There are two things Max “Deke” Deacon can always count on: his old high school teammates and Fitz Hawkins. But no matter how much Deke might secretly fantasize otherwise, a relationship with one of his best friends is off limits. Until one unexpectedly smoldering encounter has Deke and Fitz looking at each other in a whole new way.
Angelica “Fitz” Hawkins knows for a fact that it is not better to have loved and lost. After losing her parents, she’d rather lock up her heart and throw away the key than endure that kind of pain again. If that means giving up any hope of a lasting relationship, then so be it.
With Deke, Fitz finally feels like she's back in the land of the living. But she won’t risk another broken heart—even if it means saying good-bye to Deke for good. It’s up to Deke to convince her that the safest place she could ever be is right here with him.
A big believer in happily ever afters, Jen Doyle decided it was high time she started creating some. Jen is a member of the Romance Writers of America, as well as a member of the New England, New Jersey Romance Writers and Music City Romance Writer chapters of RWA. She is represented by Sarah E. Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency. She has an M.S. in Library and Information Science and, in addition to her work as a librarian, has worked as a conference and events planner as well as a Communications and Enrollment administrator in both preschool and higher education environments (although some might say that there is very little difference between the two; Jen has no comment regarding whether she is one of the “some”).
I’d been looking for something new, someone new, to read all summer. But because I was so busy, it was easy to pick up my favorites or new books from favorite authors. But, finally Called Up popped up on my radar. Cute cover. Check. Small Town. Check. Sports and bar theme. Check. Friends to lovers. Check.
I was ready to give it a try.
At first, in Called Up, we're thrown into family. That was my first impression. Lots of people, friendly and familial. There is a comradery through that first chapter, one that probably takes the seasoned reader [of the series] back into the lives of the secondary characters. We meet our main characters, Angelica ‘Fitz’ Hawkins and Max Deacon ‘Deke’ [Deacon, a favorite name of mine, btw…well, for a first name :D ]. One is the town barkeep [it’s a family thing] and one is the town’s orphan [daughter to the man who had a wife and then ran away with the woman who would become her mother]. I like the history they have. We get to watch these two go from supposed friends [but maybe not as close as they thought] to strangers and back to friends before on to being lovers.
I really liked this book. I did have a hard time getting into it at first, probably because I hadn’t read book one. But, that wasn’t a story issue, more of a characters issue…like being confused by who went with whom, who was related, and who were ‘just friends’. Once I had all that figured out, I enjoyed the tug of war within the story. Fitz’s conflict of who she could trust, and how anyone could really love her. And then Deke’s protective streak towards her, and how she goes from a best friend’s sister to someone he wants to be with. I really loved that the author didn’t create perfection within the hero. He’d been with a good number of women in town. He didn’t apologize for it, but didn’t flaunt it either, especially as his relationship with Fitz deepened. There was even a bit of regret, which is nice to see, too.
I think the only thing that bogged the story down was Fitz’s secret keeping along with some parts of her past. Part of me just wanted her to ‘get over it’. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling while reading some of the tropes in the romance genre. And though she seemed to work through that conflict that involved her past, it felt a little too trite to me… the meeting with her foster/adoptive mother who is the first wife of her father. I don’t know. Sometimes you just read something and you think you’re not sure about it. That’s how it was for me. On the other side of the fence from that, though, I did love Fitz’s grand gesture. She’d kept a very big secret from Deke for the entire book, and her making up for that was spot on. It’s very rare that we see the heroine make the grand gesture in romance. So, kudos to Jen Doyle for pulling that off.
A great book I don’t mind recommending to all my Friends.to.Lovers-loving readers.