky Restoration, a woman still reeling from an old break-up decides to reconcile
herself to her past, only to find that her future may be much more satisfying.
Kez and Miller broke up years ago. Kez blocked his number and email, but that hasn’t stopped her from occasionally
doing some online investigating into her ex’s new life. When she finds engagement photographs on his social media
accounts, Kez talks her girlfriends, Rae and V, into a trip to Miller’s high school reunion to put any lingering doubts
about their relationship to rest.
But while looking for closure, Kez finds a new opening: a chance meeting with a sexy, charming, and confident man,
Jackson. He sweeps her off of her feet. If she can let go of old hangups, her new start might finally put the past to rest.
Kez and her friends are bold, independent women who are successful and confident in every area of their
lives—except for love. Each one is influenced by external expectations or past traumas; Kez holds on to the “what if”
of her relationship, while V lets her parents’ snobby beliefs control her. Rae is closed off and seemingly casual when it
comes to men; her reasons for this approach are not revealed, but her cold attitude toward romance hints at hurt in
her life. Accepting of each other’s flaws, the women walk a delicate line between supportiveness and calling out
problematic behavior. Their banter is quick-witted and emotionally honest. And in the course of the novel, each one
meets a man who challenges them, with Kez and Jackson taking the lead.
Kez and Jackson’s irresistible, steamy dynamic is built upon their mutual attraction. Delicious details come in;
throughout, they remain just shy of explicit. Will-they-won’t-they moments lead to tension: their physical encounters
are frequently interrupted, building a sense of excitement. Kez has an endearing habit of referring to her libido as her
“inner witch,” whose appearances represent her rising sex drive.
The fast-moving romance forces both Kez and Jackson to face their insecurities, manifesting in tender sentiments and
moments of self-sabotage. Miller morphs into the villain of the tale; though there are both good and bad moments in
his past with Kez, which are revealed in flashbacks and triggered memories, his behavior becomes erratic. Kez
second-guesses herself as Miller admits to his own unresolved feelings.
With gal pal empowerment sessions and steamy seductions taking the lead, this character-focused story engages in
some stereotypes with its ideas around femininity and masculinity. But it also addresses changing gender
expectations in modern relationships. A well-maintained balance of informative, funny dialogue and engaging sensual
scenes result in the perfect pace. Conflicts lead to uncertainty in vital moments, but the romantic resolution is
satisfying, marked by humor and hope.
Risky Restoration is a romance novel whose trio of girlfriends deal with relationship issues, pushing through their fears
to get what they want.
DELIA STANLEY (November 2, 2021)
A woman’s search for closure with an ex is upturned by a hot new man in this romance novel.
North Carolina native Kesler “Kez” Walsh was sure that her handsome, funny, and bright law school boyfriend, Miller Thompson, was ideal husband material. But after graduation, Miller left the South, returning to Rochester, New York, while Kez took a good job in Charlotte. After many arguments and drunken phone calls from Miller claiming his love, they couldn’t resolve the long-distance problem and broke up. That was four years ago. Now, 28, Kez has never truly moved on
from Miller and his promises. She’s learned that he’s engaged to a bartender at the very pub where he’d drunk-dial Kez. She hatches a scheme to crash Miller’s high school reunion in Rochester and, as she tells best friends Regan “Rae” Murphy and Vivian “V” Walters, “see for myself that he’s moved on. That this thing with her is real, not just checking a box in his personal life.” Only then, she claims, can she find closure. Kez wants her besties to come along, so despite their doubts, Rae and V loyally agree.
In the hotel bar, Kez meets Jackson “Jax” Jenkins—tall, dark,
muscular, tattooed, brimming with confidence, and totally into her. He’s also attending the reunion. When he gets wind of Kez’s plan, he invites her along as his plus-one, giving her the
perfect cover to evaluate Miller’s commitment to his intended. Meanwhile, erotic heat builds—and builds and builds—between Kez and Jax, who is ready for much more than just a fling. If the door on Miller closes, maybe another one could open, but first Kez must take a chance and trust again.
In her debut, Dodd runs the risk of making the romance too good to be true. Kez is a “gorgeous” red-haired head-turner, and she already owns her own law firm. Jax is perhaps even more inordinately ideal, and not just physically. His restoration business is both masculine and artsy, and he’s thoughtful and sensitive behind the sometimes-cocky exterior—after a misunderstanding, he sends flowers to Kez with an apology note that makes Rae exclaim, “Seriously? Those arms and that ass come with a poetry option?” He also conveniently happens to live right outside of Charlotte.
Fortunately, Dodd gives her heroine a significant flaw in her obsession with the past and dubious logic about needing to gauge Miller’s feelings; Kez didn’t just Google-stalk Miller; she actually hired a private investigator. Additionally, a few misunderstandings, eruptions from Miller and his fiancee (who earns Kez’s sympathy), and other bumps in the road to love also help spice the story with some conflict. And of course, some readers will appreciate the well-crafted wish-fulfillment
angle. The dialogue is energetic and funny, and the sex scenes are a plus: lusty, varied, and suggestive but not pornographic.
Low on plausibility but high on entertaining drama, dialogue, and hot romance.