Three and a half stars. At the end of the last book we found out that Ford Abbott (the second oldest Abbott son) has sold his quarter of the family business to fund his gambling debts. He sold the share to a wealthy divorcee called Ella Boudreaux. Mack, the oldest Abbott, is furious and has a stand-up row with Ella in the middle of a swanky party and vows to do everything in his power to bring the business back into Abbott hands. Ella Boudreaux left an abusive marriage, she knows everyone thinks she's a gold-digger but the reality is somewhat different. She bought the share in the Abbott garage in memory of her older brother who loved cars and taught her to drive when she was just twelve years old. She's determined to carve out a new life, alone, in Cottonbloom starting with the Abbott garage. I had really high hopes for this one, the start of it kind of reminded me a little of Sutton and Wyatt's story and I was hoping for a rich woman meets surly mechanic romance with a soupçon of Pride and Prejudice thrown in for good measure. Of course the reality was somewhat different. Mack is floundering, he and his brother are at odds, his two younger brothers are happily loved up, his mother (who he hasn't seen since he was young) has resurfaced, and even the bolthole of the family business has been contaminated by Ella buying Ford's share. He's lonely and troubled that his relationship with Ford has broken down so badly, and maybe a bit guilty as well. He takes all of his frustration and guilt out on Ella, but this sophisticated little society woman has a steel core and won't stand any of his bluster. At the same time as he is fighting her with every fibre of his being he is also very slightly turned on by her feisty attitude and refusal to back down. I liked this, I like the small town vibe, the family business, a woman building a new life for herself without having to put others down in the process. But it wasn't without fault. I felt that Ella's constant references to her saintly brother were repetitive and became tiresome. Similarly, she jumped to ridiculous conclusions about Mack and his motivations. I thought she was being ridiculously obtuse and determined to think the worst, no matter what Mack did or said. Luckily, Mack made it all better. He was a big gruff intimidating man who finds recipes on Pinterest and makes art from metal. If you like second chance romances with couples who have faced adversity and come through it stronger, small towns and BBQ then this is the romance for you. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I loved reading Set the Night on Fire by Laura Trentham, book six in her Cottonbloom series. In this story we finally get to know and understand Mack Abbott, the second eldest of the Abbott brothers, as he meets his match in Ella Boudreaux. Oldest Abbott brother Ford sold his share of the business to Ella and Mack is furious. Ella has a lot to prove to her family, friends, and foes and even to herself. So when her marriage ends she decides to invest her energy and money into a place that brings back some of Ella’s happiest memories: the Abbott brothers’ garage. Mack believes that only Abbotts should have a share of Abbott’s Garage so he is in no hurry to work with Ella, especially when she shows up to the garage in stilettos. But Ella’s grit and determination won’t quit and Mack can see that she’s been down a few rough roads herself. Ella hopes that she can teach the skeptical, stubborn Mack Abbott how to make the business a true success. Neither Mack nor Ella can deny the fierce attraction that was blooming between them. I enjoyed the cat and mouse games that Mack and Ella played between improving the garage and their attraction to each other. Ella became more and more self-assured as the story progressed and as she met the people of Cottonbloom and started making friends. Her strength was on display as she helped her ex-husband’s new wife make a new life for herself. Ella was perfect for Mack. Mack learned a lot from Ella in addition to finding ways to make amends with his estranged mother and his brother Ford, opening the door for them to return to Cottonbloom. Ms. Trentham wrote a wonderful and emotional story that drew me into her book and the lives of her characters, making me forget the world around me. I had trouble putting this book down, turning page after page, not letting go until I turned the last page, still wanting more and really looking forward to the next book in this series. I highly recommend this book to other readers. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
I came late to the Cottonbloom series by author Laura Trentam, but quickly fell in love with these books. The small-town feel, the Southern vibe, and characters that are easily relatable make for enjoyable reading every time. I've been waiting for Mack Abbott's book, and Laura absolutely delivered with SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE. Although not the eldest Abbott brother, Mack has carried the weight of responsibility for his family, being the glue that kept them together after the loss of their father. All that Mack really wants is the happiness of his family and the success of their family business, and he's willing to do just about anything to make that happen. Hoping to make a new start, Ella Boudreaux came to Cottonbloom to escape the pain of her past. Buying into the Abbott brothers' auto repair and restoration puts her at immediate odds with Mack. Not only does she need to prove herself as a savvy businesswoman, but sparks of a completely different nature are soon flying as well. I really love seeing Mack and Ella work through the darker parts of their past, the mistrust and need for control, and open up to each other. Their chemistry is off-the-charts hot, but it's not just physical. Their banter, their sparring, all of it works together to create one heck of a satisfyingly steamy read that manages to pull at the heartstrings at the same time. SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE is an easy 4.5 stars for me, and maybe my favorite book in the series so far. And, while each of these books are standalones, I highly recommend reading them all, because they're just that good. There's still plenty of love to be discovered in Cottonbloom, and I will continue to visit as long as Laura is writing her stories.